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 revolutionise how shipping and distribution work, and it’s important to be aware of them when you’re on the hunt for jobs.
A good understanding of technology is one of the most important skills that recruiters are looking for when it comes to logistics and transportation hires. This doesn’t mean that you need to have an in-depth understanding of every technology or software, but it does mean you should be up-to-date and familiar with the changes taking place.
Ecommerce and omni-channel delivery
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.
Customers also want to know exactly where their goods are so there’s increasing moves towards transparency in the delivery process and the development of tracking technologies which provide updates for both the distributor and the customer. These technologies are also being expanded to give customers a greater insight into the supply chain as a whole.
What it means for job seekers: The rise and rise of ecommerce and online shopping is great news for logistics job seekers as it means that there are plenty of opportunities being created. In fact, many countries are currently experiencing a massive shortage in delivery drivers.
It is also means that logistics companies are beginning to focus more on customer satisfaction as dispatch and delivery becomes more personalised. Now, how things are delivered is just as important to customers as what is being delivered. If you are looking for jobs in this area employers will want to see that you know how they position themselves within this market, and what customer service elements they prioritise.
The Internet of Things
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 flexibly respond to bottlenecks in the delivery process and improve their systems over time.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is likely to make big impacts in areas where there is a lot of regulation on how cargo should be transported. 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, hygiene and so on and using devices which automatically collect data is an easy way for companies to demonstrate their compliance with these regulations.
What it 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 to incorporating data into your day to day activities and are able to understand and analyse it on the go. They’ll want to see you understand the importance of compliance law and accurate data collection methods.
Big Data and the Cloud
The advent of 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 software (TMS). Previously, these systems were only cost effective for large companies. TMS systems can often link in with tracking technologies and give companies a massive new insight into how efficiently their distribution systems are running.
What it means for job seekers: 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 statistical experience and with a track record of increasing productivity.
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 emphasise working with digital technologies and complex transport management systems.
Robotics and Augmented Reality
It may seem a little bit space-age, but robots are slowly but surely entering the workforce. Robotics technologies are 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 look set to become the norm. 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.
What it means for job seekers: The effects that robotics and augmented reality will have for job seekers are hard to predict, as the technology is still relatively new. 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.