The logistics industry has significantly evolved over the last 40 years. From manual processes to digitalization, the industry has transformed largely thanks to technology. However, the future holds even more exciting prospects with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as through other advancements in automation and new ways of pursuing decarbonization.
In this article, we explore how recent technologies are revolutionizing the industry based on the input from several CEVA Logistics leaders and experts who share their insights and perspectives at the recent “Semaine de l'Innovation du Transport & de la Logistique” (SITL) event in Paris.
The Importance of Logistics and Digitalization
The logistics industry plays an integral role in daily life, oftentimes in the background and far from the public eye. Yet, without logistics, so much of modern life—from manufacturing to food to sports—would be impossible. Life as we know it would grind to a halt.
“I don't think logistics is a necessary evil, but rather a necessary good. Without logistics, there would be no life. Without logistics, in Paris, there would be no food, and therefore we would all have a problem within 72 hours.” - Olivier Storch, deputy CEO, CEVA Logistics
Beyond daily life, logistics are critical to sporting events, such as the Olympic Games. The CMA CGM Group, including CEVA Logistics, announced in February that it was the Official Partner in logistics solutions of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“The Olympics are an illustration of what has changed in logistics over the past 40 years. The first thing that has changed is complexity. Organizing the logistics for the Olympics is the most complex event to organize during times of peace today, and without logistics, there would be no Olympics games,” said Olivier Storch.
As the complexity of logistics continues to advance, key trends in digitalization are emerging, and industry experts are adapting and adding innovative technologies to both respond to the needs of their customers and to deliver more value in the supply chain. As data and systems become more widely connected, the industry will have greater visibility and greater ability to find better ways to transport goods across supply chains and reduce environmental impact.
“Today, the two main issues for us are digital and data,” said Storch. “We transport as much data as goods, because there are new requirements, like traceability and compliance, that did not exist five years ago. It's also about sustainability and figuring out how to make logistics as sustainable and green as possible.”
Automation, artificial intelligence and route optimization in logistics
Logistics operations, once a manual, “human-powered” operation, are now taking on a futuristic look with sleek technology, robotics and artificial intelligence. CEVA Logistics is teaming up with DCbrain to deploy an artificial intelligence solution to help plan and optimize its customers’ finished vehicle logistics (FVL). CEVA is now able to simplify the planning of distribution schemes for its FVL activity. CEVA aims to digitize its processes, improve the processing of transportation orders and merge distribution rounds through better use of its fleet of car carriers via optimized assignments.
Digitalizing its transportation flows makes it possible for CEVA to move from static optimization to dynamic optimization and to automate various parts of the operation. Dynamic optimization hinges on the principle of digital twins and foundational upstream standardization work.
“Rethinking route planning has led us to challenge our ways of working, to streamline planning and capitalize on the benefits of AI in automating planners’ tasks.” - Thomas Maître, chief project officer, FVL, CEVA Logistics
Transportation flows are complex, and their planning is based on many evolving constraints that require constant adjustments. CEVA strives to make transportation more efficient and adaptive through new-age technology like artificial intelligence. The efficiency and nimbleness that come with implementing these modern technologies helps businesses advance in the marketplace and elevate overall customer experience.
Decarbonizing road freight transportation
Faced with the major challenges of combating climate change and transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy, the logistics industry must reinvent itself. One major need is to rethink long-distance freight transport. For example, in France, heavy trucks are responsible for 24 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions on French roads, and the French government is looking to reduce GHG emissions by 35 percent by 2030. To decarbonize road freight transport in France and across Europe, three actors - CEVA Logistics, Engie and Sanef are proposing a game-changing model for long-haul trucking through a network intended to unite low-carbon energy solutions, infrastructure and smart IT systems. As a result, both shippers and carriers will be able to reduce their carbon footprint and the distances traveled by truck drivers.
“ECTN Alliance members strongly believe that private-public alliances have a key role to play in accelerating climate solutions. The ECTN Alliance is based on a pioneering, holistic approach to decarbonizing long-haul trucking. We are proud to launch this bold initiative with best-in-class companies, whose combined expertise will contribute to the success of the project.” - Luc Nadal, Regional Managing Director for Europe, CEVA Logistics.
The network’s vision would see terminals every 300-400 km on Europe’s main motorways offering a low-carbon energy mix to maximize operational flexibility, stakeholder participation and decarbonization. By combining the terminals across the network with a smart IT solution, the new ECTN solution would support relay truck driving, which would enable long-distance transport drivers to stay closer to home. The ECTN Alliance will conduct a proof of concept (POC) in 2023 between the Lille and Avignon metropolitan areas in France to demonstrate the feasibility of the concept before deploying it on a European scale. The two-year proof of concept will start in 2023 to test the ECTN model’s effects on long-distance road haulage. A dedicated fleet of 20 low-carbon tractor units (a mix of biogas, electric and green hydrogen) will transport 20 trailers each day between the north and southeast of France, relaying and changing trailers at five test sites located at existing CEVA Logistics locations.
The logistics industry is undergoing a revolution thanks to the integration and advancements of AI, automation, data and decarbonization. Companies like CEVA Logistics are leading the way, and their efforts offer a glimpse into the industry's future. As we explore these technologies' potential, we can expect more efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly logistics solutions in the future.