Last week Louise Kingston visited Munich’s Transport Logistic Fair, the world’s leading fair for transport, logistics and supply chain management. She shares the key lessons she learned and what it means for the logistics sector in the years ahead.
Transport Logistic is the biggest logistics industry trade fair in the world, and whilst I’ve been to my fair share of exhibitions over the years Transport Logistic blew me away in terms of sheer scale, popularity and buzz. This year it drew in 2,374 exhibitors and 64,000 visitors from 125 countries!
I was there mainly in my capacity as a NXD of Livingbridge investee Carousel, who had taken an exhibitor stand this year. It proved to be a fantastic way to immerse myself in the industry and get a really clear feel for the key trends, issues and opportunities that everyone is thinking about. Logistics services and technology is a top priority sector for Livingbridge to invest further into, so I also had my eyes peeled for interesting companies that might be open to a discussion about investment.
My key takeaways:
- Digitalisation is top of everyone’s agenda
“Industry 4.0” is a seismic shift that the industry has been grappling with for years, but it really seemed ubiquitous at this year’s Transport Logistic. Everywhere I went companies had weaved the relevant buzzwords into their marketing collateral: digitalisation, big data, IOT, AI, machine learning, blockchain, telematics… even previously offline businesses are adapting to the new norm, lest they become marginalised. I saw a lot of really smart companies doing cool things for customers to unlock a lot of value. For example, more businesses now have the tech enabling them to analyse huge amounts of data from multiple sources across the supply chain. By turning this into structured data they are able to create actionable insights and automated efficiency savings for their clients across the supply chain.
- So many TMSs
Wandering through the technology hall I was struck by how many TMS (transport management system) providers were exhibiting, including many I hadn’t heard of before. The rock stars in this space right now are Transporeon who recently received investment from Hg Capital at a valuation of >$800m. Their stand was absolutely buzzing with visitors about three deep waiting to speak to staff – usually unheard of. There should be space for a number of large scale TMSs in global logistics given how huge and segmented the market is, and the successful ones will be those that deliver excellent results against a very targeted customer value proposition. During Livingbridge’s investment, Carousel has scaled up to become the European market leading TMS for aftermarket service parts by focusing ruthlessly on the needs of both their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers and the OEM’s end customers, including field engineers, technicians, dealers and other parts users.
- Germany fully intends to retain its position as a world leader in logistics
I was quite struck by the scale of ambition of Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (the title says a lot…), who gave a passionate presentation setting out his vision for the future of German logistics. The German government is investing heavily to support the development of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, drones, telematics, big data, blockchain etc in order to both maintain their position as world leaders in logistics as well as drive a greener agenda and create more, better jobs. It was an inspiring presentation and sadly a pretty strong contrast to the agenda of the UK’s Transport Secretary, which has been dominated by Brexit and train strikes.
- Smart innovators can disrupt this huge industry
I saw lots of really interesting companies – from start-ups to scale players – using technologies like telematics, machine learning and big data advanced analytics to deliver massive customer value in the form of improved service and/or material cost savings. Carousel’s Chair, FJ Miller, was on the judging panel of the exhibition’s Start.Hub start up competition, which was won by Logmore, a really interesting business that is slashing the cost of temperature monitoring by improving the usability of QR tags. This is just one example of how logistics as an industry has been slow to innovate in some pockets, but it now feels like we are on the cusp of a major revolution.
All in all, it was a really inspiring, educational and fun visit and I’m really looking forward to following up on all the ideas I gathered to enable Livingbridge to invest further into the logistics technology and services industry.
If you operate in this logistics space and would like to speak to someone about how Livingbridge could help, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.