TIMOCOM 31.01.2024

Logistics trends in 2024

Current trends in logistics: 12 predictions for the development of the transport market

Logistics trends in 2024 – 12 predictions for the industry

What freight transportation trends and developments will have a lasting impact on the transport and logistics industry in 2024? When it comes to logistics trends, experts, analyses and discussions with representatives from business and science have made one thing clear: 

There will be many challenges faced by freight forwarders and transport companies as well as trade and industry in the coming year. Gunnar Gburek, Head of Business Affairs at TIMOCOM, outlines 12 key logistics industry trends and their impact on the future of logistics in Europe and the UK.

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1. Transport prices will rise due to the German Maut increase 

Huge increases in the road toll in Germany (known as the Maut) and similar plans in other countries will mean the price of HGV transport will exceed levels in recent years. Transport prices are expected to rise by up to 12%. It will not be possible to pass on all of the high costs to end consumers; some of them will have to be borne by transport service providers as well as industry and trade. There will be a lot of haggling over the costs incurred for empty kilometers and who is responsible for them. 

2. Hauliers will be left with rising personnel and operating costs

The transport companies will only be able to pass on some of the additional costs for the operation of real estate, vehicles and the already increased human resources costs etc. in addition to the toll. Hauliers and freight forwarders will be left to pay these costs. The current economic climate will make it difficult to increase capacity utilisation to recoup these costs and somehow maintain the already low margins.

3. Share of low-emission vehicles to increase very little in 2024

The share of low-emission vehicles will increase very little in 2024 because, on the one hand, there are hardly any vehicles available on the market and, on the other, there is a great deal of skepticism among hauliers about which technology will be the right one for their business in the future. 2024 will be a year in which most companies will hold back on investing in new drive technologies, and instead wait and see what the “first movers” do. The LNG experience is still too fresh in their minds. However, transport companies are increasingly encountering clients who want low-emission vehicles in order to reduce toll costs and their carbon footprint. This dilemma will dominate the discussion around the feasibility of future technologies.

4. Drivers in short supply and labour costs high

It will generally be somewhat easier to find staff for warehousing and administration in 2024. However, drivers remain in short supply, and it will continue to be difficult to recruit trainees – in all areas. Overall, personnel costs will remain constant at a high level after salaries were already increased across the board in 2023. 

5. Partial and additional loads gaining in importance 

The economic downturn will result in less need for transport and a smaller volume of individual deliveries, meaning that the demand for vehicle space will decrease. The companies that are able to cope with this will be those that work efficiently and flexibly pick up every load they can get. Prices for the simpler FTL (full truck load) shipments will be fiercely competitive, while LTL (less than load) transport is likely to be somewhat more lucrative. 

6. Number of tenders to increase massively

The reluctance to tender in 2023 due to concerns about being offered significantly worse conditions than before or possibly no offers at all, will decline in 2024. The industry will be flooded by a wave of tenders. On the one hand, purchasers must regularly put contracts out to tender, as some expiring contracts cannot be extended, and on the other hand they are hoping for competitive situations that will lower prices. Tenderers will presumably benefit from this, as many companies try to land every contract they can in times of crisis. 

7. Balanced ratio of transport capacities 

In 2023, the average ratio of freight to vehicle space was around 60 to 40 and was therefore slightly more balanced than in previous years. Even in 2024, we will not return to the conditions as they were at the end of the coronavirus pandemic, when many transport capacities were extremely stretched. Hauliers, who have increasingly entered into long-term contracts in the past years of strong demand, will once again have to rely more on ad hoc business. This could be the year of freight exchanges and platforms.

8. More insolvencies, but almost no capacity losses

Overall, capacities will remain the same, but the number of companies will decrease. Companies that become insolvent or go out of business will be taken over by the competition. As a result, consolidation will continue to increase, but there will be virtually no new players on the market. Drivers would rather be employed than become self-employed. The general conditions and future prospects for setting up a company will remain simply too poor in 2024.

9. No increase in the shift to rail transport

Shifting transport to rail, especially in combined transport, will also be on the wish list of many shippers and freight forwarders in 2024. However, there will be very little progress in actually implementing this. Massive route restrictions due to construction works, a lack of personnel, insufficient capacity in the terminals and, last but not least, the restrictions caused by non-craneable trailers are hindering any significant switch to rail transport. Simply maintaining the current level of rail freight transport will be a major achievement.

10. Confusion and a lot of hassle caused by legal regulations

The consequences of the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (LkSG) will be clear to see for the first time in 2024, as companies with more than 1,000 employees will have had to carry out and document risk analyses along their supply and transport chains since 1 January. Numerous certifiers and consultants who want to profit from the legislative initiative are therefore already sensing new business. The numerous small and medium-sized transport companies will be faced with a flood of requests for evidence and requirements from their clients that are subject to reporting obligations. If the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA) does not issue clear instructions soon, the topic will be the subject of much discussion in 2024.

11. IT security and an increase in hacking attacks

IT security will be an issue like never before in 2024. The threat posed to IT systems from hackers will increase massively. As the investments in prevention and defence measures at most small and medium-sized companies are nowhere near the standard that would be appropriate and necessary, many hackers will be successful. Affected companies, both on the client and contractor side, that have not made preparations for this eventuality could find themselves in financial difficulties. 

12. Warehouse logistics trends: regional differences in the warehouse and logistics space market 

While warehouse capacity was still generally in short supply everywhere in 2023, the situation on the property market will vary from region to region in 2024. The situation in rural areas is easing due to vacancies and new buildings that will soon be available on the market, while warehouse capacity will continue to be in short supply in urban centres. The shortage of specialised properties, e.g. for hazardous substances, will also continue this year.

About Gunnar Gburek, Head of Business Affairs at TIMOCOM

A business graduate with a focus on trade and logistics, Gunnar Gburek has years of experience in the logistics industry, including as CEO of the logistic service provider Hasenkamp, specializing in deliveries to retailers and private customers, and as the Divisional Head of Logistics at the Association for Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME). He became Head of Business Affairs and company spokesman at TIMOCOM at the end of 2016, and has held the position ever since.

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