Meet Logistics 4.0! Concept, features and how it works

  • 27/06/2023
  • 18 minutes

The application of technological resources in the maritime sector is not new. With logistics 4.0 and the constant modernization of the segment, port transport management has moved towards the development of solutions that are increasingly aligned with market demands.

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In this article, you will learn about the principles of logistics 4.0 and the criteria and aspects of modernization with regard to intelligent freight transport strategies. To talk about related solutions, innovations and expectations, we invited Flávia Carvalho, shipping agency director at Wilson Sons.

In addition to answering the most common questions on the subject, we will talk about the market and trends. Continue reading to find out more.

The concept of logistics 4.0

Logistics 4.0 is a transformation movement that has been experienced by different market segments. Its concept is related to Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Therefore, logistics 4.0 can be defined as the massive implementation of technology in the daily routine of logistics departments, including actions such as:

  • Digitalization of activities;
  • Automation of process;
  • Data-based decision making;
  • Agile sharing of information and use of technology with the aim of making transport management and strategies increasingly dynamic and efficient.

In this respect, it is important to point out that the use of technology is not exactly new for the segment, as highlighted by Carvalho:

When we talk about logistics 4.0, and this race to adapt to new technologies, it may seem that the maritime port sector was somewhat stagnant and only now needed to update itself. Those who work in the area know that this is not the case, we are constantly updating.

The maritime logistics segment has always needed to change, and the use of software is nothing new. According to the director, now it is necessary for the segment to be even more robust and ensure that a good part of the operational tasks are eliminated.

With the natural evolution of transport management, “we have to rely on state-of-the-art technology. And the customer needs to know everything very quickly, so we need to be in line with this market trend and with transformation efficiencies at all times”, she reinforced.

People and logistics 4.0

When talking about technology and implementing solutions 4.0, one cannot forget to mention the role and relevance of people. In this context, the director highlights::

We are seeing many new developments, and with these new developments come many challenges. We’re not just talking about understanding these technologies and new tools, but I think what impacts the most is the corporate and employee culture. We have technology, many new things, and we need to work on our culture and our people too.

That’s because you need to gain a lot of speed to meet the changes that are happening faster and faster, and develop people who have this mindset of agility and change. If we talk about logistics 4.0, we need a 4.0 professional.

The company’s culture and the way people are dealing with these transformations says a lot about the evolution of processes and the results achieved. Therefore, the 4.0 professional, thinking in terms of logistics, needs to be agile, know how to solve complex problems, be willing to change, be flexible and adaptable to those changes that have already happened, that are yet to happen and that are yet to come.

According to Carvalho, these are the great soft skills of these employees who will be increasingly inserted not only in the logistics and port segment, but in all market segments that are in transformation.

The principles of Logistics 4.0

As you have seen, logistics 4.0 is a market trend that is mainly linked to the modernization of processes, with a focus on automation and digitalization. This trend is linked to some basic principles, know more about them below!


Interoperability refers to the ability of multiple systems and operations to work together. Through this, it is possible to create a favourable environment for organisations, people and systems to interact efficiently, exchanging information and contributing to the effectiveness of the operations.


Virtualization is a technology that allows the creation of IT solutions linked to hardware. They use the capacity of machines to distribute resources and solutions among different environments, with access by different users.


The word “decentralisation” is used in various contexts. In logistics 4.0, it can be understood as the process through which planning and decision-making activities of a given company are removed from a centralised and authoritarian power. That is, the agent involved in the business routine participates in strategic decision-making.

Real time

Another aspect that marks logistics 4.0 and the fourth industrial revolution as a whole is that information and data are processed, shared and made available in real time. People, in different parts of the world, can access this information practically at the same time that it happens.


Modularity is a solution that aims to efficiently organise complex processes. The term “modularity” refers to the use of modules (units) that are designed independently but are intended to work in an integrated manner.

Digital transformation in port operations

When talking about port logistics 4.0, it is necessary to think of a movement that goes far beyond industry 4.0, since the sector is always aiming at using technology for automation and efficiency gains. According to Carvalho:

When I speak of a smart port, it will certainly be characterised by automated logistics involving devices connected through the Internet of Things (IOT), a network of intelligent sensors, wireless equipment, a data centre or intelligence that will be a growing part of this port infrastructure. These are the technologies we see that will transform the port.

5G Internet, Big Data and Cloud Computing, to name a few examples that have brought agility, the possibility of end-to-end monitoring, continuous improvement and resource savings for the port sector. Far beyond, the port logistics movement has been attentive to all new solutions and tools that appear on the market.

Any new technology or software that appears and that can bring this comfort to agility, monitoring and continuous improvement will be welcomed by the sector. The port logistics movement will still undergo many transformations, because, every day, new solutions emerge along with further improvement of these tools.

“We have to be up-to-date within the international scenario to avoid being left behind and not keeping up with the movement, because, nowadays, this is a mandatory requirement when maintaining the profitability and competitiveness of the business model”, says the director.

At Wilson Sons, we can mention a series of solutions and technologies that have been implemented over the last few years, as a mechanism for adapting to market 4.0 and the constant search for innovation. We always connect all the needs of the ship when it berths in a Brazilian port: we check all the documentation and make contacts with all suppliers to make that operation possible.

What used to happen before is that all such data and information was often exchanged via email and WhatsApp. Wilson Sons has placed all information on a large panel for customers. Thus, they can track when the ship will arrive, when it will berth, its arrival conditions, among other relevant information.

WSConnect Portal

The WSConnect Portal is a tool offered by Wilson Sons that facilitates importer and exporter control. What used to be done via email is now centralised on this platform. Thus, Wilson Sons is able to provide more security and visibility to its customers, allowing them to make the best decisions thus avoiding unnecessary costs, streamlining the entire operation and providing greater security to its operations.

The WSConnect Portal is an example of how logistics 4.0 translates into practice. With the platform, it is possible to add predictability and bring elements that favour the organisation.

To access the information on the portal, the customer accesses the platform, selects the ship and is able to follow it from the moment of berthing to the departure of the vessel. The portal is intended for shipping agency customers. Due to the digitization of all processes, they have access to information in real time.

In addition to tracking ship data, Wilson Sons shipping agency customers can access the portal to check market news, port statistics, commodity statistics, among others.

Innovation in maritime and port logistics

Aware of the need to offer services that are increasingly in line with customer demands, and considering the innovations that are transforming the markets in which it operates, Wilson Sons has been developing some actions focused on gaining efficiency in its current business and opening new fronts of digital business. One example is the launch of Cubo Maritime & Port, which is a hub aimed at connecting startups, large companies, universities and research centres that are developing solutions and innovations for the maritime and port segment.

In addition to Wilson Sons, two other main companies are leading this project: Porto do Açu and Hidrovias do Brasil. They all work cooperatively with startups and other players that are developing solutions for the market.

Through such connections Wilson Sons develops technology actions and solutions. In addition to the already mentioned WSConnect, there are others worthy of praise such as Hub Services and the Automatic Quotation service, which are currently under development.

Hub Services

WS Hub Services is a portal that is to be launched soon. The idea is to facilitate orders and other shipowner needs through “self-service”, explains Flávia:

Remember when they launched the ATM and you could get a bank statement without having to go to the bank? It’s the same idea, doing a self-service action in which ship operators will be able to request services for the vessel without the need of sending an email or making a call, simply by doing it in a self-service manner which will be received by us.

WS Hub Services is a type of self-service that has many characteristics of the movement 4.0: consumption on demand, the possibility of managing your own contract, among others. 

Automatic quotes

Another project being developed is the one involving automatic quotation. The idea is that the person interested in making a quotation — to find out how much it costs to operate a ship in a certain port — will be able to ask and find out the value to be able to operate with Wilson Sons.

Nowadays, this is done manually. They send an email and wait for a response. But, the idea is that it can be done in seconds. Thus, the automatic quotation system will make life easier for ship charterers and operators.

Search for solutions that make life easier for the customer

Wilson Sons has several logistic operations that are undergoing a profound digital transformation. Flávia highlights the commitment and constant movements in search of solutions that facilitate the customer routines:

With the shipping agency, we are working on the digitization of our processes, that is, everything that was done manually, on paper, is being eliminated and made digital. We are always making the customer aware of our operation and offering more and more information in real time to them, so that they realise that they have control of al thel information, that everything is happening in real time and that their needs are being met accordingly.

With commitment and focus on delivering the best customer experience, Wilson Sons strives to bring more and more visibility of all operations in real time to its customers. Certainly, it is a work developed with a focus on the pillars and precepts of logistics 4.0.

Did you like this article about logistics 4.0 and want to know more about technology applied to the maritime transport segment? If so, take the opportunity to discover the Cubo Maritime & Port innovation hub.