Changes to the word of logistics
12 Feb 2014
The world of logistics has changed rapidly over recent years and this transformation looks set to continue in the years ahead. As with most industries, technology has impacted logistics so the sector is now almost unrecognisable from that of a decade ago. Expectations for the future are likely to see the industry continue to see step change, and it is vital that organisations are prepared for the years ahead.
Advances in GPS have led to increased efficiencies in navigation and trucking, with quicker routes and more effective delivery methods being identified as a result. The internet itself has proved to be a big ally to the industry, making it much easier to buy wooden pallets, for example, order all kinds of stock, recruit staff and attract customers. In fact, the internet has essentially changed the face of the industry completely.
Other advances include things like Warehouse Management Systems, Transportation Management Systems and improved communications processes. An interesting side effect of increased technology is the need to reskill and upskill the workforce. As technology becomes more intelligent, it is necessary for staff in all areas of logistics, from drivers to administration and beyond, to understand and comprehend new systems. More sophisticated systems in areas including IT, despatch and management mean that companies are increasingly looking to recruit staff with a wider skills set.
And what of the future? It is hard to predict where technology will take us next. Twenty years ago we had no such thing as online technology. But it is fairly clear that growth and demand across the world and increased globalisation will lead to continuing demand for improved, slicker logistics, in particular in the field of container traffic.
With online retailing still booming, internet shopping is also likely to lead to a further increase in supply chain management, with online retailers demanding more local services.
Sustainability is becoming a watchword across almost every industry, and to achieve this it is likely that logistics companies will need to collaborate more closely. Energy conscious firms will be seeking a supply chain which has a low carbon footprint and will seek out likeminded logistics businesses.
This theory is supported by the European Logistics Users Providers & Enablers Group (ELUPEG), which focuses entirely on supporting, promoting and encouraging collaboration across logistics companies. One of its members, General Mills, is running a number of projects designed to promote internal collaboration, seeing this as a key part of its business strategy.
Logistics is undeniably a complex industry which is influenced by a number of internal and external factors. Changes to technology and changes to clients’ expectations and demands will continue to drive the industry over coming years, with emphasis on green credentials leading to increased use of collaborative logistics organisations.