State of the art logistics

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In Germany, the BVL survey provides a rich source of information on the logistics management of companies. In other European markets however, getting hold of this information is more challenging due to the lack of national surveys.

But in 2004, St. Gallen’s Kuehne-Institute for Logistics conducted such a survey in cooperation with the Swiss Logistics Association (SGL). The idea was to gain more information on the characteristics of the Swiss logistics market and relate this to the results of previous BVL surveys in Germany.

The results underline the increasing strategic relevance of logistics management. Over 70 per cent of the logistics managers in Switzerland report that a board member of their company represents the interests of the logistics department.

But to strengthen the strategic positioning of logistics management, collaboration with other business units must be intensified. While managers describe internal collaboration with production and purchasing units as good or very good, collaboration with marketing and R&D is often described as unsatisfactory.

Even in industries with sector-specific initiatives such as ECR, the internal collaboration between logistics and marketing – as well as logistics and R&D – shows room for improvement.

The trend toward outsourcing of logistics-related activities appears to be going strong. Businesses in Switzerland have already outsourced 30 per cent of their logistics-related activities to third party providers. And the Swiss managers expect to outsource further activities to logistics service providers – particularly to information service providers – in the next three years.

Further outsourcing decisions however, will require an improved understanding of present cost structures. A lack of logistics costs information could well present a barrier to a further outsourcing of logistics processes as 20 per cent of companies in the consumer goods industry and almost 60 per cent in the industrial sector calculate their logistics costs less than once a month.

The education of logistics managers is likely to be key to the development of more detailed logistics cost structures. Similarly, the intensification of logistics’ collaboration with marketing and R&D demands an increasingly broad education for logistics managers. Thanks to an excellent offer of continuing education including an Executive MBA programme for most senior logistics managers, the Swiss market is well prepared to address this challenge.

Download the survey from the SGL website: www.sgl.ch

By Prof. Dr. Daniel Corsten, vice-director of St. Gallen’s Kuehne Institute for Logistics and co-director of the Executive MBA Program in Logistics at the University of St. Gallen, and Jens Hamprecht, research associate at the Kuehne-Institute for Logistics at the University of St. Gallen.

More information on the Kuehne-Institute for Logistics at eh University of St. Gallen: www.klog.unisg.ch and www.emba-logistik.unisg.ch

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