The future of freight, transport & logistics: technologies, trends & jobs

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Advancements in technology are re-shaping the transport and logistics industry. With the emergence of e-commerce, automation and new applications, there’s even greater importance on the supply chain.

The way freight and goods are picked, packed, tracked and shipped has changed, using digital technology – but how is this affecting the workforce?

Leaner, faster, self-orchestrating supply chains

Tomorrow’s warehouses for freight, transport and logistics have mobile robots, drones and autonomous devices making the work faster. Internet of Things (IoT) platforms are being introduced to connect retailers to couriers and transporters, with one click.

One article discusses the three trends that we’ll see emerge in the next few years. They include:

  1. Autonomous fleet: New forklifts called ‘vision-guided, fully autonomous mobile robots’ will tackle the time-consuming, unproductive tasks that people do, particularly transport within a warehouse. This technology will process orders four times faster than humans.
  2. Data replacing fuel: Instant gratification is a big thing that online shopping can deliver. Amazon, for example, are working on drones that could make deliveries straight from warehouses to homes. Logistics could become a data-centric industry where information takes priority in logistical services’ value propositions (not the transport of the cargo, itself).
  3. Brokerage platforms: E-retailing and digitalisation in trucking will encourage a move towards mobile-based, freight brokerage-type solutions. Think Uber, for trucking, where an app is used to match truck drivers to the shipper’s needs on routes, rates and schedules.

The transport & logistics industry: A $122.3 billion industry

Between 2010 and 2030, there will be a 50% growth in truck traffic and 90% rise in rail freight. There’s a 150% rise in containers crossing the country.

The fast growth combined with new technologies has drawn attention to the industry.

Last month, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) hosted the Future of Freight. The event explored how Australia’s freight and supply chains can adapt to growing demand and maximise opportunities for innovation and investment. John Fullerton from the Australian Rail Tack Corporation and Qube’s Managing Director, Maurice James, both spoke at the event.

The Australian Government and COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council is developing a long term National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to identify ways to lift productivity and efficiency across the sector.

What’s needed is a transfer of knowledge and an increase in new workers, as nearly half (48%) are 45 years or above – upskilling new staff to meet labour demand is critical.

A technologically-savvy workforce

The transport, freight and logistics workforce of tomorrow will need to engage with technology, confidently. Employees must be familiar with equipment, as well as management techniques, to adapt to users.

In logistics, there are five growing jobs, including: procurement manager, distribution centre manager, operations manager, logistics manager, and transport scheduler. The hottest industrial roles for this year, according to one article, include warehouse workers, order clerks, forklift drivers as well as shipping and receiving clerks.

Employers in the logistics sector are looking for talent who have the skills to streamline day-to-day operations. This includes delivering goods, knowledge of best transportation practices, procedures for handling various hazardous materials and creating loading bills. As machines continue to evolve and take over many manual tasks, upskilling will become even more critical.

Every year the transport, freight and logistics industry grows. In 2016, it employed 1.2 million people in Australia and injected $131.6 billion into our economy – a booming industry that’s full of career opportunities.

If you’d like to learn more information about workforce requirements in this industry or to build a workforce plan for your company, please contact Wendy Perry at

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