In an age when robotics are threatening the jobs of many functions previously performed by people, this story will come as good news to those in the logistics industry who feel they may one day become redundant due to Mr Robot walking in and taking over.
Competitive logistics providers know it is all about speed, agility, reliability and even versatility. Delivering all of this requires intelligent logistics – a growing concept the world over. However, while this refers to leveraging digital technology, people still remain at the core of logistics says Detlev Duve, managing director of Dachser South Africa.
“Smart logistics means having to do many things at the same time. But you only have intelligent logistics if you have the right people to bring it all together. Intelligent logistics operates across several dimensions but if these systems are not accurately and timeously brought together, the process could collapse. It is not just about having the best technology and systems in place,” says Duve.
Of course, there is no denying the importance of the latest technology for a global logistics service provider. Having the ability to track and trace, respond in real time, deliver speedily and offer choice and visibility along the way requires an ongoing and significant investment in technology.
But Duve reiterates that just as important as the tools are the staff operating these systems. “Automatic processes and digital movements of cargo are made possible via a network of well trained and skilled people who understand the complexities of the logistics supply chain and are able to adapt the systems and work with colleagues all over the world.”
For Duve, smart logistics also requires ongoing commitment to education and skills development in the logistics industry. Dachser South Africa runs an apprenticeship as well as being involved internationally in various educational programmes. Duve believes that educating new generations of logistics workers is a logical investment to make.
Dachser South Africa trains up to 15 learners each year and since the inception of the programme in 2012, has been able to employ 70% of its graduate learners. In fact, The Institute for Quality (EID) in South Africa has awarded Dachser South Africa for its exemplary performance, dedication and commitment to contributing to a skilled South Africa through the Dachser Learnership Programme.
In addition, Dachser South Africa mirrors the company’s global practice of ensuring continuous training and education in order to create knowledgeable employees. This is implemented through a formal training committee that identifies development needs.
“In each department, we find there are evolving market challenges, changes in the environment and in regulations that affect our work. Our training committee ensures that our teams get the training they need to keep ahead of these changes and offer the best service to our clients,” says Duve.
Duve explains that skills within the logistics sector are rapidly diversifying and all employees need to pursue broader areas of learning to remain competitive.
“Companies need to train their employees consistently. A solid base of logistics management skills, including the tactical and strategic aspects, is critical for a company to exist within the competitive logistics environment. Excellent logistics is run by smart people.”