A Day with Transport Management Solutions

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Whilst nearly everything is going digital these days, the best way to build knowledge and understanding of clients will always be face-to-face. Nothing is going to disrupt that.  To build deep insight you need to go out on site – regularly – to witness, learn and discuss the day to day operations of the business and its people.

Fiona McUtchen from the Chandler Macleod People Insights (CMPI) team recently visited Mohammed Kassaby Managing Director at Transport Management Solutions (TMS) to tour the Keysborough warehouse and to find out more about current challenges and opportunities within his business and the industry more broadly.

TMS is one of Australia’s up and coming logistics management companies providing solutions in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. They take care of everything from procurement to shipping, warehousing, international transportation and looking after stock for packaging and customer needs.

A hands-on, ‘passionate about the people’ MD, Mohammed offers an insightful perspective into the disruptive forces shaking up the logistics industry and shares his observations on the shifting expectations of both the customers and employees he works for and with every day.

CMPI – What do you see as the biggest opportunities in the Transport/Logistics industry over the next couple of years?

MK – Technology – Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Big Data. There is often a term thrown around in our industry stating ‘data is king’. It’s not, information is king. Information is a combination of data, predictions, habits, feedback and all matters relating to improved performance within the industry. The best way to harness all this is through AI. We have already seen this in its infancy at Amazon. The AI build at Amazon is amazing.  It knows what you are going to buy next, based on previous buying habits, and it’s already prepacked before you press the “buy” button. This was previously known as Demand Planning and Forecasting. Even this department implements all the relevant calculations and formulae, but the best possible way to predict buying habits is through “gut feel.” Now through AI, we are seeing very early stages of intelligent agents mimicking human intuitive behaviour. With the surge of the consumer online shopping, and further developments in AI, we can take enormous pressure off the logistics sector by predicting what the consumer will purchase next, and have the goods prepacked, and ready for delivery. Not only does this apply to the B2C sector but also to the B2B market. The potential is enormous.

CMPI –  What about the greatest challenges, threats or disruptors? How does a company like TMS prepare for them?

MK – Customer expectations are increasing greatly. Both individuals and businesses expect to get goods faster, more flexibly, and – in the case of consumers – at low or no delivery cost. Manufacturing is becoming more and more customised, which is good for customers but hard work for the logistics industry. Add it all up and the sector is under acute and growing pressure to deliver a better service at an ever lower cost. It can only hope to do this by making maximum and intelligent use of technology, from data analytics, to automation, to the ‘Physical Internet’. This promises lower costs, improved efficiency, and the opportunity to make genuine breakthroughs in the way the industry works. But ‘digital fitness’ is a challenge for the sector, which is currently lagging behind many of its customers in this respect. Attracting the right skills is one issue, but developing the right strategy is even more crucial. An increasingly competitive environment is another big factor in the mix. Some of the sector’s own customers are starting up logistics operations of their own, and new entrants to the industry are finding ways to carve out the more lucrative elements of the value chain by exploiting digital technology or new ‘sharing’ business models, and they don’t have asset-heavy balance sheets or cumbersome existing systems weighing them down. ‘Sharing’ is a big story for logistics now – from Uber-style approaches to last-mile delivery, to more formal JVs and partnerships at corporate level, the whole sector is redefining collaboration. But much of this is hampered by inconsistencies in everything like shipment sizes, processes or IT systems. The Physical Internet promises great things for the sector, coming along with increased standardisation in logistics operations.

CMPI – What have you observed with respect to the changing nature of the workforce in the industry?

MK – By far the greatest pressure we face is the shifting workforce from Baby Boomers and Gen X to, Gen Y and Centennials. We see that a lot of the Australian born Gen Y and Centennials struggle to gain a sense of belonging and don’t cope well with the pressures and demands of the environment. The way they tend to stay on in the workforce is through the guidance and mentorship of immigrants of the Baby Boomers and Gen X who tend to work very hard and take great pride in their work.

Employees also tend to leave much faster these days particularly when matters become challenging and they see no way of fixing it. Expectations are much higher with regards to salary, even if the salary is not warranted. I believe this is due to the materialistic world and the need to ‘keep up’ in maintaining certain lifestyles. When we live beyond our means, we tend to spend more than we earn, thus increasing salary demands significantly – particularly from the Gen Y workforce. At TMS we have tackled this by ensuring our bonus and/or reward policy is achievable and in place. Revolving staff tend to stay longer than the norm if the salary package is attractive.

Flexibility in the work environment is also important to ensure staff have the support of management to allow them to address personal needs and requirements. We can’t sell our services and offerings to our customers as flexible if we are not flexible ourselves when it comes to our people.

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