The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge: Supporting Inclusion in the Industry

Team managing warehouse logistics in an on-site office

According to the research firm Gartner, women make up 55% of the workforce—and yet, they hold only 37% of jobs in the supply chain industry. The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), an organization of logistics professionals based in the UK, is working to improve those nu mbers with their event, the Big Logistics Diversity Challenge.

This event will take place for the second time in June 2020 at Newark Showgrounds in Newark, UK. CILT designed the event to promote gender and background diversity in the logistics industry, encouraging teams of all kinds of people to compete in friendly logistics-themed challenges that test their ability to cooperate to solve problems. The Big Logistics Diversity Challenge will also feature speeches by industry leaders and opportunities for networking.

Inclusion on a Large and Small Scale

Logistics is all about managing the transportation of goods, information, technology, or raw materials from one place to another. The industry depends on millions of people in different countries, with different skills, doing their part to make sure an item arrives at its destination safely. Efficient shipping requires cooperation between all kinds of diverse entities—it only makes sense for that global spirit of unity to apply at the smaller company-wide level too.

Why Diversity Matters

Every individual deserves the chance to pursue their interests and use their knowledge and skills to lead productive, fulfilling lives. There are many women and people in other marginalized groups that could be very successful in logistics if they only had the opportunity—to deny them is a disservice to humanity as a whole.

Being inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also advantageous economically. Studies have shown that improving diversity in the workforce increases innovation and productivity. Bringing different individuals with numerous viewpoints together increases the chances for new ideas to develop and drive positive change within an industry. More diverse businesses are also better able to attract and keep talent.

Encouraging more minority groups and women to engage in logistics careers can only improve the global supply chain. We look forward to following along with CILT as they make progress toward this goal in the next Big Logistics Diversity Challenge.

The Intelligent Transportation System Market

Global transportation concept between hands of a woman in background

Technology is impacting every area of our lives. However, certain facts of life remain frustratingly difficult to solve. Traffic jams are a good example. Even with all of the technology embedded in our vehicles, real-time speed sensors on our roadways, and the location-aware smartphones we have with us at all times, many of us still struggle with traffic every day.

Unfortunately, the situation only seems to get worse. Wouldn’t it be great if technology could rescue us from traffic? Traffic engineers over all the world are working on intelligent transportation systems that promise to reduce traffic.

Today, intelligent transportation systems are big business. If current transportation market trends continue, the global market for these systems is projected to grow beyond $80 billion by 2027, changing the future of domestic freight forwarding in the process.

The Case for Intelligent Transportation Systems

The term Intelligent Transportation System may refer to any hardware or software that helps drivers and driverless vehicles use the roadways more efficiently. The goal is to make our roads safer, smarter, and more systematic.

Why is there so much focus on intelligent transportation systems? The Economist estimates that traffic jams cost every driver in the U.S. nearly $1000 in lost productivity every year. Furthermore, over 3000 people worldwide die in traffic accidents every day. Engineers hope that intelligent transportation systems and other future freight forwarding technologies can reduce this number.

Intelligent Transportation System Examples

There are many examples of intelligent transportation systems. Here are three promising technologies in use now and on the horizon:

  1. Adaptive Traffic Management
    In this technique, engineers alter traffic signals, metering lights, and speed limits in real time based on current conditions. The idea is to route cars away from the most congested areas. Many smartphone apps are intended to accomplish the task on the single vehicle scale. Engineers hope to implement these technologies for the entire transportation network.
  2. Predictive Traffic Modeling
    Reacting to traffic is useful, but predicting traffic jams and ideally stopping them before they start is much more useful. This may sound like a drain, but it is the ultimate goal of predictive traffic modeling. These software programs combine real-time data from road sensors and smartphones with weather forecast and historic information on traffic patterns. These different sources combined with adaptive traffic management aim to dramatically improve traffic.
  3. Connected Vehicles
    Adaptive traffic management systems can really pay off in congested urban areas—however, deploying these systems nationwide isn’t yet economically viable. In the meantime, connected vehicles can use short-range radio to share information to coordinate cars, trucks, and other vehicles and improve traffic.

For as long as there have been automobiles, traffic has been an issue. Could intelligent transportation systems be the solution? According to the investors and those who study freight forwarding trends, the answer may be yes.

The Impact of Automated Trucking on the Workforce

Interior of a self-driving truck on the highway

As automated self-driving vehicle technologies continue to evolve, many wonder what the future of trucking looks like for the 1.9 million heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers employed in the United States—the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has an answer.

According to a recent report issued by the GAO, two factors will determine the role of truck drivers and operators in a post-automation world: the level at which technology progresses and government regulatory decisions. These elements are expected to develop slowly over the next 5 to 10 years, leaving time for both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Labor (DOL) to continue working together alongside key stakeholders to prepare for changes within the trucking industry.

The Role of Truck Drivers and Operators in an Automated World

Cindy Brown Barnes, a director in the GAO’s Education Workforce and Income Security team, predicts that technological and federal advancements within the trucking industry will lead to one of two possible scenarios for truck driver jobs in the U.S.

Fewer Long-Haul Drivers

In this scenario, local drivers transport goods from factories to designated drop-off areas, where an automated truck picks up the loaded trailer and drives the rest of the route. The trucking industry is experimenting with technology that makes long-haul automated driving possible: GPS, cameras, accelerometers and gyroscopes, radar, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors, and platooning.

As tech companies push for more advanced automated trucking technologies (in spite of a growing distrust for self-driving cars among the American public), long-haul truckers may become a rarity.

More Skilled Truck Drivers

In the second scenario, truckers are still needed to perform tasks technology can’t: navigating urban environments, fueling the truck, changing tires, or loading and unloading the truck. Partial automation technology will be used as a tool for truck drivers rather than a replacement—trucking will be less stressful and physically demanding, decreasing turnover rates and encouraging more young workers and women to enter the workforce. Partial automated technologies could also produce more specialized driving roles that require technical know-how and engineering skills, creating more opportunity for drivers to continue their educations.

As outlined in the GAO report, workers both inside and outside the trucking industry aren’t currently feeling the impact of automation. It’s the responsibility of the DOT and DOL, the report argues, to use the next decade to prepare for potential mass layoffs and develop educational programs for training a new workforce of specialized truck drivers.

According to the government watchdog, full automation isn’t an immediate concern, but preparing for a future in which driverless trucks are the norm requires anticipating big economic changes now.