KLG Europe

Top global logistics companies descend on Venlo for logistics congress.

14 October 2015

"You don't know your next competitor"

The crème de la crème of the logistics world has settled in Venlo. Until Friday the top people talk about the future of their industry

Source: Dagblad de Limburger (text in Dutch)


The entrance fee shows that we are not dealing with an ordinary congress. Three days of discussion about logistics in the Venlo Maaspoort cost 3695 euros. Including lunch, of course.

The conference is not intended for the ordinary person who is somehow involved with logistics. Until tomorrow the Maaspoort will be the domain of top managers from all over the world, the people who have a say in logistics. They have to decide where logistics should go. The list of participants includes the names of top executives from companies known to the general public such as DHL, UPS, Seacon Logistics and KLG Europe. But clients for the logistics industry, Vodafone, Spar, Philips, Media-Saturn, also sent their top bosses. In this context, it is noteworthy that the organization of the congress, called EFT-summit, has chosen Venlo. The Venlo-Venray region may have been logistics hotspot No. 1 in the Netherlands for years, but there are very few companies in this city where the big bosses also sit. For example, the primal Venlo logistics company Frans Maas was once bought by the Danish DSV. Océ has been incorporated by Canon in Japan for several years. This means that the fate of this activity is being decided elsewhere. Anyway, bringing in the congress does put Venlo nicely in the list of cities such as London, Dubai, Singapore, Antwerp, Chicago and Atlanta, where the meeting was organized before.

It is already clear from this list that logistics is no longer a regional business. On a global level, logistics companies have grown tremendously through acquisitions. "You don't know who your next competitor is," is now a common saying in the logistics world. Competition is cutthroat, see chairman René Richters of the SMART Logistics Center, in interest club of logistics in North Limburg, earlier in the newspaper. The economic crisis over the past six years has ensured that there was mainly talk about cost reduction and competing on price. The crisis has caused people to mainly talk about "how to survive." Things can't get cheap enough. And that in turn leads to the necessary excesses in the personnel field. Trade union FNV is currently on a crusade against logistics companies in the Netherlands that, whether forced by necessity or not, in its eyes do not take the rules very closely.

How does logistics get out of that spiral where all is cost? That is one of the topics being discussed these days. One solution is to provide additional "value" to customers. Logistics must think with the customers about solving the problems. Because the customer's customer (the consumer), is also changing. Who is less and less going out the door to go to the store. The modern customer wants a pair of boots she orders over the Internet at 9:59 p.m. in the evening to be delivered no later than 10 a.m. the following day. And if she doesn't like the boots, she wants to be relieved of the mis-buy as quickly as possible.

Such a modern consumer creates enormous headaches for the manufacturer, supplier and logistics. The latter is expected to build super-modern distribution centers that are vastly different from traditional warehouses. And will the boots still be delivered by the package deliverer driving around in a bus?

Technology is going to bring many more changes. Will a drone soon land on the sidewalk from which the boots are hanging? And does the truck driver still have a future? Experiments are under way with driverless trucks. And then you have the smart glasses making their appearance in warehouses. Tests at DHL and TNT show that orders can be "picked" much more efficiently. And then there is 3D technology. More and more items produced elsewhere can now be printed where they are needed.

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