I celebrated my 30th birthday this month. It may sound frightening at first, but despite my fears, the aches and pains, wrinkles and grey hairs didn’t happen overnight. From my experience, change is a constant but gradual process, and with old age comes new wisdom. In retrospect, this may also be applied to logistics. The comparison seems unreasonable at first, but the few insights I´ve gained within these 30 years can also be used for planning complex logistical processes.
Let’s start with the worst reality: the body deteriorates slowly – back pain, grey hair, wrinkles. Voluntary exercise is not my favorite hobby but now is the time to take care of my body, as I can no longer afford to neglect it. As the saying goes: A rolling stone gathers no moss. As you get older it’s important to keep moving and stay active. What you do now will help you overcome the next hurdle, which for me will be my forties.
Logistics managers are all too familiar with this concept. No, I’m not referring to finding grey hairs, but rather being flexible and staying dynamic. Unexpected disruptions such as lost material or delayed deliveries are on the daily agenda in logistics planning. The phrase ‘nothing ever goes to plan’ comes to mind, as logistics managers constantly have to reschedule. Flexible and dynamic planning is therefore one of the main factors in ensuring a smooth logistics and production process.
Always think ahead
While in our twenties, we often live for the moment. Over the course of time you learn that foresight certainly has its advantages. Sure, spontaneity is adventurous, but what age shows is that it’s nice to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
In logistics, as previously mentioned, unexpected problems are inevitable. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that, thanks to a dynamic approach, you have the flexibility to adapt your plans. The basic requirement is transparency, which provides an overview of the various processes and upcoming events at all times. For example, transparency in inbound logistics enables rapid rescheduling in the event of unscheduled truck arrival times or deviations in loading point capacities.
Be open – change is a good thing
Learning something new takes time and effort – but there is so much to learn. Over the last 30 years I have noticed that people are often reluctant to make changes because some of them involve challenges. Whether changing jobs, moving into a new apartment, or simply trying a new hobby – the effects in the long-run are usually positive and the challenges are worth overcoming.
In logistics, too, the aim should not be to do everything as it has always been done. Just because something has always been the same does not mean that it is efficient or right. Especially in times of digitization (see next point) the implementation of new technologies and applications in logistics processes are key to keeping up with the competition. The processes here are typically very complex and unclear. Manual planning is therefore usually almost unachievable. Be open to change and make your daily work easier.
Digitize or get left behind
Yes, I know. I’m only 30, and of course digital media played an important part in my life early on. In theory, because I belong to Generation Y ( the first social media generation) I should be completely crazy about sharing my life on social media. But compared to Generation Z, I am a digital dinosaur; considering that at the age of 30 I still belong to a generation that was not always available or online in their youth. Over the course of my life this has very much changed, now that social media and the internet have become an everyday part of our lives. Digitization has changed the extent to which people network with each other and will continue to be a driving influence.
It also makes its contribution to logistics, both the internal and external processes. Different systems from different providers can now be interconnected through the process of digitization, which has great potential in the field of logistics. Processes in different logistics areas can be linked and coordinated accordingly. As a consequence, communication between different logistics parties is simplified and accelerated. In my opinion, digital platforms are the future of logistics planning. Based on the collected data and increasing cooperation, processes can be improved across locations and along the entire supply chain.
30 isn’t so bad. The 30th birthday is an important milestone for many adults, and this event deserves a thoughtful blog post. Getting older cannot be stopped or prevented. You can only make the best of it, and for me that means to always reflect, improve, and if necessary take a new course. Moreover, in logistics, you should continuously optimize processes. In short, it’s nice to have a plan, but you have to be flexible if things don’t go as planned. I am curious as to whether these insights will have changed again by the time I´m 40.
Header photo: Alejo Miranda/shutterstock.com