Logistic firms urged to adapt to tech trends

Marketing executive Kenneth Kok showing the use of a robotic trolley that can follow staff around yesterday at DHL Asia Pacific Innovation Centre, where the Connected Logistics Innovation Platform was launched.
Marketing executive Kenneth Kok showing the use of a robotic trolley that can follow staff around yesterday at DHL Asia Pacific Innovation Centre, where the Connected Logistics Innovation Platform was launched.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE KIAT

Logistics businesses will need to be agile and adapt to new technology, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon yesterday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a platform to promote innovation in the industry.

The Connected Logistics Innovation Platform was created by international service provider DHL Express with the support of the Economic Development Board (EDB).

Over the next three years, the initiative will help to develop pilot projects that accelerate digitalisation. It will tap Singapore academia, researchers and local talent to assist with these innovation projects.

The platform will focus on areas such as secure digital services for customers, smart facilities with digital interaction with people and assets, and advanced analytics. Technologies that could be harnessed include the Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain and automation.

Dr Koh said: "With new business and technology trends increasing in things like 3D printing and robotics, logistics businesses will definitely need to be more agile and adapt to these kinds of new trends.

"This collaboration (between DHL and EDB) will allow new pilot projects that will create innovation in areas relating to customer-centric solutions and bring in other new ideas... so that the logistics flow will be much more smooth and efficient."

One pilot project already under way is the Advanced Quality Control Centre, which helps staff monitor shipments to ensure that they are delivered accurately and on time.

Dr Koh said: "We hope that such innovative platforms will continue to anchor Singapore as a technology and innovation hub in this part of the world and share some of this technology beyond Singapore.

"Importantly, by being more competitive, it helps Singapore to anchor itself as a key node in the global logistics chain."

Dr Koh added that although the industry's bigger players might be aware of the need to change and digitalise, it is important for everyone to work with various players in the ecosystem, including start-ups, to come up with solutions.

"Logistics is all about connectivity - all the solutions... must have a way of cross-connecting and talking to each other to allow this ecosystem to mature," he said.

Ms Supriya Rao Patwardhan, chief information officer of global programmes and standards at DHL Express, said: "Singapore has an innovative environment and an excellent ecosystem of technology and service providers, making it a great place to pilot high-tech initiatives."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Logistic firms urged to adapt to tech trends'. Print Edition | Subscribe