I recently had the pleasure of moderating an automotive industry ‘Think Tank’ on Next Generation Warehousing. Organised by Automotive Logistics UK, the event was attended by automotive industry OEMs, together with suppliers of warehouse technology/automation and a third party logistics company.

One of the topics up for discussion was the role of automation and robotics within automotive industry supply chains.

Despite robotic technology being readily available, increasingly affordable and portable, a number of automotive OEMs expressed frustration at the slow take up of automation within the logistics sector.

The cost of automating many repetitive manual tasks within the warehouse is coming down, but there remains a perception that automation represents a commitment to long term investment. This is not necessarily the case. Indeed, ROI can be achieved within as short a period as a year.

From the strength of the opinions voiced, it is particularly important that 3PLs serving the automotive sector – and indeed any sector – take a fresh look at the advantages of automation.

A number of the executives from the automotive companies represented at the ‘Think Tank’ also expressed concern that outsourcing to a 3PL might increase their risk of falling victim to cyber crime.

The feeling was that cyber risk was likely to be a bigger threat going forward and the need to integrate data between collaborating parties – such as an OEM and its 3PL partner – was seen to drive increased risk of cyber breach.

UKWA has already identified the rising risks of cyber crime and has highlighted the importance of addressing the problem to UKWA members. That’s why we are partnering with insurance specialists Perry Appleton and Travelers to help members understand where they may be vulnerable, to recommend measures to minimise the risk of attack and offer response and recovery support to ensure that it’s ‘Business As Usual’ should a breach occur.

The Next Generation Warehouse ‘Think Tank’ offered a fascinating insight into the views of those working in the automotive sector, and highlighted some of their preconceptions about 3PLs and their anxieties about outsourcing logistics.

This will be a big topic at the 2020 UKWA National Conference, where we aim to break down some of the barriers, share best practice between industries and open up new opportunities for collaboration.

Taking place at the Hallmark Queen Hotel, Chester, on 3-4 March 2020, the two-day event will deliver an excellent opportunity to hear thought leaders, learn about emerging technologies and network with other senior professionals from the 3PL community alongside leading logistics users within the UK’s manufacturing, retail, automotive and aviation sectors.

And, with a full schedule of influential speakers, keynotes, discussion panels, networking opportunities and more, all those who attend 2020’s UKWA conference can expect to take away something that will prove invaluable as they strive to guide their businesses through these fast evolving times. I thoroughly recommend that anyone involved in warehousing, logistics or supply chain planning clears space in their diary to be part of this essential event.

Peter Ward

UKWA, CEO