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December 16, 2019 News

Automation: 5 Key Words for 2020 and Beyond

Whether you call it transformative or disruptive, automation is changing every aspect of the logistics industry. In the past, only big corporations were able to take advantage of technological advances. That has changed in the last 10 years, and the momentum is only building. Scott Sureddin, CEO of DHL Supply Chain in North America recently explains, “What were once niche technologies are now becoming available to companies of all sizes across industries.”

Now that automation and of-the-moment technologies are available to everyone, the logistics industry is undergoing seismic shifts. Here are five trends to watch.

Trend 1: Elastic Logistics

Automation is changing every level of supply chain operations as information is being digitized and made available online. This is streamlining operations, allowing the integration and coordination of air, land, and sea services. In response, supply chain operations are becoming responsive and adaptable. In other words, elastic.

Elastic logistics lets companies make quick changes, avoiding errors that had been unavoidable in the past. For instance, companies can increase production according to supply chain demands in real time, making excess stock and lag time obsolete.

Trend 2: Blockchain

Elastic logistics is partly due to the advance of blockchain technology, which makes end-to-end shipping management on one platform possible.

If you’re not familiar with blockchain technology, check out Investopedia’s in-depth explanation here.

Blockchain technology changes how documents are handled by creating what some call a “digital ledger.” Each “entry” includes transactional information that is readily available to multiple stockholders.

For instance, blockchain can synthesize information about transactions and assets. This brings order to large amounts of data and makes otherwise complicated processes clearer.

Trend 3: Chatbots

Definitely pay attention to chatbots in 2020.  Anastasia Morozova, COO of software development company Jasoren explains the benefits of chatbots best: “Chatbots are always available, they do not make mistakes, they are intuitive and easy to use.”

Logistics operations involve many data streams that have to be handled simultaneously. Instead of hunting for answers on multiple pages or systems, employees can ask the chatbot a question and receive a quick answer.

Morozova says that chatbots are even more helpful when they are integrated with other connected devices, like sensors, data counters, and weather-related meters. Coordination of services in real time is possible when the chatbot also has access to this information.

Trend 4: Collaboration and Partnership

Collaboration and the creation of partnerships within the logistics industry are nothing new. Building on new and already established partnerships has helped AFP Global Logistics become a trusted name in full-service, worldwide logistics. Looking forward, collaboration and partnerships are becoming increasingly possible and necessary in the era of elastic logistics.

Working together in mutually beneficial relationships will help streamline operations. It reduces risks and costs of shipping, and decreases delays.

A huge but often overlooked aspect of collaboration is the benefit of shared expertise. When companies work together, they combine their experience and gain insight from different perspectives. Collective problem-solving leads to innovative ways to improve operations and quickly resolve complications, challenges, or disputes.

Partnerships flourish best if all entities:

  • Benefit from the partnership
  • Trust each other
  • Hold themselves accountable
  • Have compatible corporate cultures
  • Invest in joint problem-solving

Trend 5: Green Logistics

Digitization and automation of logistics are creating a wealth of data. One way industry experts are using this data is to protect or even heal the environment. Green logistics is a movement to minimize waste and eliminate pollution within the logistics industry.

Historically, the cost of logistics was measured financially. In the coming years, companies will be compelled to consider their operations’ cost on the environment, as well.  According to, this includes air and noise pollution, vibration’s effect on the environment, and issues related to accidents.

The digitization of information and coordination of data in management systems will continue to highlight places where companies can clean up their practices, helping both the environment and their bottom line. Working toward sustainable practices has the added benefit of building companies’ reputations as environmentally responsible.


The effects of increased automation is poised to fracture the logistics industry, but the increased flexibility, streamlining, and accountability automation are benefits to be excited about.

If you need help shipping anything other than yourself and your family this holiday season, contact AFP Global Logistics. With 25 years of experience in the global logistics and shipping industry, we have the skills and resources to deliver on time and on budget. Contact us today at 800-274-1237 or via email.