Event report Meet the industry – The logistics sector 29 May 2012, at ING Gerard Mercator Auditorium in AntwerpOn May 29th Vlerick MFM Alumni organised for the third time a Meet the industry event. Theconcept of this series of events allows professionals to benefit from industry insights offered byanalysts and industry experts. This edition covered the Logistics Sector. Around 70 participants werewelcomed in the exquisite setting of the ING Gerard Mercator Auditorium in Antwerp.First, Professor Robert Boute, Associate Professor Operations Management atVlerick Leuven Gent Management School elaborated on the attractiveness of Flanders as a LogisticRegion and explained that sustainable logistics in Flanders should be more than simply “movingboxes” based on 5 stories: how Barry Callebaut brought production and distribution close together,how Volvo Logistics also handles logistics for other companies, how SKF Logistics Servicesstreamlined storage and distribution for Metso Minerals, how Katoen Natie went for zero-tolerancepolicy against errors to enable e-logistics services and how UCB, Baxter, H.Essers and Tri-Vizor joinedforces to organise the logistics more advantageously with lower costs, higher critical mass, higherdelivery frequency, and a smaller impact on the environment.Second, Didier Keters, senior relationship manager at ING for corporate clients shared hisobservations as a banker on 3PL industry trends. A first trend is globalization, where logisticcompanies follow their clients and cross-sell services like freight management or contract logistics.They also try to replicate operational standards and transfer best practices globally. A second trendis supply chain integration, where there is a consolidation with 3PLs, freight forwarders andtransporters moving on the chain and taking on more and more operations. Producers are alsoincluding logistics in the strategic planning stages with an equal seat at the table with productionand sales. As a result logistics can help to solve the friction between manufacturing (yield on assets)and sales (volume). Logistics companies aim to work around sectors enabling them to get industryexpertise and know their customer in order to create added value securing long term relationships.Another trend is the ever growing importance of technology, with new ‘internet’ customers lookingfor transparency, speed, reliability,… on one hand and IT on the other hand as a differentiator tosupport client driven solutions. Sustainability gets more and more attention with global tradeimpacting global warming, clients looking to decrease ecological footprint and companies investingin green energy for own use and to increase profitability of real estate. On the Real Estate side,location is still very important where the axis Brussels-Antwerp is a prime-location due to its centrallocation in Western Europe. Other important aspects for real estate are multi-modal access to thereal estate, free height to compensate the high price per m², storage/office space ratio of 95/5,increased number of quays to increase speed and low energy consumption. On the financing side,there is a trend to rent real estate or to hold real estate combined with long term funding. Thisfunding can be portfolio based solutions (bank debt, debt capital markets solutions or equity capitalmarkets) or asset based with lease financing.
Finally, Dirk Lannoo, Vice-President at Katoen Natie shared their strategy to all these trends.Katoen Natie’s mission is to offer flexible, high-quality logistics solutions and continuousimprovement as a competitive advantage for each client. Katoen Natie’s core business iswarehousing and value added logistics through investing in large-scale multi-customer platformswith a strong focus on state-of-the-art engineering and IT. In order to offer clients fast decisionmaking and sufficient commitment/dedication Katoen Natie chose for decentralisation anddelegation with a no-nonsense mentality and a can-do attitude. It therefore operates in severalbusiness units, offering specific sector knowledge like petrochemicals, customer goods, food & feed,specialty chemicals, industry & automotive, etc. Katoen Natie has a worldwide presence, but insteadof trying to be everywhere, Katoen Natie prefers to be in locations where they can make thedifference and be the local hero.The topics discussed were ground for interesting and challenging questions by the audience whichcontinued during the excellent reception offered by ING."By Isabelle Decroos (MCCF 2011)