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Innovating to transform the logistics industry

Innovating to transform the logistics industry


Getting your product delivered on time every time is paramount for businesses. After all, losing a package, wrong or late deliveries not only results in confusion, it also wastes time and effort in rectifying the error. It can also hurt a brand’s reputation if end customers are constantly kept waiting.

Logistics solutions providers know this and are working tirelessly to come up with novel ways to boost delivery times, while reducing the need for extra manpower and lowering costs.

This year, TechInnovation is introducing a Logistics Innovation track, that delves into the challenges faced by the industry at its two-day technology-industry brokerage event. Held at Marina Bay Sands on 18 to 19 September, the event aims to push for new ideas and solutions.

Four leaders in the logistics industry will share how they innovate to stay ahead. Anthony Heng, Executive Director of Commonwealth Food Services; Bill Lee, Managing Partner of Azendian Solutions; Jonathan Tan, Managing Director of UnaBiz; and Prashant Dadlani, Founder and CEO of blu, will tackle pertinent topics such real-time tracking, big data, and changing consumer needs.

Strengthening cold chain management

For Heng, timely delivery is of utmost importance as his company Commonwealth Food Services handles food and other perishable items. This means food products must be received as fresh and as intact as possible, so every step of the way counts. 

Heng said the food industry is facing growing calls for higher food safety in a cost-competitive environment, as well as traceability of food products, all the way from farm to fork.

Commonwealth Food Services is a unit of Commonwealth Capital Group of Companies specialising in cold chain logistics for the food industry. On top of logistics and retail services, the Group businesses include manufacturing of meat-based products, baked goods, ice cream and ready-to-eat meals as well as barramundi farming. Some of its more well-known brands include Swissbake, Zac Meat, Kraftwich, Soup Spoon, PastaMania and Udders.

Heng oversees a 300,000 sq ft state-of-the art food production and warehousing facility in Singapore. The products are shipped to countries in the region, and even as far away as New Caledonia in the South Pacific. The purposed built facility employs temperature monitoring, recording and real-time warning sensors throughout all storage compartments.

Boosting efficiencies with Big Data

Bill Lee, Managing Partner of Azendian Solutions said that big data can help logistics firms further optimise their operations, such as inventory, delivery routes, as well as predicting customer behaviour and needs, just to name a few.

The use of advanced data management and machine learning technique will help automate mundane decision making and automate data preparation and report generation freeing up time for executives to spend more time planning ahead,” he said. 

Common applications of this new techniques help enhance productivity in areas like demand forecasting, workforce optimisation and scheduling, route optimisation, price optimisation, customer analytics, employee attrition and performance prediction.

Data and analytics is an organisation transformation tool which facilitates an organisation’s push towards digital readiness. Successful implementation involves not just technology considerations but also organisation structure, process and governance considerations.

“You cannot be big data or analytics ready by just hiring a couple of ‘data scientists’ and buying some analytics tools. Analytics are not IT projects, it is an organisational transformation initiative. Changes in the operations area and consideration of how analytics output must impact governance, mindset and culture are as important, if not more important than buying some software and hiring data scientists,” he highlighted.

Using the Internet of Things to track and protect shipments

Singapore-based Internet of Things (IoT) company UnaBiz offers affordable IoT solutions powered by Sigfox global IoT network. Logistics players operate on low margins in a mature and competitive industry. 

Tan, the Managing Director of UnaBiz, said there is immense pressure on existing players with new entrants and disruptions in the market, logistics companies need to improve their existing process and provide value-added services to their customers constantly and affordably. 

An example of this would be adopting low-power and cost-efficient sensors to track assets and monitoring their conditions throughout the entire delivery process. From something as simple as getting a notification whenever a package arranges or departs from a checkpoint, logistics company can better predict the estimated time of arrival or delays of all their shipments, better plan their fleet, warehouse space, and manpower, allowing them to reduce the downtime of delivery and increase their overall operational efficiency. This translates to a peace of mind for end customers, boosting customer satisfaction, said Tan.

E-commerce slated to open more doors for logistics companies

Founder and CEO of blu, Dadlani foresees logistics firms playing an increasingly important role with the growth of e-commerce. These firms ensure that products are stored and retrieved easily and delivered correctly and on time.  

“As connectivity becomes ubiquitous, customers grow used to immediacy. They expect their orders to arrive quickly, and for companies to respond to them in real-time,” he said. “Disgruntled customers have also complained about miscommunication in delivery timings and lack of updates,” he continued.

With more than 85 self-collection lockers, blu has one of the largest autoparcel terminal networks in Singapore, known as bluPort. Customers can shop online and collect their parcels on-the-go, from any bluPort, at their convenience. Additionally, blu offers same-day delivery to bluPort. 

“This solves the persistent problem of failed deliveries and ensures a consistent service level. With bluPort, everyone can enjoy fuss-free parcel collection,” he said. 

Businesses can save on costs as the need for deliveries is eliminated. “In Singapore, cost of petrol, diesel, insurance, ERP, parking, etc. are relatively high. Last-mile delivery companies have to find sustainable ways to keep the business going,” said Dadlani. 

Written by: Jo-Ann Huang

Jo-Ann has covered business and finance news for eight years for established news agencies in Singapore and Asia. In those years, she has interviewed many individuals, attended numerous events, crunched numbers and data to deliver accurate and concise stories, all within tight deadlines. She is now a freelance writer who covers a broad range of topics, in addition to innovation and science. She believes in delivering the story in the most effective and memorable way.