Speaking of resilience, how is the industry readjusting and what trends are on the agenda?
Prof. Holm The big issues in logistics are digitization and climate change. There are major innovations in the development of trucks or aircraft, for example. Lufthansa, for example, is working on a CO2-neutral aircraft. In the wake of the current pandemic as well as increased uncertainties, the goal must be to increase the resilience or responsiveness of supply chains and to make even greater use of the possibilities of digitalization (cloud and Iot solutions) in this regard.
There is much discussion about the interconnection of road, rail and water. How can we succeed in better connecting these flows?
Prof. Holm Basically, we can talk about three major traffic flows in Germany. First, there is freight transport by truck. It accounts for about three quarters of the total volume. In second place is rail transport with about 17-20 %, followed by sea freight with its container transports and inland waterway transport. The goal of politics is undoubtedly to get more goods onto the railways, and this can only be done in cooperation. To achieve this, digital interfaces are necessary, as is a corresponding infrastructure. For example, loading stations will be built closer and closer to production sites in the future. And then there’s also the Truck2Train alliance, for example, which also wants to make it possible for small and medium-sized companies to connect to rail.
What does that mean for the choice of software?
Prof. Holm The software must guarantee a link to suppliers and customers. Data management is of course easier to implement with cloud-based software. That is clearly the trend. Transparency is important because processes are becoming increasingly complex. At the same time, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to generate this transparency. Also in view of the fact that the level of digitization in logistics SMEs is still low, many systems are outdated.
What does that mean for supply chains?
Prof. Holm Nowadays, in the context of just-in-time deliveries, it is increasingly important to know exactly what is needed when to produce what. Many car manufacturers, for example, no longer have any warehousing at all, and the cycle time is becoming ever tighter. This requires perfect systems that can process real-time data. In addition, there are risks that have to be continuously kept in view: Extreme weather events, cyber risks, an IT infrastructure failure. In order to calculate the probability of occurrence for such risks, corresponding KPIs are of course important,
What other KPIs are particularly important in logistics?
Prof. Holm The demand on logistics KPIs is high because they always have to reflect several dimensions. To answer this question, I would form four upper categories:
KPIs Global supply chains/customer perspective: e.g. customer satisfaction, response time, etc.
KPIs Operations/Processes: e.g. lead times, project turnaround time, etc.
KPIs purchasing: e.g. compliance rate, lead time, return on investment (ROI)
KPIs Finance: e.g. working capital, EBIT margin