The big deal with pre-emptive logistics

Av Vibeke Specht, Jul 23, 2020 03:48

Digitization Internet of Logistics

What if trucks from carriers like UPS, or DB SCHENKER, could only travel on specific roads exclusive to them.

- That would be ridiculous.

Exactly. Still, that is kind of where the world of delivery logistics is today, at large—only digitally. 

Thus, it comes as no surprise that most everyone who is anyone in logistics and shipping thinks that smarter digital tools, data sharing solutions, and the 5G technology, which will underpin the speed and actual efficiency of this, are much needed.

This is thoroughly confirmed in Pre-emptive Logistics—the Road Ahead, a heaven duty report from Industry Lab at @Ericsson. The report is based on quantitative data collected from 1,923 respondents from the US, China, Sweden, and Germany. The qualitative insights are from 21 interviews with, inter alia, industry experts. One of the latter is CEO of LogTrade, Fredrik Svedberg.

The report concludes that "everyone" wants robust digital infrastructure, so they can put AI and data analysis in use for matching logistics needs with capacity, and also to get the capability to ship pre-emptively. The latter would mean shipping before anyone has pushed the order button, which is kind of being able to ship like a Wizard. And who would say no to that?

So basically "everyone" in classical logistics, and shippers dependent on the traditional logistics industry, want to be able to deliver smarter and faster and better. And therefore do not like to keep on operating within silos—because, also, in silo structures winning is done by becoming bigger, i.e., the biggest silo takes it "all"—think Amazon.

But for me, and the company I represent, the digital infrastructure that liberates "line haul," also liberates last mile, which is essential to emphasize. Last-mile, or rather, last meter, matter—alot.


A digital structure that enables pre-emptive delivery logic across the entire network of delivery chains opens up entirely new trade models—for everyone. But it does so, not onlyto shippers who trade over oceans and continents. It does so also for small scale and local producers and brands.

For me and the company I represent, the digital infrastructure that liberates "line haul" also liberates last-mile, which is essential to emphasize. Last-mile, or rather, last-meter, counts—alot, and here's why.


The vision and the mission of the company I work for encompass the autonomous village and the autonomous city, where local is the new global. As the demand for locally grown, produced and manufactured foods and goods increase, and become cheaper, partly enabled by the evolution of adaptive manufacturing, the future will be local, regardless of current global trade flows.

The prototype of this glocal village is called Logville. The backstory of Logville is based on contemporary analysis of world trade, economics- and business trends, and politics, but also, very much so, on the environmental and technical realities of today. Recently this strategic outlook was indirectly supported by the independent think tank, RethinkX, and the book Rethinking Humanity.

You can read more about Logville here

Anyway. What I'm trying to say is that however alluring the promising nature of versatile digital infrastructure is for large logistics firms and global brands in today's linear trade models, it is even more so for local producers. Because it enables micro logistics, and hence affordable circular delivery structures, and trade models for local producers and manufacturers.

... A principle that enables goods to sell and ship themselves. In other words: to eventually send and sell themselves pre-emptively, i.e., predictively, so that people can get what they need when they need it.

Ok, so what does this digital infrastructure encompass, anyway?


For the physical world of logistics to be able to change, new digital tools must inter alia be constructed on a web-based standard.

For the company I'm at, who's bean bridging the digital canyon between carriers and shippers since the early 90:ies, better digital infrastructure, is about enabling tools that build a world wide web for logistics from the bottom up. For example, we know all the dialects of carriers, so we are creating the "Esperanto" of logistics and making it easy for any carrier, small or big, to hook into us (and others) through that language.

We are therefore developing tools that give carriers (and also can provide locations with) web-based URL-identities. A principle that enables goods to sell and ship themselves. In other words: to eventually send and sell themselves pre-emptively, i.e., predictively, so that people can get what they need when they need it.

See also: They Reach End Customer Directly - Offline


However, while good digital infrastructure can open up for Uber and Airbnb logic in everything-supply-chain, there are pitfalls. But the unwanted side effects from new trade and service models can be avoided. We have the opportunity to" preemptively" avoid issues that, for example, uncontrolled gig-economy, usually generate. 

This is also why LogTrade supports the Cabotage study, or rather the successful Cabotage movement—initiated and led by Assistant Professor Henrik Sternberg.


The beautiful thing with digital infrastructure is that it also opens up for services that benefit those who want to be more transparent with how they treat their drivers (as long as the need for drivers prevails). 

In relation to this, I'd like to highlight that Ericsson's report also stresses that "... pre-emptive is not equal to the death of warehouses and fulfillment centers. Instead, cross-competitor information sharing and collaboration, including shared warehousing between many actors, could lead to more resilient future logistics solutions."

That last notion is key. On the journey towards tomorrow, things will change, and new ways to use old physical structures, like space, small or big, will merge. The point is that (safe) data sharing, and horizontal transparency makes it possible to use and reuse resources that are already on the roll, or on location. This is what we call circular logistics, and without it, a circular economy can not truly be obtained.