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  legacy service providers. Collaborations with new players can be synergistic and areas for partnerships diverse, ranging from Software-as- a-Service (SasS) to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS), enabling logistics companies to access and leverage on the technological strengths of new players to co-create digitally innovative solutions for the market. New players can also benefit from existing players’ experience and well-networked business relationship. It is potentially a win-win situation.
Moving Faster and
Further with Technology
The logistics sector is moving steadily through various stages of digitalisation. The initial focus was on optimised resources and integrated operations such as integrated fleet and freight and warehouse management. As the digital economy expands, the sector is able to accomplish more with shared resources and business connectivity, by focussing on supply chain integrity management, resource aggregation platforms, B2B trade facilitation platforms and federated lockers network integration to support e-commerce last-mile delivery. Further along the continuum would be the use of Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) and robotics for unmanned warehouse operations and the use of aggregated data in predictive distribution management.
The use of technology in various stages of maturity has gained momentum in the last few years. Local freight forwarding company Alliance 21 launched its online freight and fulfilment portal in 2017 with the government’s support. The portal brings together its global network of partner agents on a single digital platform; users can obtain quotes and make freight bookings more easily, and consignors can track the shipments from any web-based device. This strengthens the company’s position to compete with larger multinational third-party logistics companies. Another example is the partnership
between Shalom Movers and UT-Ways to pioneer the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for freight information submission and retrieval. This innovative endeavour, supported by the government and Republic Polytechnic, led to time savings of 67 percent per airway bill submitted.
Data from the Robotic Industries Association show that between 2019 and 2021, sale of logistics robots is projected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 18 percent. According to McKinsey, robotics will become cheaper. This will increase the uptake of robotics adoption in warehouses and last-mile delivery. Robotics- as-a-Service (RaaS) provides an alternative path for logistics providers to access robotics functionalities without up-front capital expense.
Analytics will also feature strongly as an IT necessity as more data-driven decisions need to be made. According to the 24th Annual Third- Party Logistics Study 2020, 94 percent of shippers believe analytics is helpful for ensuring on-time and complete order fulfilment and shipment visibility. This requires logistics providers to build an IT data strategy beyond basic analytics to transform and mine data for business insights.
Technology adoption in logistics features prominently in various government support programmes. SLA, together with members of the Logistics Alliance, will spearhead a new three-
year roadmap focussed on technology adoption and exploring opportunities in overseas markets. Supported under the Enterprise Singapore’s Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) Programme, the roadmap is expected to benefit over 700 companies.
Revving Up for the Next Lap
The logistics sector is no stranger to change. The chain of value-added services provided has grown rapidly in the decades since logistics outsourcing started. From warehousing and inventory management to order fulfilment; from supply chain solutioning to strategy formulation, the wheels of enterprise are in constant motion to keep pace with business and consumer demands. Doing much more than just moving products from one place to another, our companies are creating dynamic and responsive supply chains for businesses.
In a tough operating environment, logistics partnerships need to go beyond short-term, tactical objectives such as cost reduction and service improvements to focus on longer-term strategies through supply chain management, fourth-party logistics (4PL) and consulting services. Logistics providers that can align themselves to their clients’ strategic direction can break out of the conventional customer- supplier relationship. This is a source of service differentiation.

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