Welcome to our first edition of the year and decade, which promises challenging times but great opportunities in which the best of logistics practices will sort the winners from the also-rans.
Since we must eschew crystal balls-gazing we must consider the logistics experts’ take on what logistics has in store. One date to put in your calendar is May 13-14, when at the Farnborough International Conference Centre the 2020 Future Logistics Conference will he held. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has just published its speaker programme, headed by astronaut, Tim Peake, which will have four contents streams to examine the issues set to challenge the future logistics industry under the headings of: future business strategies, future communities, future data and future vehicles. It will be held alongside the first ITT hub event.
Elsewhere you will be able to read what else the FTA is doing to make logistics operations easier. One example is the launch of its online guide, Brake Test Report, to demystify brake test reports because commercial vehicle operators are struggling to decipher their brake test results.
To prevent disappointment over the 2020 Christmas deliveries, the FTA calls for robust action to address the growing shortage of 59,000 HGV drivers. In part, this calls for political action requiring amendment to the Government’s post Brexit immigration policy to retain existing EU workers and welcome new ones after Britain leaves the EU. Behind the pressure build up to deliver on time is the remorseless rise in online shopping, which over the Christmas period accounted for 42% of all sales.
In our property section you will learn why the 10-year exuberance over warehouse developments, driven by online shopping, is losing steam in certain areas and being replaced with caution. Observing the current trends could point to less risky investment strategies. One steady rock that shows no sign of slowing is the demand dedicated e-fulfilment centres trying to cope with ‘last-mile’ deliveries. The outlook for more design & build developments is also promising, but outside the popular area of the Midlands golden triangle. According to one seasoned logistics operator, central hubs are not up to the job in the new online scenario. New developments are also less likely to set up in areas of very low unemployment. The North, however, does seem to offer good prospects if the Government delivers on its promises for 10 new freeports and on the HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), which could transform not just the North but the entire country’s economy.
In our ports section we look at the challenges facing sea ports, which are greater than ever, particularly over environmental issues, but even so the opportunities to grow national exports post Brexit have never been higher. But to achieve those promising opportunities there must be greater collaboration between trade associations and Government departments that try to support and increase UK trade, a need that applies equally as much to road/rail/air logistics providers. The potential for boosting visible exports is huge, given that only one eleventh of companies export at all. It seems that 400,000 companies have something to export but do not do so. This need to boost visible exports substantially is vital because the country’s chronic balance of payments deficits cannot continue indefinitely by relying on capital inflows. Are you ready to meet the challenges and reap the rewards?
Finally, why not check out our transport section to see what the industry needs from Government post Brexit through a mutually agreed free trade deal if Britain’s full potential is to be realised.