Embrace wave of digitisation and disruption or get left behind – Multimodal 2018

Birmingham, UK, Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 – Technology providers have urged shippers and freight forwarders to embrace the wave of digitisation and disruption that is sweeping the logistics and supply chain industries, or face “getting squashed”.

Speaking during the “Digital disruption – how logistics is changing and what you can do about it” panel on day one of Multimodal 2018, Simon Clark, Vice President of Business Development for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at WiseTech Global, asserted that some two-thirds of UK warehouses do not even operate a warehouse management system.

In response, Mike Holdsworth, Sector Development Director – Transportation, for satellite communications giant Inmarsat, told fellow panellists and delegates attending the session in Birmingham that it is “imperative” for 3PLs to innovate.

“Otherwise they might simply get squashed – right now is the time to be looking to invest in things such as automation,” Holdsworth said.

“We are right at the point where Internet of Things (IoT) is key and you should at least be researching these technologies just to survive.

“The UK government is testing truck platooning on the UK roads right now, and in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and pharmaceuticals we will see the widespread deployment of robotics.”

Holdsworth also told the audience that the companies serving those industries have to understand that “robots and automation will come into use wherever there is a commercial imperative to improve efficiency”.

And he predicted a future in freight which would be dominated by robotic operations: “I don’t personally believe we are too far away from the time when cars will roll off a factory production line and then drive themselves to a ferry port where they load themselves onto a ferry – which will probably also be unmanned – and then ultimately drive themselves to the end consumer.”

However, this would not spell the end of the freight forwarding business, argued Daniel MacGregor, Director of Marketing and Sales at industrial IoT pioneer Nexiot.

“Freight forwarders are the original innovators – it is what their business model is based on and there are still great opportunities for them and the industry to hugely improve service levels thanks to increased use of technology,” he said.

“Look at the growing self-service capabilities – a top ten shipping line gets around 400,000 phone calls a month, mostly asking about incorrect documentation, shipment status, or a vessel status, and all these queries could be done without humans having to talk to each other, and thus freeing up a vast amount of employee time to concentrate on what humans are really good at, which is customer service and creating more value through innovation.

“I really hope that this year the industry will move from concentrating on cost to concentrating on value, and value creation that facilitates more business.”


To download this article as a Word click here or as a PDF click here

Picture caption – for a high-resolution version, click on the image

Left to right – Simon Clark, Vice President of Business Development for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at WiseTech Global; Daniel MacGregor, Director of Marketing and Sales, at industrial Internet of Things pioneer Nexiot; and Mike Holdsworth, Sector Development Director – Transportation, Inmarsat.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 13.29.42


About Multimodal 2018 

Multimodal is the UK and Ireland’s leading freight transport and logistics exhibition, which also features a series of topical seminars and master classes, and hosts a Shippers’ Village, giving freight buyers a private space to meet logistics suppliers.

The supply chain show, in its 11th year, is free-to-attend and Multimodal 2018 is currently taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 1st – 3rd May 2018.

Multimodal 2017 was the biggest in the show’s history, with over 345 exhibitors and a record-breaking attendance of 9,449 supply chain executives.

The FTA Multimodal Awards Night took place last night (1st May) at the VOX at Resorts World at the NEC, and welcomed over 800 guests.

The Awards recognise excellence in air, road, rail, maritime, and freight forwarding services and are voted for by the thousands of readers of the Multimodal newsletter, as well as FTA members, and exhibitors at Multimodal.

For more information visit www.multimodal.org.uk