World according to DHL: Range of scenarios forecast for the 2050s

2012 03 20

THE untamed world economy, propelled by unsustainable lifestyles and the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, carries the seeds of its own destruction, as massive climate change inches closer, natural disasters occur more often and frequently disrupt supply chains.

This is the dark world view espoused by Deutsche Post DHL as outlined in its new study: "Delivering Tomorrow - Logistics 2050."

It said that from the perspective of the logistics industry the possible scenario outlined above would lead to a massive increase in demand for logistics and transport services, with companies even outsourcing their production processes to logistics companies.

The study paints five different scenarios of the potential state of the world in 2050 and explores the likely impact these scenarios would have on the logistics industry.

"All of us must realise that it is our responsibility today to set the direction for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. The new study shows, in a particularly striking and, at times, even drastic way, just how strong the impact of these decisions can be," said group CEO Frank Appel.

"It is part of our responsibility to intensively explore social and business issues that will shape the future. We do not want to be caught off guard by developments and trends. Rather, we want to actively shape the future" by facilitating public debate, for example.

Another scenario is of climate change opening up shorter and more efficient trade routes through the Arctic ice. However, the authors of the report warn: "The increase of extreme weather events causes repeated disruptions to the supply chain and raises capital costs for logistics companies.

"Disaster response and contingency planning becomes more important as the number of natural disasters around the world continues to rise. The growing scarcity of energy resources, higher energy prices and costlier raw materials mean smaller profit margins. As a result, not only offshoring but also nearshoring are common business strategies."

In a further proposed scenario: "Robotics has revolutionised the world of production and services. Consumers have switched from product ownership to rent-and-use consumption. Highly efficient traffic concepts, including underground cargo transport and new solutions for public transport, have relieved congestion. Zero-emission automated plants have helped to cut carbon emissions. A global 'supergrid' transport network with mega transporters, including trucks, ships and aircraft, as well as space transporters, has opened important trade connections between the megacities of the world.

In this type of world, "the logistics industry is entrusted to run city logistics, utilities, as well as system services for airports, hospitals, shopping malls and construction sites, along with part of the public transport infrastructure. It also manages the complex logistics planning and operations for advanced manufacturing tasks," it said. "In response to 'dematerialisation' of consumption, logistics companies offer an array of renting and sharing services, as well as secure data transfer."

The report also offers a four scenario for the world in 2050, whereby, the logistics industry consists of an online and offline segment. "The offline segment integrates the transport of raw materials into manufacturing logistics and reverse logistics. The online segment ensures secure data transfer and secure data retail in online shops. Strong regional logistics capabilities and a high quality last-mile network become important success factors because of the decentralised organisation of production," it envisions.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
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