Singapore keeps things moving

The logistics and supply chain sector, nurtured by the Economic Development Board, is a key contributor to Singapore’s economy. It offers a rich variety of career prospects, too. Arti Mulchand profiles some of the people working in the sector. 

When it comes to keeping things moving, Singapore consistently ranks among the best. 

In 2012 and again this year, the island state emerged as Asia's top logistics hub, based on the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index.

"Singapore's strategic location in the heart of South-east Asia and at the nexus of major shipping lanes have made it an important logistics hub and conduit for world trade," explains Mr Lee Eng Keat, director of logistics at the Economic Development Board (EDB).

The transportation and storage sector contributed about 7 per cent to gross domestic product last year and provides critical support to the manufacturing sector.

The logistics sector alone employs 192,600 professionals, a sizeable portion of Singapore's workforce.

Beyond the numbers, it is telling that Singapore is home to 20 of the top 25 global logistics players, many of which have their regional or global headquarters here, and are deepening their presence, including DHL and Kuehne + Nagel.

With an eye on Asia's emerging markets, DHL is investing in warehousing facilities, transportation capabilities, information technology and people.

When completed in the second half of next year, its €90 million (S$145 million), 90,000 sq ft integrated warehouse facility in Tampines LogisPark will also house the first DHL innovation centre outside Germany. It will also be its Centre of Excellence for innovative logistics services and solutions in the region, and house DHL's Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regional and Singapore offices.

Meanwhile, Kuehne + Nagel's logistics centre in Singapore, with more than 460,000 sq ft of dedicated warehouse space, is set to be completed by the end of next year.

It is the presence of such leading players, coupled with Singapore's other advantages such as global connectivity, that makes it ideal for leading MNCs such as Unilever and Infineon, says Mr Lee.

For these firms, access to talent who understand the region is vital. To that end, the EDB has been working closely with companies in the sector to draw and build a relevant talent pool, he adds.

The National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design have courses that touch on risk management, supply chain analytics and sustainable supply chains.

A number of graduate programmes have been created by companies such as DHL Supply Chain, German logistics company DB Schenker and consumer goods giant Unilever.

For those within the sector, the Singapore Institute of Materials Management and Singapore Logistics Association offer executive training programmes.

The growing sector is evolving as new ways of doing business, such as e-commerce, prompt the need for even more sophisticated logistics and supply chain designs.

It also makes the sector an exciting one, says DHL supply chain solutions analyst Christopher Lo.

He says: "Increasingly, global companies are forced to review their supply chain networks to provide better value and lower costs.

"That provides greater opportunities for accelerated development for professionals in the field."

This article was first published on Oct 13, 2014

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