In the wake of the pandemic, a revolution has come to many aspects of our lives, one that has also had a significant impact on the logistics sector. Logistics has continued to connect the world, even with much of the population confined to their homes, remaining the heartbeat and life support for trade and industry and a catalyst for their development and growth. In the following article we shall analyse what the arrival of Covid-19 has meant for the sector, its near future, and the new technologies that have been or will be implemented in the coming years.
During and after the pandemic
During the last few months, supply networks have endured great stress; let us recall that in 2019, online shopping rose by 20% and then by 30% during the lockdown. In addition to dealing with this surge, companies have also had to safeguard the health and safety of their employees, not to mention coping with mobility restrictions that affected different countries. A series of factors came together to form the perfect storm and trigger the disruption of the supply chain. In order to fulfil their orders and adapt to the new situation, many logistics companies redesigned their supply chains, introduced changes in their workforces, opted for logistics automation and new warehouse management programmes. Many logistics companies that did not react in time were unable to avoid collapse, but many others did manage to implement sufficient measures and adapt to the new situation.
During 2020, coinciding with the toughest months of the pandemic, the global sector contracted by 3.3% to 219 billion euros, according to the consulting firm Transport Intelligence. On the positive side, however, the sector is expected to outperform 2019 by 2.9% worldwide. But this is not the scenario expected for Europe, where turnover in 2021 is forecast to be 0.5% lower than 2019. Clear evidence that Europe will take the longest to recover from the ravages of Covid-19. However, areas such as Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland) are expected to overcome the impact of the pandemic more quickly and by 2021 are expected to have higher figures than during 2019. These predictions position such countries as attractive locations for international investors, as different geographical, economic and social characteristics make them ideal locations for sustained growth.
More demand, more recruitment?
The increase in demand has led to a rise in the search for traditional profiles in the logistics sector, such as: export and import technicians, stock managers, operations technicians and logistics technicians and managers; these will be the most in-demand job positions.
Although we are on the verge of entering a new era in logistics, traditional profiles will continue to be vitally important and the increased demand will mean more hiring.
But it is also true, as we will analyse below, that important changes are coming in the near future that will challenge the ability of logistics professionals to adapt. Teleworking, thanks to increasing digitalisation, will be a new element to take into account. Future platforms will allow the control of processes from home and achieve fast, efficient and responsible management. This would bring global talent mobility fully into the logistics sector.
Covid-19 has taught us some lessons that we should take into account in order to be prepared for similar scenarios in the future.
First, inventory optimisation is key. This means maintaining fluid communication with customers and always staying on top of possible fluctuations in orders controlling stock volumes.
Control over order traceability. Immediacy is undoubtedly one of the most powerful purchasing pitches; being able to inform the final recipient at any time about the status of their order has become extremely necessary and more and more customers are demanding it.
We need to be more versatile. An overview of multidisciplinary processes and expertise
Future players in logistics
As in many industrial sectors, and even in our daily lives, the emergence of Covid-19 has led to the acceleration of technologies and processes that were not yet implemented or were in the testing phase. In this aspect, we find several technologies that will be the main players in implementing Logistics 4.0:
IOT (Internet of Things)
In short, IOT is all those electronic devices with the ability to connect to the Internet, simple as that. From a desktop computer to a supply chain cobot. And how can these networked devices improve the logistics sector? According to the specialist company Transeop, in four respects:
- They will improve the last mile delivery service, optimising delivery, traceability, and distribution processes. In the very near future, we can imagine fleets of interconnected drones that will enable fast and automated last-stage transport.
- More efficient fleet management, ready to provide emergency solutions to unexpected situations. They will also be useful in route calculation and resource optimisation.
- The IOT will allow us to have full control of supply chains. By having an automated and interconnected system, processes will be automated and possible errors in production flows will be avoided.
- Finally, warehousing will also be a major beneficiary. Stock controls, purchasing optimisation, picking and distribution processes will result in greater efficiency and better use of resources. In addition, there will be greater worker safety and fewer workplace accidents.
Blockchain, although mainly linked to the financial sector, represents a new technological paradigm that can be adapted by other sectors, including the logistics sector. Blockchain divides your data into thousands of interconnected servers that enable the creation of a secure, collaborative and decentralised data traffic system. How could blockchain be applied to logistics? One of the peculiarities of the sector is the large number of agents involved in the processes and the documents they generate. With this system, total control of the process is achieved, simplifying procedures and reducing possible errors. It will be possible to move from point A to point C without having to go through point B, thus speeding up the processes. Another aspect that would clearly be strengthened is the traceability of shipments, knowing at all times the personnel doing the handling and where they are located.
Collaborative robots could be included in the IOT section, but due to their importance we believe they deserve a specific section. Although we have been using these types of devices for years, the coming years will see their increased presence in warehouses, distribution platforms and other logistics sites. It is estimated that 80% of the world’s warehouses do not have cobots, so there is still a lot of ground to cover and the latest creation from Boston Dynamics, the stretch, is proof of this. A cobot consisting of an articulated arm on a moving surface is capable of moving 800 boxes per hour.
What will the logistics sector be looking for?
The new scenarios that are emerging will require workers who are able to adapt to the new order and trends that the sector is adopting. In this regard, roles related to the last mile, e-commerce, digitalisation and information processing will be most in demand.
The impact of new technologies will be decisive for the evolution of the sector and its adaptation to global market consumption. Data analysts and 4.0 operators will be needed who have the skill set to manage and control the different cobots in a plant, as well as optimise their performance.
At Claire Joster we specialise in the logistics sector and identifying talent to complete your teams. Through our Matching values methodology we ensure that we submit candidates who are not only highly qualified for the position in question, but also share your company’s culture and values. In this way we ensure that their integration is a success. If we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of specialists in logistics talent recruitment.