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Logistics, caught between economic growth and falling registrations

 Automotive economy


The most classic scenario of ups and downs: third-party logistics will end 2018 with a turnover of 82 billion euro, up by 0.6% over the previous year, despite a decline in new registrations. 

Paolo Castiglia

The most classic scenario of ups and downs: third-party logistics will end 2018 with a turnover of 82 billion euro, up by 0.6% over the previous year, despite a decline in new registrations. Focusing on the logistics sector, the thrilling news is that this is the fifth consecutive year with a plus sign, although the growth rate was the lowest over the same five-year period, which experienced a peak in 2016 with a 1.7% increase. These are some of the most significant data released, last November, by the Contract Logistics Observatory, the result of a research on current trend in the third-party logistics sector, according to which the number of companies and workers in the supply chain keeps going up.

The Observatory of the Milan Polytechnic University has further stated that the elements favouring such a growth are: rising freight traffic, increasing exports and the recovery, albeit rather limited, of the National GDP. Not only the turnover is increasing, the number workers now in the sector has exceeded the 97 thousand threshold, especially among couriers and express couriers (+11.6%) and warehouse managers (+3.4%).

On the business front, between 2017-2018 the Observatory recorded forty mergers and acquisitions and as a result the share of Italian companies now outsourcing their logistics division has reached 40.5%.

Furthermore, the research addresses the qualitative aspects of the sector, highlighting how Logistics 4.0 automation processes are also on the rise. About half of the operators interviewed expect a productivity boost from this evolution, while 37% foresee greater visibility on processes and 27% improved traceability. In addition, hi-tech innovations will favours the birth of start-ups as the 319 internationally financed start-ups created in the last two years, supplying services and warehouse equipment, are there to demonstrate.

Marco Melacini, scientific director of the Contract Logistics Observatory, explains that "logistics service providers are required to do more than just be involved in day to day business activities, they will have to acquire the ability to manage and integrate complex systems. Making the most of the opportunities resulting from this hi-tech evolution will depend on investments made in tools designed to integrate technological solutions based on different IT systems as well as developing specific skills to deal with these new solutions, which translates into on-going training programs besides attracting talents from other business units and sectors".

However, if on the one hand, the outlook seems quite positive on the basis of data from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, on the other, Unrae’s Centre for Studies and Statistics has recently issued a negative estimate on industrial vehicles sales especially those with a GVW of more than 3.5 tons, down by 2.5% in September compared to the same month in 2017, with 1,550 units registered against 1,589.

"Looking at these trends - says Franco Fenoglio, president of Unrae’s industrial vehicles section -, we can only confirm what we have been saying about the measures adopted by the authorities to support the sector in our country: the use of dedicated resources, to ensure the survival of companies rather than helping them to develop and become more competitive, failed to yield any positive results. According to the manufacturers' representative, therefore, only through a complete renewal of the current National fleet, encouraged by dedicated incentives, will bring about the sought after economic, environmental recovery along with safety benefits resulting from the constant product research and development carried out by the manufacturers.

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