Analysis: Fourth Industrial Revolution will disrupt shipping

Disruption is unavoidable for container shipping as multiple technologies converge with unprecedented speed, requiring a complete revision of strategies.

In TPM Asia in Shenzhen, Wolfgang Lehmacher, head of supply chain and transport industry at the World Economic Forum (WEF), outlined six Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) trends that would bring opportunities and threats to the shipping industry: digital society and platforms; visibility and transparency; advanced manufacturing; e-commerce and omni-channel; automation and electrification; and new modes, new systems.

He said it was the data that enabled the design and delivery of the offer, from the status and condition of the order to the ability to change the delivery address. Transparency and the ability to respond was part of the experience, and new modes, from truck platoons to drones to rolling robots, need to be integrated in more traditional models. Discussion around automated transportation of cargo was no longer alien, and the 4IR will help the integration of new modes of transport and systems.