Van Den Bosch.. the next step

Transport, multimodal or not, now or in the future, is a result of customer demand. Anticipating on transport in the next 50 years in my opinion is considering (changing) customer behaviour in the next 50 years. Without even the least bit of presumption on knowing how that customer behaviour will change, it is still possible in my opinion to spot a number of trends that will greatly influence the supply chains.

Large new economies are already causing clear shifts in the supply chains. Production in those areas of the world will focus more on local markets than on European markets in the next two decades. The European market will continue to have a need for new products. Production knowledge and skills will then have to return to Europe. The availability of raw materials is crucial. The developments in sustainability referred to below do not all result from environmental considerations but especially also from shortages.

Energy supply, health and re-use are becoming more and more important. Food and especially healthy food will be essential. Large central food production (corn, rice, soy) will continue to exist, but small communities will start to choose alternative approaches. Many people will buy locally produced fresh food. The greengrocer, milkman, butcher and baker could easily return in our streets.

Sustainability, “less than FTL” is no longer accepted by customers. It will become prohibitive. Shippers and transporters will have to cooperate to have products transported to the customer. Also endlessly producing new products is no longer possible. Products will have a modular build-up with only ‘quickly aging’ components being replaced. Other parts will not be replaced and used longer. The composition of products will be based on ‘recycling’ and ‘re-use’ much more than now.

What are the consequences for transport in my opinion? There will still be ‘global’ supply chains. But their volume (importance) will be less. Sourcing, production and consumption will shift more into the region (e.g. NW Europe). Customers will want to have fresh and sustainable products supplied to them at a high frequency. There will hardly be waste. “Up cycling” will be common. Delivery and pick-up will be done in one transport movement. Traditional means of transportation with combustion engines are things of the past. Hooked-up electric ‘road trains’ will ride over the most important transport axes. Train transport will end due to poor flexibility.

Only companies that can shrug off their traditional ‘transport’ past can last in these developments. It will require guts to make a different strategic choice. Away from improving what exists. Looking for real alternatives. ‘To the next level’ requires a dot on the horizon. In sight of a direction full of opportunities for the future.

Whether that future is hidden in the scenario outlined by me, I don’t know. But hopefully it is enough occasion for much needed discussion. Only such a discussion can take the company ‘to the next level’ with pride and in alliance.

I wish Van Den Bosch all the best for the next 50 years!


Maarten van Rijn
Coordinator KennisDC Logistiek
Zeeland Brabant


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