The last few years have seen massive changes take place in the logistics industry and a lot of them are because of the new, disruptive technologies that are emerging. Some of these have the potential to revolutionize how shipping and distribution work, and it’s important to be aware when searching for new opportunities.
A good understanding of technology is one of the most important skills that recruiters are looking for, so while there is no need to be an expert on the various programs it is important to be up-to-date and familiar with the changes taking place.
Consumers are demanding increasingly flexible and transparent delivery methods, with a greater degree of personalisation. Every day new distribution models appear and the demand for speed has meant that distribution centres are becoming less and less centralised. Now, shoppers can choose to pick up packages at their local store, use an on-demand courier service, or choose exactly when and how they want their goods delivered. Additionally, consumers want to be able to track their parcels, giving more insights to the consumer than ever before.
For job seekers these changes can give exciting and plentiful opportunities, whether this is in the courier service, utilizing these new technologies, implementing them or improving the processes, as well as in the growing sector of customer relationships and service within transport and logistics.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a catch-all term that describes the smart abilities of everyday objects to collect and send data. These capabilities have massive implications for the logistics and transport industries as it means that real time data can be collected on all sorts of things: the GPS positions of freight, estimated arrival times, delays and fuel consumption can now all be sent from automatic logging devices without the need for any manual input. Collection of this real time data can allow shippers to respond to bottlenecks in the delivery process and improve their systems over time.
Automatic data capturing through technologies such as RFID tags and Bluetooth is especially useful in the transportation of goods such as food, medical supplies, or biologically hazardous material. Moving these things must conform with lots of different regulations for safety, temperature and hygiene. Therefore using devices which automatically collect data is an easy way for companies to demonstrate their compliance with these regulations.
What this means for job seekers: if you work delivering goods in of the specialist areas mentioned above you can certainly expect to work with IoT in some form, but the technology is also being used to track and trace all sorts of other data in many different fields. Employers will be looking to see that you can adapt, incorporate data into your day to day activities and are able to understand and analyze it. They’ll want to see you understand the importance of compliance law and accurate data collection methods.
Cloud storage has had a number of effects on the logistics and transportation industries. One of which is that it has enabled smaller companies to invest in complex and high tech transport management softwares (TMS). Previously, these systems were only cost effective for large companies. TMS systems can often link with tracking technologies and give companies a massive new insight into how efficiently their distribution systems are running.
The implication for job seekers is that because so many companies are looking to harness the power of big data there is a real need for skilled professionals who can understand and manipulate all this information. Data always needs someone to interpret it and for that reason companies are on the look-out for people with experience in statistics, data analysis and process optimization.
They also want to see that you are used to making data-driven decisions in your work at whatever level and that you can implement and test out new solutions based on big data sets. For this reason expect to see an increase in supply chain management and project management roles which emphasize working with digital technologies and complex transport management systems.
Robots are entering the work force in many industries, and transport and logistics is no exception. They have become particularly relevant in warehouses where they are used to help pick and sort inventory. Similarly, augmented reality tech such as smart glasses which tell warehouse workers where to look for particular items. DHL recently trialled an augmented reality system using smart glasses with their warehouse pickers, and Amazon has rolled out 15,000 robots to help with its picking, so at the moment it’s mainly the big companies who are leading the way.
These changes continue to affect the industry, and their final effect on job seekers cannot yet be determined. But, it’s worthwhile keeping an eye on the big trends if you are looking for positions in warehouse or inventory management. Just like big data, complex solutions require highly skilled professionals to implement and monitor them so as these technologies become more ubiquitous expect to see an increase in the demand for IT and engineering roles within the logistics field.