European Supply Chain Day Interview: What have you learned about the logistics industry since joining Ti?
Our newest researchers Sam Sprigg and Madison Bird describe their experience with the industry so far, and how much they have learned.
What did you know about Logistics before joining Ti?
MB: My previous knowledge about logistics basically stems from a consumer perspective, i.e. ordering things from Amazon and utilising track and trace technology. My mum also works for PHS which conducts deliveries, so from that I had some insight into how that side of the process worked.
SS: I was aware of logistics as a general process and that it was, in the simplest terms, about getting one thing from A to B. I knew a bit just from experience working in supermarkets as a teenager, so the delivery process, organisation of stock and warehousing processes, picking and packing, etc., but I never gave it all that much thought at the time. I don’t think I would have really appreciated that I was part of a supply chain; I would have seen it more of just a job. But really I would have been working right in the middle of a major supermarket’s logistics operations. So inadvertently, probably a bit more experience than I would have initially thought.
What interests you about logistics?
MB: I suppose how it interacts with different industries like the American railway industry and how really integral to their economy it actually is. I am very interested in learning about industrial real estate and warehousing distribution.
SS: For me it’s the technology side of things… that’s kind of where I got a bit of my prior knowledge of logistics from, so the equipment that is used to carry out operations. I like the fleet side of things, the planes and the ships and all the development that goes into that side of it, so when you get a chance to actually look at a new kind of plane and the technology that allows it to function, its genuinely quite impressive to see.
Having covered the industry for a little while now, what has surprised you the most?
MB: It would have to be the IT systems. I knew about warehouse management systems, and about things like parcel tracking software, but I didn’t realise quite how complex these systems were and how fast they can evolve. Looking at things like the ‘Uberisation’ of services and Amazon’s Prime Now is so interesting because they’ve only really come to the forefront in the past year or so.
SS: Just the extent of how vast the industry is – with every obscure little trading estate that you drive past there’s probably several logistics providers of some degree there. Having never worked on it before, you suddenly get the realisation that it just has such a massive role in everyday life. For example, the delivery of your post in the morning and the operation involved behind that is something I would have never given too much thought to before.
How do your individual roles connect to the logistics industry?
SS: I get the nitty-gritty details out of a company’s overarching plan, out of the raw data, and condense it down so it is just the most important stuff that companies need. In terms of GSCI and the other online resources we provide, I handle the start of the process all the way through to the finished product which everyone sees on the GSCI portal, so my current role is really about making all of this information user-friendly.
What Would you say to anybody interested in starting a career in logistics?
MB: Start looking at the state of the industry when you research it, but don’t just limit yourself to one particular area, because so many factors have an impact on the sector; geopolitical events like earthquakes and terrorist attacks all have an effect, so keep abreast of the latest news because everything ties in together… there are lots of options related to all of these things, like risk analysis for example, and research, which you might not necessarily think about beforehand.
SS: Don’t dismiss logistics, because it’s just so broad and you could you could go down any avenue really. Any industry anywhere has at least some need for logistics, for example, today I’m looking at Borussia Dortmund’s logistics operations in Germany so that’s a football team, but equally you could be looking at defence projects for the military which is completely different… You can follow whatever route you want to really because there is so much variety that you can almost align yourself to your own area of interests once you are in the logistics industry.