Unlocking the Potential of Automation: The Unstoppable Rise of Logistics

  • Published | 22 January 2024

In the ever-changing world of supply chain and supply chain management, automation has become a transformative force that is reshaping long-held beliefs and restoring efficiency. In recent years, the use of electronic systems for delivery and supply chain management has increased worldwide, driven by the need for efficiency, accuracy and speed in different industries. Supply chain automation involves using technology to perform supply chain tasks without direct human intervention.

In the ever-evolving landscape of logistics and supply chain management, automation has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping traditional paradigms and redefining efficiency. Global automation in logistics and supply chain management has been gaining significant traction in recent years, driven by the need for efficiency, precision, and speed in various industries.

The reasons for adopting automation in logistics and supply chain management are influenced by many factors. The rapid expansion of e-commerce has accelerated the introduction of automation in logistics and supply chain management. Additionally, technological advancement has played an important role in promoting automation in these areas. Automation issues in logistics and supply chain management and labor shortage are the main reasons for the slowdown in business automation. Additionally, the logistics automation industry is struggling with the lack of regulatory frameworks and regional organizations that would encourage and support the use of logistics and supply chain automation. That's why business leaders have taken important steps to prevent situations where weakness could lead to chain strength if nothing changes. Technology plays an important role in the logistics industry and supply chain management, helping to ensure orderly and long-term operations. Among many technologies, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) stands out because it uses pre-programmed software to automate daily tasks such as ordering, invoicing, shipping and inventory management. By leveraging automation, logistics can achieve higher levels and increase overall efficiency. This innovation will revolutionize the automation of supply chain management. The logistics automation industry is expected to grow rapidly and the production of independent products will become an important factor in the logistics automation industry.

automation in logistics and supply chain management

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of supply chain to the forefront, exacerbating the existing challenges in industries ranging from life sciences to manufacturing. Consumers have experienced delays in receiving everything from computers to cars. However, the pandemic is not the only factor causing supply chain disruption in recent years. Geopolitical conflicts, labor shortages, and other disruptors have been emerging, which makes it imperative for companies to find effective ways to respond to rapid change. One such solution is supply chain automation, which provides companies with new ways to cope with uncertainty and maintain business processes and products. Supply chain automation refers to the use of technology to handle supply chain tasks without direct human intervention. Automation comes in many forms and uses various technologies. By integrating supply chain automation tools, companies can reduce their dependence on manual intervention and increase their operational efficiency, resulting in improved productivity and profitability.

Driving Factors for Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

The proliferation of automation in logistics and supply chain management has been influenced by various factors. The foremost among these is the surge in customer expectations for improved quality and delivery systems. Global e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay have expanded their operations, contributing to the increase in e- commerce sales, thereby necessitating the adoption of efficient logistics automation solutions. The growth of the e-commerce industry has accelerated the implementation of automation in logistics and supply chain management. As per the report of ABB “How COVID-19 has accelerated the switch to robotic automation in logistics and distribution” retail e-commerce sales have grown tremendously worldwide which is shown in the chart. In addition, technological advancements have played a significant role in the growth of automation in logistics and supply chain management. The evolution and enhancement of technologies such as autonomous drone technology and RFID are driving the growth of logistics automation in the market.

Retail e-commerce sales

Challenges for Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

A labor shortage is a major cause of supply chain delays in industrial automation. According to the findings by Scurri, approximately one-third of warehouse managers are grappling with staffing issues. It is observed that rates of attrition are higher among transportation and warehousing enterprises as compared to other businesses. The US has witnessed a unique phenomenon, popularly known as the "Great Resignation," where a large number of employees are leaving their existing jobs to seek better compensation, improved benefits, or jobs that align with their values and interests. Furthermore, innovation for any company originates from humans, but there are certain limitations to what humans can achieve on their own. For instance, in facilities without automation, an employee may spend up to one-third of their time traveling back and forth within the warehouse to complete tasks. In addition, technical difficulties such as stock discrepancies, negative inventory, and slotting issues need to be addressed for the market to flourish. The logistics automation market also lacks uniform governance standards and regional organizations to spearhead and promote the adoption of automation in logistics and supply chain management. An illustrative instance of the potential consequences of supply chain disruption is the six-day blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given ship in March 2021, which resulted in the global economy losing an estimated $60 billion in trade. In response, industry leaders are proactively seeking to avert single points of failure to maintain the resilience of their supply chains in the face of unexpected alterations.

Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Logistics is an area that heavily relies on technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Process Automation in Logistics is a technology-driven approach that streamlines operations by automating tasks such as data entry, pick and pack systems, and guided vehicle operations. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Logistics is another application of technology that utilizes pre-programmed software to automate routine tasks such as order processing, freight invoicing, and inventory management. Drones have emerged as a promising technology in logistics, particularly for delivering goods to remote or hard-to-reach areas. Some examples of drone applications in logistics include last-mile delivery and inventory management

Supply chain automation refers to the implementation of technology and software to mechanize the processes and tasks involved in the planning, sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery of goods. Several examples of automation in supply chain management include demand planning and forecasting, which employ software to anticipate customer demand and accordingly plan production. This includes predictive analytics and sales and operations planning (S&OP). Procurement automation includes electronic sourcing tools and contract management software. Manufacturing automation includes computer-aided design (CAD) and robotics.

Technological Advancements

In April 2023, Oracle announced the integration of advanced AI and automation features into its Fusion Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Fusion Human Capital Management (HCM) suites. The primary objective of this development is to enhance the operational efficiency of businesses across all divisions. The SCM suite has undergone a series of updates, which are now available to the general public. Some of these updates include an AI-powered planning tool, an improved quote-to-cash process for Fusion applications, and the integration of new rebate management capabilities.

In June 2023, Shippeo, a top provider of multimodal shipment visibility, introduced Transportation Process Automation™ (TPA™) at the Gartner® Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™ 2023 conference in Barcelona, Spain. This innovation is set to revolutionize automation in supply chain management. By using Shippeo's high-quality real-time transportation visibility data, TPA™ enables new methods to predict and mitigate risks, promote collaboration among teams, and automate end-to-end supply chain transportation processes. These improvements lead to increased levels of performance, resilience, and customer satisfaction. TPA™-powered solutions will be available with launch partners Google Cloud, e2open, IBM Consulting, Snowflake, the Data Cloud company, and 4flow, providing coverage for all transportation modes and geographies.


The rise of automation in logistics and supply chain management is unstoppable, driven by the need for efficiency and adaptability in the face of emerging e-commerce trends and technological advancements. However, challenges such as technical difficulties, a lack of skilled workforce, and little government involvement must be addressed to fully harness the potential of automation in this sector. Also, the future of robotics in supply chain management promises significant advancements in optimizing warehouse operations and meeting the demands of the e-commerce era. The logistics automation market is poised for significant growth, and the development of autonomous supply chains is expected to be a significant trend in the logistics automation market.

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