What will the transport industry look like after the coronavirus pandemic?

26 August 2021

The world is slowly coming back to reality from before the pandemic, although it is easy to see its significant impact on almost all elements of our lives. Shortages of increasingly expensive materials and delays in production are everyday issues that affect costs and prices. This also applies to transport, which has had to increase efficiency in order to meet the demands. Companies are starting to optimise individual processes using modern technology.

According to research by Alpega Group, transport and logistics companies saw a 60% reduction in transactions in 2020 compared to 2019. Instead, in the e-commerce world, Santander Bank has seen a 30% increase in transaction value for new orders and by the end of 2021 the bank promises an increase to 40%. This is not only due to a growing demand for the shipment of general cargo, but also an increase in the prices of service provision.

The Nets report indicates that in Germany 33% of people are shopping online more since the pandemic, for Austria it is 38% and for Poland 42%, which is a record in Europe. According to Eurostat, 72% of European internet users have shopped online in 2020. This is a huge challenge for transport and expectations are much higher than capabilities. Door-to-door or same-day delivery would not exist if we did not simplify all stages of the supply chain as much as possible, which the whole industry has to deal with – if it wants to stay in the game. 

In the pandemic the focus should have been, above all, on the digitalisation of general cargo companies.  

This means transforming traditional processes into modern, digital tools. 42% of respondents from a survey conducted by Alpega Group indicate that they invested in digital solutions during the pandemic. The most commonly used were fleet management software, freight exchanges and TMS systems. 46% of those surveyed said they increased their use of freight exchanges during the period and the main purpose was to search for loads. Transport companies are starting to pay more attention to reducing the sometimes mythical empty runs by searching for alternative return routes. An equally important challenge is planning transport considering multi-stops or a long route with many drivers along the way. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the Truksters application, thanks to which it is possible to carry out transport across Europe without losing time for the required break for the driver. The application plans the journey in such a way that at the right place there is a driver waiting to take over the load. However, these are tools for the big logistics players. In fact, Porsche and Axel Springer, among others, are investing in this start-up.

All the digital tools used are intended to make it easier to plan, manage and monitor the various stages in the supply chain in order to achieve the best possible results. Digital tools are no longer available only to big players, there are more and more solutions for smaller companies that will appreciate the potential of new technologies. Companies do not have to spend hundreds of thousands of zlotys on tailored software, they can use ready-made solutions, depending on their requirements. In particular, the carriage of general cargo requires optimisation due to the constant increase in orders.

When asked about their delivery times, Inpost couriers say that if a day had 30 hours and a week had 8 days, they still wouldn’t have enough time to handle every delivery. Hence the growing interest in tools such as Goodloading, which can reduce the time spent on planning the distribution of loads on a truck or container by up to 30 minutes. Combined with the increasingly popular route planners, it is possible to make savings that will build up a clear competitive advantage and significant profits within a year.

Not only drivers are in short supply

The increased demand for transport has made the shortage of both qualified drivers and vehicles on the European market more problematic. Drivers are clearly stating the need to have their wages increased. If these demands are not met, they will simply change carriers. The situation on the market of transport workers is beginning to resemble the IT industry, where you can wait up to six months for an averagely trained programmer. The situation is similar on the vehicle market. Currently, we have to wait until 2022 to order a new vehicle. The situation will not be better if we decide to buy a used vehicle, because there are none either – informs Truckfocus.  

Autonomous vehicles could be the answer to this problem. Companies developing such technology are feeling the pressure from the whole industry. A number of companies have already begun initial trials on test tracks, yet few are able to drive on real roads. 

It has been said for many years that it is necessary to increase the use of other means of transport i.e. rail or river, which may improve the situation of the TFL sector. The last mile with the use of drones is being tested by Decathlon.

Although the situation on the market seems quite stable, we are still not sure how the coming months will look like. However, we can certainly say that the changes we saw during the pandemic influenced the development of transport processes significantly and initiated new trends.