Logistics is a key component in food supply chains and is the process by which ingredients and products are distributed to the correct locations and in the right quantities.
A key change in the logistics sector that is taking place is the increasing number of stakeholders that are now involved in logistics activities. Typically, logistics was only required to deliver products to meet customer service at the lowest possible cost, however wider stakeholders are now involved that want to understand about the provenance of goods through to the climate change impacts of the logistics activities involved.
The complexity of logistics has further increased as traditional distribution channels are challenged by disruptive entrants. The resultant changes on the high street have changed customer behaviour that has driven the modifications in logistics. Customers are now expecting, and demanding products be delivered when and where they like, with an ever-increasing choice. Logistics has had to cope with the development of omni-channel options and introduce efficient reverse logistics.
Future logistics will have to cope with the needs of other external stakeholders, where lower and zero carbon delivery options will be required and the development of new modes – eCargo bikes are readily available. Additionally, the demand for road space for other users will drive the need for collaboration to deliver increased vehicle fill.
Automation is also entering the logistics world with robots increasingly being adopted to undertake manual repetitive tasks and self-driving vehicles moving in convoys has already been trialled.
Manufacturers will only be able to navigate this complex logistics environment by undertaking digital transformations where digitised information can be transferred and shared across organisations seamlessly. It will no longer be acceptable for duplication of information to exist, rather information will need to be shared to deliver immediate transparency and relevancy as needed. Digitalisation will have to occur in an environment where security of information is becoming increasingly more important and international regulations (e.g. GDPR) will demand operators and companies ensure that correct levels of privacy are maintained. Collaborative logistics operations will need to deliver ever increasing efficiencies and include the needs of wider stakeholders in efficient and reliable processes, which are likely to be IT based solutions.