Volume 21 | Issue 3 | Year 2018

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This year’s Georgia Logistics Summit gave industry professionals a look into the largest logistics and supply chain exhibition on the continent thanks to its co-location with MODEX 2018. The shared event space provided multiple days of panels and presentations discussing the latest trends impacting the shipping and transportation landscape throughout the Southeast and beyond.

The event also bridged the gap between theoretical conversations and practical demonstrations. As attendees walked out of sessions discussing the latest technology disruptions, they had the opportunity to see those very applications put into action by vendors and exhibitors on the show floor.

Here are the highlights of those conversations and demonstrations for logistics industry professionals who were unable to make it to this year’s summit.

Innovation Within One of the World’s Largest Air lines

Becoming the leader in overall traveler satisfaction takes tremendous logistics and operational execution on a daily basis. In his keynote address, Gareth Joyce, Senior Vice President for Airport Customer Service, and President, Cargo at Delta Air Lines, described the ways the airline continues to innovate internally so that the customer experience remains paramount. Through their innovation center, the Hangar, and other internal programs, Delta is able to keep their more than 2 million annual flights operating as efficiently as possible.

Technology Innovation Across the Supply Chain

Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace in the logistics industry, so it was no surprise to hear many panelists and exhibitors discussing the latest innovations disrupting the supply chain. Breakout sessions like the “Logistics Technology Disruptions” panel explored how cutting-edge systems such as IBM’s Watson and blockchain applications are poised to dramatically transform the efficiency and capabilities of logistics and transportation management.

In addition, experts from Georgia Tech, Augusta University, AT&T and Applied Information, Inc., came together during a “Smart State” breakout session to share how Georgia is expanding the reach of mobile technology and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity from metro areas to the rest of the state. These investments that are turning Georgia into one of the first smart states in the country are already paving the way for logistics innovation as renowned companies such as Waymo begin testing self-driving trucks in Atlanta this year.

The discussions in these sessions around automation and connectivity on the roadway were complemented by physical demonstrations of how these innovations can be applied in other areas of the supply chain, such as warehouse management and materials handling. Several exhibitors showcased how autonomous fork lifters and other forms of robotics can help warehouse workers work safer and smarter.

Workforce Evolution Matches Technology Development

Discussions around the latest technology innovations connected to conversations on the future of the logistics industry’s workforce. This topic took center stage during several panels and breakout sessions that focused on strategies for businesses to attract and retain top talent for every position in the supply chain. Many of these conversations tied back to technology developments by focusing on the need for more talent training to meet future labor needs. As automation becomes more prevalent across the supply chain, businesses should prioritize offering employees the opportunity to learn new skills so they’re best positioned to step into emerging roles such as robotics technicians or IT specialists.

The “Student Showcase” made a return to this year’s summit, offering businesses the opportunity to meet the next generation of logistics industry professionals currently attending Georgia universities. This showcase gave these students the ability to present relevant industry projects to potential employers. Additionally, the Summit Executive Committee placed a focus on transitioning veterans interested in the logistics industry and created an initiative where veterans received discounted event registration so they could attend the Summit and explore potential job opportunities in the industry.

Regional Industry Developments

Alongside these broader industry topics, the Georgia Logistics Summit also zeroed in on several major developments that impacted the industry in Georgia over the past year. Representatives from the Georgia Ports Authority were on hand to elaborate on the Mason Mega Rail project, a new rail expansion at the Port of Savannah. This expansion will enable the port to double its yearly rail capacity when completed, which will ultimately improve the state’s competitive advantage in global trade.

State officials also discussed Georgia’s continuing 10-year commitment to invest $11 billion in highway infrastructure expansion, which includes plans to construct lanes reserved for commercial vehicles along Interstate 75. Upon completion, this will mark the introduction of the first truck-only highway lanes in the country.

Preparing For The Future

The Georgia Logistics Summit was an ideal setting for industry professionals to congregate and get up to speed on the latest technology, workforce and infrastructure developments. More importantly, the event gave businesses the opportunity to network with their peers to learn from each other and form partnerships that will better equip their organizations to overcome their own unique challenges. Maintaining these connections will be essential in the years to come as businesses position themselves to adapt to continuing changes within the industry.

The inevitability of change was hammered home in a presentation delivered by Pete Mento, vice president of global trade and managed services at Crane World Wide. During his discussion on what the future of the logistics industry may hold for Georgia, he predicted that people who are alive today would likely one day see the first humans sent to Mars, while their children would likely be alive to one day see the first children born on Mars.

In other words, there will be incredible advancements in the coming decades, so it should be no surprise when logistics industry professionals see the same level of change over the course of their careers. With an up-to-date understanding of the latest technology and workforce issues, along with the right industry partners, businesses should be well equipped to handle whatever the future holds.

Georgia Logistics Summit Looks to the Industry’s Future, Industry TodayMatt Markham is the director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development that helps companies tap into the state’s world-class logistics infrastructure to improve supply chain efficiency, support growth and increase global competitiveness.  

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