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How logistics might look on our 50th anniversary

1st July 2016


Looking Ahead

As IES celebrates 25 years in International Freight Forwarding, it’s perhaps an opportune moment to look to the future, to gaze into crystal ball of freight forwarding to see what lies ahead, and how our business might change in the next 25 years. One thing for certain is that there will always be a requirement to move not just goods but entire production lines and factories from one place to another, in fact probably more so as ecological considerations make near-to-market manufacture a requirement rather than a economic consideration. Another is that IES will remain at the forefront of this business, adopting and changing to meet the needs of out clients…

What’s Certain…

Let’s look at trains first. Here the future appears to be between Maglev and Hyperloop, with Hyperloop looking to be both cheaper and faster. If this last sentence made little sense then you haven’t been keeping up with the new magnetic train systems being developed. Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX has announced the development of a train that will run on nearly airless tyres at up to 800MPH, that’s Hyperloop. Meanwhile Maglev is already old hat, with “Magnetic Levitation” trains running in Shanghai and Japan. Both these systems offer hugely fast transit times and low running costs, but need immense investment and relatively straight rail tracks. We wait to see their impact on freight transport.

Drones

It’s only a few years since the only drone we knew about was the noise of bees in a summer garden, then they were being used in the war against terrorism, and now they’re the latest toy to take photos from a height. Will they ever become the delivery vehicle for a logistics company…we think, possibly! For small deliveries of time sensitive materials, perhaps a vital spare part, why not? For sure there’ll be regulatory problems, but they’ll be overcome. A recent survey established that already over 35% of manufacturers and retailers expect their logistics suppliers to be considering drones, whilst less that 2% are doing so. IES is amongst that 2%, looking to see how these can be used to work alongside more traditional freight services.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Offering an integrated logistics service requires IES to ensure that all parts of our business communicates with all other parts so that no opportunity is given for something to go wrong. Inevitably this is labour intensive, but then perhaps not so inevitably, since the Internet of Things is revolutionising the way we do business, with the IoT increasingly allowing IT and equipment to communicate with each other within our existing internet structure without human intervention, increasing speed and decreasing wastage. 

Back on the Roads…

Whilst road transport will remain the major delivery method for many years to come, both the vehicles used and the roads they travel on will become cleverer and safer. Volvo has been testing a road-based version of the electric train, with the ability to pick up power in transit, which, if developed into production, could revolutionise log-haul trucking. Driverless vehicle systems already being seen in the USA and the possibilities are both huge and obvious. How all of this impacts us has yet to be seen. Many of the places we ship to have seen little change in infrastructure in the last 100 years, so to expect anything radical in the next 50 may be expecting too much. What we can promise, however, is that whatever develops, IES will be vey much a part of it. It’s what keeps us ahead.