UK POSTNote ‘Digital technology in freight’ reviews digital solutions for the freight sector and their socio-economic impacts

The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology published the ‘Digital technology in freight’ research briefing to review the digital technologies that support the freight sector and consider potential impact on the labor force, environmental benefits and technical barriers associated with their use.

POSTNote underscores the freight industry’s increasing reliance on digital and emerging technologies for management, goods monitoring, transportation and last-mile delivery activities. It outlines connected and automated vehicles, robotics, IoT devices, connected sensors, data storage technologies and analysis tools as some of the technologies employed across all freight transportation modes.

The sector’s digitalisation can bring numerous benefits, such as cost optimisation and greater reliability and sustainability of freight. Furthermore, it can help to address the current industry labor shortage, reduce congestion, emissions and trade barriers and improve the transparency of supply chains.

However, implementing digital solutions raises various technical challenges (e.g. lack of communications infrastructure and standards for data collection and sharing, and higher vulnerability to cyber-attacks) and economic (e.g. high implementation costs and small budgets) challenges, as well as social concerns. This includes the need to up-skill the workforce in areas such as IT, data analytics, cybersecurity and software engineering, and develop new legislative frameworks and regulations for emerging technologies.