New technology plus physical service: How logistics 4.0 will change the game

Joern Meissner smiling into camera

“The new digital technologies as part of Logistics 4.0 have the potential to disrupt many industries,” said Dr. Jörn Meissner, Full Professor of Supply Chain Management & Pricing Strategy at Kühne Logistics University.

Meissner reported that in many cases, digitalization has the potential to completely shake up the marketplace, in particular if the new technology and added value plus convenience are connected to a physical service.

“Digitalization is only a tool. Unless it is connected to the physical world and real needs, it will not be as successful as it already is today,” Meissner added. He cited the car service company Uber and the hotel platform Airbnb as examples of service providers that have disrupted conventional industries. Meissner predicts: “There is no doubt that the same will happen in the logistics industry.”

He illustrated this by giving examples of companies that have successfully implemented new, innovative logistics paradigms, discussing them in detail at the 11. Logistik & SCM Gipfel, organized by Dialogum and held at the Grand Hotel Steigenberger Petersberg, Königswinter. Over 100 top-level executives from many different companies such as Linde, Merck, Miele, Vodafone attended the event.

Examples of digitalization include intelligent storage bins that monitor filling levels and automatically send replenishment requests if the content falls below a given level. Autonomous vehicles might change the nature of logistics in the future, as will un-manned aerial vehicles (drones). Additive manufacturing methods such as 3D printing might enable logistics providers to provide cost-effective, quick spare part replenishment solutions for their customers, for example. In sum, digitalization has the potential to disrupt many traditional industries and will lead to the emergence of new business models.