Welcome to the first quarterly Warehouse & Logistics News Logistics Supplement, focusing on the movement of goods outside the warehouse by road, rail, sea and air.

Technology is changing but vans and other light commercial vehicles as we know them won’t be going away any time soon, as Grahame Neagus, Renault Trucks’ Head of LCV confirms in our exclusive interview. Best known for its Master range Renault Trucks UK has a long track record of supplying commercial vehicles to British and Irish industry and offers a full range from 2.8 tonnes to 44 tonnes in the distribution, long haul and construction sectors. Renault Trucks recently launched three important new additions to its pre-bodied LCV ‘Ready for Business’ range, including the Renault Trucks Master Optilogistics van, purpose-designed for the operational challenges of the parcels and logistics sector.

Staying with commercial vehicles, at the recent 2018 CV Show Ford strengthened its range with the allnew Fiesta Van and advanced connectivity. The Fiesta van and the new Transit Connect are the first commercial vehicles in Europe to enhance productivity and convenience for businesses using the new FordPass Connect on-board modem technology.

Other innovative solutions for urban transportation include the Transit Custom plug-in hybrid from the London fleet trial and a digital service concept for more cost-efficient and speedy last-mile deliveries.

As an operational model, we have grown used to big businesses having a mixture of outsourced and in-house logistics operations. That looks like continuing to be the model for some time to come. Amazon, one of the driving forces in global logistics, if not THE driving force, has revealed it is going to hang onto its current blend of the two for now but will continue to invest in its own transport capabilities, to cater for growth.

It’s widely accepted automation will play an increasing role in logistics operations in general from here on in and there is pressure for the UK to switch over and not be cautious, or risk missing out. But despite all the talk about driverless lorries and other vehicles, according to the experts few in the industry expect to see fully autonomous trucks within a decade, and they are likely to require drivers on board even when highly automated. It won’t happen quickly either: workforces will have time to be retrained and businesses will transition at a controlled pace. Meanwhile a survey by UK-based seafaring union Nautilus International found scepticism about autonomous shipping and an “overwhelming belief” that they will be a threat to safety at sea. While autonomous ships are portrayed as improving safety by eliminating “human factor,” respondents weren’t so sure, with 85% considering unmanned, remotely controlled vessels a threat to safety at sea.

Back in the UK, right now the biggest challenge for logistics professionals is road congestion, which the government needs to address as a matter of urgency, and is the biggest argument for a greater use of rail freight services. The INRIX 2017 Global Traffic Scorecard shows the UK ranks in the top ten most congested countries in the world. Congestion is estimated to cost the economy £37.7 billion in 2017. In the meantime at least there is hope of an end to paperwork. Accenture has developed a ‘blockchain’ solution it reckons could save the freight and logistics industry hundreds of millions of pounds each year, by eliminating the need for printed shipping documents