Interviews / Stories

“We need innovations to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Martin Schwemmer
Martin Schwemmer

Dr. Schwemmer, the logistics industry is currently experiencing difficult times. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges and how can they be met most effectively?

In fact, logistics is undergoing profound change processes worldwide that are shaped by three megatrends: first – demographic change, second – the increasing digitization and automation of processes and production workflows and third – sustainability. These are accompanied by the need to become more resilient along global supply chains. At first glance, these are different categories, but they have one unifying element: Innovation by technology. This is the neuralgic point to start with. Then, there is a good chance to meet these requirements effectively.

The logistics industry is extremely innovative anyway. Where does the ability to develop and successfully implement new solutions come from?

Ultimately, innovations are the most effective means of countering crises and challenges such as those described above. Only in this way it has been possible to develop our industry to where it is today. In Europe alone, the SCM and logistics sector has a volume of 1.32 trillion euros, around 319 billion are originating from Germany. But logistics has not only experienced exceptionally and dynamic growth in terms of volume. The industry is currently transforming from logistics and supply chain management into value chain management.

But despite these developments, global value chains have certainly been vulnerable to external influences in recent years, haven’t they?

In fact, supply chains have come under enormous pressure in recent years, and this will just continue. Just think about external influences such as the Corona pandemic, military conflicts, accidents, and geopolitical changes. Clearly, we have misjudged or overestimated the resilience of our supply chains. This forces us to rethink in the industry. According to a recent BVL survey, around 67 percent of respondents consider strengthening the resilience of their company to be very important. In addition, the topics of digitization (approx. 78 percent) and sustainability (approx. 60 percent) are of high importance.

Keyword sustainability: Where are the trends heading with this topic?

Hardly any other industry is faced with such a strong need for transformation towards sustainable solutions. There are many startups entering the market with great ideas and concepts. Next to sustainability, these new business ideas are dealing with data infrastructure, data management, network design and technology overall. Two trends stand out in particular: first – many of these new developments involve of course software, data exchange and management solutions, and second – many of the concepts are based in the B2B segment.

With the vision of “green” logistics in mind, where do we stand today on the issue of sustainability?

I think we are on a good path here. After all, the startups I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, there are more than 70,000 logistics companies in Germany alone with their partners and service providers, who are also working very actively on the development and future of the industry. In view of this enormous potential, I am certain that we will succeed in mastering the challenges and making global value chains not only more sustainable, but also more digital and resilient.