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What does the future of logistics look like?

What does the future of logistics look like?

Logistics companies are deploying new technologies to reduce congestion and pollution and harnessing insights from big data to improve the customer experience. To explore the logistics industry of the future CommBank invited three experts in logistics for an interactive discussion at its Sydney Innovation Lab in December.

Amazon – vertically integrated retailer or logistics company?

Changing customer expectations top their list of the industry’s challenges. Consumers and businesses alike expect everything today to be faster, smarter and cheaper. Amazon’s arrival in Australia in September 2017 will further intensify the demands on supply chains and put downward pressure on retail margins.

Ian Smith, founder and CEO of online global freight finding service CargoHound, noted that Amazon has 81 fulfilment centres in the US, is a licenced ocean freight carrier and owns 40 cargo planes. Given the degree of control it exerts over its supply chain, Ian believes Amazon’s arrival unquestionably has implications for Australia’s logistics industry and wider retail environment.

New technology will help

Other industry challenges concern reducing pollution and congestion in Australia’s capital cities that are home to 66% of the population.1

Professor Michael Bell, from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies that sits in The University of Sydney Business School, gave several overseas examples of electrification and hybrid technologies. These include an electric container terminal in Holland, an electric highway in the US, hybrid and electric ferries in the Baltic, and structures that capture the energy created by breakwaters sending it to land-based equipment.

Forms of automation such as driverless vehicles will play a role in future cities and supply chains. “Automation, electrification and reducing pollution go hand-in-hand,” said Michael, “as electricity can be sourced from zero emission suppliers and drives automation".

The power of data…

Everything from sensors and posts on social media sites, through to payment transaction records and mobile phone GPS signals are creating unprecedented volumes of data. In fact 90% of the data we have today was only created in the last two years.2  Making sense of that big data through analytics will transform the logistics industry.

Chris Catterton, Enterprise Solutions Expert with Plasma Computing Group, explained the significance of the Internet of Things (IoT) and how enterprises can leverage data collected from people, devices and systems to create new ecosystems. One application of the IoT are smart fleets whereby many different systems and devices talk to each to make smarter decisions. For example, if a vehicle pulls off the road due to overheating, smart fleets would automatically deploy a replacement vehicle to complete the delivery.

…and the insights it provides

Big data also produces great insights that can be used to improve the customer experience. It is a strategic asset that CommBank wields to generate insights to solve clients’ problems.

The cost of issuing toll evasion notices and collecting money is a client pain point. CommBank’s data analytics team found that the recipients of notices tended to reside in multi-cultural suburbs where English may be a second language. The insight enabled a client to consider an inexpensive localised education campaign about e-tag adoption.

CommBank is also exploring how blockchain technology could convert the current paper-intensive processes that dominate modern supply chains into a digital ledger. This streamlined platform could bring benefits including cost savings, greater efficiencies, faster execution, increased transparency and reduced errors.

For more information about the potential of new technologies and data analytics to transform the logistics industry contact Sylvia Preda on 02 9117 2925 or




This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.