Leaders in Logistics 2019 Panel: Logistics Revolution Drivers
The logistics industry is evolving fast through digitisation, led by three main drivers – IoT, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Since everything is already internet-connected, these three make the supply chain more efficient. Businesses must understand why this trend is taking place, and this panel looked at its potential costs, obstacles, and benefits, and what it means for the future of logistics in the UAE.
Moderator: Atif Rafiq, CEO & Founder, Qafila
Panelists: Walid Daniel, Managing Director, SPAN Group
Ahmad Chamseddine, Commercial Manager, IQ fulfilment
Mustapha Kawam, CEO & Managing Partner, IBX Logistics
Brent Melvin, CEO, Gallega Global Logistics
Ahmad Chamseddine: IQ Fulfilment is the first fully automated warehouse operator in the region. The challenge with disruption is that it isn’t about disrupting for the sake of it, its about identifying what the future demand is going to be and putting in place a product to meet that demand. The overriding demand has always been for a faster and more professional service and through automation we’re able to do that.
Technology is shaping the future. We don’t fully comprehend what these technologies are going to do for our future. Who would have thought the smart phone would cause the explosion we’ve seen in e-commerce? The only thing we can do is ensure that we stay abreast of the potential threats presented by these new technologies. It’s a catalyst for digitization and through that business can ensure its in the best position to be able to adapt.
Mustapha Kawam: Disruption is about what you want to offer to your customers. In the US there is a shortage of drivers for example, so Uber Freight has worked very well, in this region we have a surplus of drivers, so it isn’t relevant. But what we do face is a problem of trucks returning empty after doing deliveries to Saudi Arabia. How do we optimize to ensure we aren’t doing empty hauls? This is a more important issue for logistics operators in the UAE in particular.
You don’t want to invest in technology or the next big disruption just for the sake of it and then find that it doesn’t give you the ROI you need. For example, everyone is talking about automation in warehousing right now, but a more important aspect in my opinion might be compliance. Integrating systems to ensure that you’re compliant with global regulations can vastly increase the transit times in cross-border logistics, to a much greater extent than robotic vehicles or drones or any of these other buzzword technologies.
Brent Melvin: The shipping container standardized the industry, while digitization is doing the opposite. It’s driving change and creating disruption. We won’t be an industry talking with one voice. An example is blockchain, which has not been embraced by everyone and won’t offer the same benefit for all supply chain operators.
When it comes to digitization it’s about understanding what it means to you as an organization. It’s a minefield of software solutions and providers and they all offer the world, but I need to take different elements and stitch them together to offer what I need to my customers in order to remain ahead of the curve. Deciding what components are most important to your business is the most important question. Asking what is the next disruptor is probably the worst question, because that’s not for us to ask. We need to ask how these new technologies impact our business and how can we use them to enhance our operations. Don’t be fooled by the buzzwords like digitization, IoT and so on.