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UK's T&L industry falls behind in AI adoption & sustainability goals
Thu, 8th Feb 2024

Recent research by YouGov, commissioned by HERE Technologies and Amazon Web Services (AWS), has revealed a significant gap in AI adoption and sustainability aims in the transport and logistics (T&L) industry in the UK and around the globe. The study also identifies cost and lack of knowledge as the considerable barriers preventing wider tech adoption, suggesting that the T&L industry is not capitalising on opportunities for improved supply chain visibility.

The 'On the Move' survey, revealed by HERE Technologies in collaboration with AWS, uncovers a substantial gap in the utilisation of basic data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as a deficit in sustainability goals and progress towards achieving real-time supply chain visibility in T&L organisations across the UK and worldwide.

The YouGov survey found that only half of the logistic firms in the UK are using basic data analytics, compared to 41% in Germany and 63% in the US. Furthermore, only 19% of UK-based organisations use AI for applications including demand forecasting. This signifies the untapped potential of AI – such as fine-tuning algorithms for fleet route optimisation using machine learning – to modernise logistic operations, streamline processes, and inform strategic decision-making.

However, cost and lack of in-house expertise are perceived as major inhibitors in the widespread deployment of data technologies. About 26% of logistic professionals in the UK regard cost as the primary barrier, while 13% think a lack of internal resources and skillset is the obstacle. When it comes to adopting new technologies, 76% of the UK companies would prefer to turn to external providers with readily available solutions rather than developing in-house capabilities.

The study also reveals a pressing lack of focus on sustainability among logistics companies in the UK. Over 60% of UK logistics professionals report their operations as lacking specific sustainability goals customised for their T&L operations, with 33% having no plans to define such goals. In the UK, sustainability was ranked the least important among seven supply chain and logistics management considerations.

The survey further revealed that over two-thirds of T&L professionals in the UK and the US believe their company is making progress toward achieving real-time supply chain visibility. However, less than one in four respondents across each country think their business has made significant progress in this regard. Notably, ocean freight is perceived as the mode of transport offering the least real-time visibility. Conversely, truck operations tend to offer the highest level of real-time visibility in the supply chain.

Despite the clear significance of improving driver routing, the survey shows that logistics businesses in the UK are not sufficiently utilising location data. Only 41% of UK organisations are using location technology for driver routing, and 30% for improving on-time deliveries. Even less, 28%, are using such data for optimising route planning and logistics.

Remco Timmer, Vice President of Product Management at HERE Technologies, expressed, "On one hand, this study shows the progress being made by companies towards increasing their supply chain visibility. On the other hand, it's clear the industry currently lacks the contextual data, AI capabilities and tools needed to optimise fleet deployments, routing, and appropriate mode switching. As a result, we’re seeing increased demand for location data and services that enable logistics companies to overcome disruptions in real-time while reducing emissions and improving employee safety in the process."