Logistics technology is an expanding market that is driving digital transformation and enabling optimization across the entire supply chain. A 2024 report from MHI and Deloitte found that 55% of supply chain leaders surveyed are increasing tech investments, with 88% planning to spend over $1 million, and 44% spending over $10 million.

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Port of Oakland, Advent eModal, Mobile Programming and key stakeholders announce the launch of the Freight Intelligent Transportation System (FITS) at the Port.

Process automation, operations digitization, and solution interoperability are interconnected trends indicative of the industry’s drive to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and meet the growing demands of e-commerce and global supply chains, says Rene Alvarenga, Sr. Director of Product Management, Execution & Visibility at Kaleris.

The vendors on AJOT’s 2024 Top Fifty Logistics Tech Providers list are leading several digital technology trends, including:

Data-Driven Visibility

Data-driven analytics solutions are essential for industries like logistics that experience constant movement and change.

Supply chain disruptions are around every corner, warns Jose Barahona, VP of Sales at Magaya. Businesses must respond quickly and effectively and that means converting timely global logistics data into meaningful data-based analyses.

“In 2024, a paradigm shift is at play, moving the focus of logistics from bureaucracy to customer-centricity,” Barahona continues. “Logistics teams are prioritizing the customer experience by giving customers greater self-service capabilities, unprecedented visibility into their shipments, control over delivery preferences, and instant access to information with digitized solutions like the Magaya Digital Freight Portal. This shift marks a pivotal moment in redefining logistics services, the start of a new era where providing visibility is as important as managing the shipments themselves.”

Focusing on data utilization and the integration of emerging technologies will enable the logistics industry to tackle issues such as congestion, equipment utilization, infrastructure limitations, regulatory compliance, security concerns, and environmental sustainability, as well as unlock opportunities for predictive analytics, adds Thomas Rucker, President of Tideworks.

According to a 2024 report from Here, US transportation and logistics companies are investing in visibility via real-time tracking (58%), route optimization (38%), inventory management (34%), demand planning (32%) and communication with trade partners (32%).

Process Automation

“The supply chain continues to undergo significant transformation and become extremely complex, which is why many companies leverage automation,” says Ryan Tierney, SVP of Product at TrueCommerce. “Tools and solutions using automation are reshaping traditional supply chain practices and empowering businesses to optimize operations, enhance efficiency, increase visibility and drive innovation and competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

For example, TrueCommerce EDI helps logistics companies automate order processing, accelerate fulfillment and improve inventory management.

According to a recent Descartes study, 54% of supply chain and logistics leaders surveyed are looking to technology to automate non-value-added and repetitive tasks to improve worker productivity and help combat workforce shortages. To help drive productivity gains for labor workers, the top technology choices in the study were delivery route optimization (54%) and driver mobile productivity (45%) solutions. For knowledge workers, the top technology choice in the study was real-time shipment tracking (53%).

“Many functions in supply chain and logistics are routine and non-integrated, requiring manual intervention, and the results of the study underscore that technology can help companies address this through automation,” says Chris Jones, EVP Industry at Descartes, adding that fleets still building routes manually or using legacy planning tools can see driver productivity increases in excess of 15% by reducing miles per stop with Descartes route optimization solutions.

Artifical Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents a massive opportunity for logistics, an industry that is super complex and data-intensive, according to Lior Ron, CEO at Uber Freight.

AI adoption and interest are at historic levels, with 84% of supply chain leaders surveyed planning to adopt AI technologies within the next five years, according to the MHI/Deloitte report.

“AI is revolutionizing the logistics industry with predictive analytics, turning shipping data into powerful insights,” Brian Smith, CEO of Banyan Technology observes. “AI enables businesses to forecast more accurately, optimize routes and streamline freight management, paving the way for a more efficient and resilient supply chain.”

For example, Banyan’s Truckload AI offers predictive spot rate pricing based on aggregated market data, transaction history and machine learning techniques.

Generative AI

Generative AI (GenAI) — a type of AI that processes data to produce human-like analysis and responses — is becoming a defining technology in 2024 for almost every industry including logistics.

GenAI is changing supply chain and logistics for the better, confirms Ann Marie Jonkman, Blue Yonder VP, Global Industry Strategy. It will help automate tasks and enhance decision-making speed, quality and resilience, allowing companies to pivot quickly during supply chain disruptions and volatility.

“GenAI makes supply chains more autonomous and self-optimizing by proactively telling companies about a shipment exception, how to mitigate it and even resolving the issue itself,” adds AJ Wilhoit, Chief Product Officer at project44.

Examples of GenAI-based solutions: Blue Yonder Orchestrator provides predictive insights enabling intelligent supply chain decision-making; Uber Freight’s InsightsAI equips shippers with recommendations that are contextualized within the broader market, yet specific to their own supply chain; and Fourkites’ Fin AI helps users quickly identify and mitigate the impacts of disruptions, like those in the Red Sea.

In addition, project44’s Movement GPT enables users to discover supply chain risks by conversationally interacting with the platform. For example, a user could ask, “Show all my shipments impacted by weather in northern Europe,” then follow up with questions such as, “What is the value of the inventory of those shipments? Do I have more reliable routing options for my next  shipment?”

API Integration

The supply chain tech ecosystem is fragmented by disparate technologies and data standards, complicating interactions between shippers, carriers and other stakeholders that can lead to inefficiencies in scheduling, discrepancies in data exchange, and ultimately higher operational costs, explains Himanshu Mehrotra, FourKites VP of Product Management.

FourKites has joined Uber Freight, Blue Yonder and others in the Scheduling Standards Consortium (SSC) to streamline system integrations and foster a more efficient appointment scheduling process. The consortium endorses a universal application programming interface (API), enabling carriers to interact through a standardized API.

“The move toward standardized technologies and data protocols is not just a matter of convenience but a strategic imperative,” Mehrotra concludes. “It promises to enhance interoperability, reduce redundancies, and pave the way for innovations.”