The logistics industry is going through a time of rapid and unprecedented transformation that plays an integral part in transforming the business dynamics. With the future of logistics being paved with technology and innovation, 2016 will be the year in which technology will become an essential, if not an exclusive part of the shipping process.

This has been revealed in the 2016 Logistics Trend Radar, a key instrument published by DHL for the global logistics community. The report provides valuable insights and information on ongoing transformations and latest trends likely to shape the future of logistics - from macro trends such as the changing energy and trade landscape to micro trends such as logistics startups unbundling the logistics industry.

It reveals in detail what sectors will be affected by developments and time frames for potential impact or introduction over the next decade. Artificial intelligence and personalisation are behind several of the most transformational trends of the 2016 report - including intelligent supply chains that use self-learning or 'machine learning' systems.

The impact of data-driven and autonomous supply chains provides an opportunity for previously unimaginable levels of optimisation in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and last mile delivery that could become a reality in less than half a decade despite high set-up costs deterring early adoption in logistics. However, apart from the above, the report has identified 26 social and technology trends that could impact the logistics industry in the next five to ten years.

Some of the key trends are: On-demand delivery, Anticipatory Logistics, Omni-channel Logistics, Shareconomy Logistics, Tube Logistics, Smart Energy Logistic, Internet of Things, Robotics & Automation, Self-driving Vehicles, Cloud Logistics, etc. "Predicting trends is notoriously challenging. It is difficult to know ahead of time which trends will have long-term effect on businesses and which ones are simply parts of a short-lived hype.

To identify and understand trends early on in their development we established the Logistics Trend Radar to help us and our customers stay ahead of the curve," said Markus Kückelhaus, vice president, Innovation and Trend Research, DHL.

Changing consumer behavior and the desire for personalisation are behind two other top trends - Batch Size One and On-demand Delivery. Set to have a big impact on logistics, on-demand delivery will enable consumers to have their purchases delivered where and when they need them by using flexible courier services.

Batch Size One explores what could happen as consumer demand for highly personalised products goes head to head with mass production over the next 20 years. A batch size of one would lead to decentralised production and rapidly changing supply chains that will require logistics providers to be fast and flexible to react to changes in time and place of production.

The report also estimates that in five or more years' time, the first wave of digital natives will enter the aged population segment. Grey power logistics – the logistics for an aging society – will offer new services (e.g., home delivery of medicines) to answer the resulting challenges of this demographic development.

It states that propelled by technological progress in driving systems and growing congestion in megacities, there is renewed interest in the use of existing and new tube infrastructures for cargo transportation. New innovations such as the Hyperloop could one day provide rapid cargo transit networks within and between cities. However, in less than five years' time, augmented reality (AR) will provide new perspectives in logistics planning, process execution, and transportation.

By adding virtual layers of contextual information onto a heads-up display, AR empowers workers by providing the right information, at the right time, and in the right place. Bionic enhancement like wearable technologies and exoskeletons expand the boundaries of current physical barriers. Smart clothing, bionic arms, and even smart contact lenses have the potential to support the logistics workforce in areas such as communication, process execution, and minimizing health and safety risks in the supply chain.

When it comes to robotics and automation technologies, they support zero-defect logistics processes and enable new levels of productivity. The new generation of collaborative robots and automated solutions with significantly improved performance and enhanced sensing capabilities offers a genuine alternative to manual handling, the report suggests. "Key trends featured in this year's Logistics Trend Radar could transform the global logistics industry and with 15 of the 26 trends likely to make an impact in under five years, it is crucial that anyone involved in supply chain management and logistics understands these potentially game-changing developments and the implications for their own business or sector now," said Matthias Heutger, senior vice president Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL.

This report, the third in the pioneering series, introduces brand new trends, tracks the evolution of trends spotted in earlier editions and ones that have faded or become main stream since the series started in 2013.

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