With the digitization of information about goods becoming just as important as their physical movement between now and 2030, technology will have a significant impact on how logistics infrastructure is designed.
Dana Magliola, Senior Supply Chain Management Consultant at Supply Chain Forward and former Director of at North Carolina State University’s Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, served as one of two authors of Roadmap 2.0’s section on Logistics Infrastructure. Based on the input from participants in the report’s workshops, it’s clear to Magliola that rapid changes in flows, transport mode choices and vehicles themselves will change the traditional infrastructure design process.
“Infrastructure design will no longer be planned in 40-year increments, but instead will be funded to match shorter life cycles as the expectations of business and individual consumers continues to change,” he posits. “Further, physical infrastructure design will focus on reliability and flexibility—with multi-modal systems starting inside the manufacturing facility and ending inside the end customer’s location.”
That could result in a stronger movement to late stage customization, with additive manufacturing increasing regional product flow for semi-finished and finished goods. “Localized manufacturing or localized value added processes are likely to become more commonplace as a means to overcome some of the current limitations of American physical infrastructure, which is widely understood to be in need of a major overhaul,” Magliola continues.
Particularly in light of the continued march toward semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, which are trending to become commonplace by 2030. Magliola says driverless vehicles won’t just be restricted to those with four wheels and a payload, but will also encompass drones, planes, ships, trains and other modes of transport. That means the current physical infrastructure—which was never designed to accommodate such advances—will have to evolve at seaports, airports, rail yards, and other logistics hubs.
“I also think that we will see cyber security and physical security become one and the same,” he concludes. “The planning for that will have to be done in advance of, or in collaboration with, the design of future infrastructure. But, as more of these transport technologies shift to computer-controlled operation, there will no longer be a separation of what is being built and how secure it is from both a physical and a cyber perspective.”
To read more about how technology will impact logistics infrastructure between now and 2030, download the free Roadmap 2.0 report here.