MHD sits down with Joe Couto, CEO at HighJump to talk consolidations, shrinking workforce and opportunities for new players in third-party logistics (3PL) warehousing.
In June 2019, Emergent Cold, one of the largest cold-chain logistics operators, announced that it would be acquiring local cold-chain logistics provider Oxford Cold Storage.
Joe Couto, HighJump CEO for Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin American Operations says that this level of consolidation is not unique to Australia, with significant consolidation taking place at a global level.
This high level of consolidation for the industry presents a number of issues in terms of the varying degrees of solutions and technology in use by 3PL professionals. Migrating to a common platform can be time consuming and expensive but necessary to gain efficiencies, Joe says.
This may also present opportunities for smaller, more niche players to come into the market. This is part of the natural evolution of new entrants into the market as consolidation takes place, Joe says.
Additionally, according to Joe, it is more important than ever to have unification of IT solutions when these mergers take place.
“Companies need a strategy in place to ensure that when these mergers take place their IT and infrastructure can be integrated easily and rapidly” he says.
Highump offers its cloud-based solution so its 3PL customers can scale rapidly as they acquire companies. Joe says HighJump has 3PL customers who are migrating customers/warehouses to the HighJump warehouse management Cloud solution within a period of four to six weeks per warehouse.
HighJump enables its customers on a single deployment to have many warehouses. Each warehouse can have varying degrees of automation to suit the business case of each warehouse operation, whether it’s some automation, voice, robotics or fully automated sites.
Another issue that Joe highlights is the shrinking workforce in logistics. “It’s very difficult to find people who want to work in a warehouse,” he says.
As a result of this organisations are continuing to explore new ways of improving productivity with less people, something that HighJump fully supports.
“E-commerce is demanding more and more people to work in the warehouse, but the demand is far exceeding the supply of people. This is where many organisations are starting to look to more automated solutions – bots, voice and other tech etc. it’s all becoming much more accessible in the warehouse,” Joe says.
Parallel with this trend, there is also a shift to use previous retail spaces as mini warehouses in urban areas, Joe has found. “We’ve seen a trend towards smaller retail stores and transforming some retail stores or part of a store into inner city warehouses to support e-commerce growth,” he says.
Another potential trend Joe says has the ability to shake the market up is a reverse trend. “I think we will start to see some e-commerce companies say we don’t want to be a same day provider. These companies want to appeal to consumers and their values,“ he says.
Customers who want to be aligned with companies who want a better planet are happy to purchase items that will be delivered in three to five days, versus same or next day service. The view here is to take better care of the planet through carbon footprint reduction by offering this kind of shipping.
At HighJump, a main focus is to help organisations optimise their operations. “We know that in logistics and warehousing it is so important to be adaptable and agile, and we work closely with our clients to make sure that they are able to scale up when required,” Joe says.
HighJump is leveraging some of the tools they have to help organisations improve productivity, while recognising that they need to offer smarter more automated solutions due to the shrinking workforce.
The organisation also recently formulated a strategic partnership with Locus Robotics, an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) provider for fulfilment warehouses. HighJump and Locus will work together to facilitate the development of integration tools that will allow for faster, seamless implementations to improve productivity and efficiency for shared retail and third-party logistics customers.
“At HighJump we love making our customers better, and this means leveraging the innovative technologies of tomorrow. AMRs in the warehouse is an area we believe will drive tremendous value. This partnership allows us to deliver cutting edge AMR technology to our customers and work collaboratively with Locus Robotics to conquer supply chain complexity with the warehouse of the future,” John Santagate, Vice President, Robotics at HighJump says.
“In today’s day and age, you need to make some investment in automation (RF and or voice, and or robotics and or conveyors) and technology. Smaller organisations can get the same capability as some of the bigger organisations because solutions are now scalable. Offering an easy entry into automation,” Joe says.
Joe references HighJump customer Adore Beauty, Australia’s largest online beauty retailer, who was able to scale up using their warehouse management system offering as the business grew rapidly, while concurrently reducing their carbon footprint by using less paper to support their warehouse operations.
“With HighJump one of the common ways we help organisations scale up is with size and volume. You can adapt the same solution to adjust to industry trends while also scale up as your business grows, it makes it very easy to grow quickly and keep your customers happy,” Joe says.