As Exclusive Sponsors of The Charted Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) – Fellows’ Lunch; The Supply Chain Consulting Group, Director, Gavin Parnell– delivered a speech on ‘The future of the profession’ – underlining how the next 100 years will contain new technological, social and economic developments.
Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Gavin Parnell and I am a Director of The Supply Chain Consulting Group. We help companies to make and implement the right decisions through our supply chain, logistics, warehouse and transport consultancy services.
First, I’d like to thank the Institute for giving us the opportunity to sponsor this great event. I hope you have all enjoyed the lunch as much as I have, and I would like to extend our thanks to RIBA and to the caterers for providing such a superb venue and great food and drink.
It’s heart-warming to see so many logistics leaders present today at what is of course a busy time of year.
I have worked in logistics since the start of my career, working initially in third-party logistics and moving into consultancy in 2004 following an MSc at Cranfield School of Management.
Now at The Supply Chain Consulting Group, I am fortunate enough to be involved with exciting and varied projects, with clients who are leaders within their sectors – looking to continually optimise distribution centres and networks, reduce costs, improve customer experience and reduce their environmental footprint. I am proud to be part of a business that I helped to create, and which provides high quality analysis and insight. We have built a strong team who enjoy challenging and sustainable careers.
Our industry underpins so much economic activity. Ordinary people rely on us to deliver their daily needs and, at this time of year, everything that we associate with Black Friday through Christmas.
This year and today we are celebrating 100 years of the Institute, a period that covers much of the development of modern transport systems, transformation of the retail sector and food production, globalisation of supply chains, and the period in which computing has become ubiquitous. We now enjoy software delivered flexibly and securely via the cloud, amazing mobile technology and connectivity, large scale, low cost data storage accessible from anywhere. We may not be living in an era of flying cars or personal jetpacks but the developments that have happened have been just as transformative.
Even within the span of my logistics career, 24 years so far, I have witnessed huge change, particularly in the emergence of the Internet as an important sales channel and as the hub of all business communications and transactions. Our industry has become more visible at the sharp end as consumers are increasingly summoning deliveries directly to their front doors.
The CILT and its members have played a major role in the development of logistics and transport over the last 100 years. Over time the industry has needed more and more professionally qualified people and, as customers have become more demanding, and competition between supply chains has increased, so the prevalence and visibility of supply chain professionals on company boards has increased.
More than ever before we can bring powerful analysis and the experience of networked, qualified professionals together to solve complex challenges.
And one thing that does not change is the determination of logistics and transport professionals to deliver ever improving services to businesses and the public. The work ethic, professionalism and service ethos within the industry are phenomenal.
We do not know for certain what the future will hold but the challenges we are facing at the moment might give us some clues.
Changing buying habits with smaller, more frequent purchasing, expectations of a wide range of products, smaller batches and greater customisation.
The high level of returns associated with e-commerce where we must learn to cope with ‘returns’ being our biggest single supplier, or perhaps there are ways to improve user experience or influence behaviour to reduce returns.
The focus on environmental issues, be it reducing carbon footprint throughout the supply chain, looking at packaging alternatives, or facing up to the fact that the air in this city and others has not always been clean enough, and must be improved.
The use of our strategy development and analysis capabilities to drive efficiencies which impact on both cost and carbon, as we continue to reduce all forms of waste be it excess packaging, empty miles or excess inventory.
The last few years have seen a background of political uncertainty that has sometimes made it difficult for companies to make the investments that we need to see made.
Nonetheless we are seeing increased interest in automation as the technology develops, becomes more flexible and affordable. With the UK’s logistics sector employing over 2.3 million people across 200,000 workplaces, we as logisticians are key players in the UK’s productivity improvement challenge.
The next 100 years will contain new technological, social and economic developments that we cannot imagine. Our children and grandchildren may have job titles that are unknown today. We need to work hard to attract the best people to our profession, to present it positively to the outside world and to recognise and promote talent wherever we find it.
We must never be complacent. But whatever challenges and opportunities the next 100 years may hold I believe we as industry professionals are well equipped to address them head on.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy festive season.