Logistics industry faces 4 disruptors, trade group offers prep process

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 716 views 

The logistics industry faces four areas of disruption: changing customer expectations, new technology, new market entrants and new business models, said Bob Collins, senior director of professional development for APICS.

APICS, an organization offering research, professional development and certifications in supply chain management, recently hosted a webinar on the future of the logistics industry and the benefits of the Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designation.

Consumers expect to receive goods faster and at low or no delivery costs, said Collins, adding that Amazon has contributed to rising customer expectations. New technology, such as data analytics, automation and the internet, is expected to lower costs, improve efficiencies and allow for industry breakthroughs. Meanwhile, competition has increased as customers of logistics companies have established their own logistics operations, and logistics startups focus on the more lucrative segments of the industry using digital technology or sharing business models.

“Sharing is the big story for logistics right now,” Collins said. “From Uber-style approaches to last-mile delivery to partnership at the corporate level, the whole sector is redefining collaboration.”

Technology is expected to drive change in the logistics industry, and Collins and Gabriela Welch, director of certification for APICS, discussed four scenarios of how that change could play out in the industry.

In the scenario of sharing the internet, companies will look to partner with other businesses to cover less profitable delivery routes, increasing efficiency and reducing costs, Welch said. Companies will decide how much of these benefits will be passed on to customers.

The second scenario regards technology innovation and changing customer behavior, Collins said. Logistics startups take market share from existing logistics companies and use technology such as blockchain. One or two of these startups will become dominate in segments of the industry as last-mile delivery breaks apart and crowd-sourced delivery increases.

Another scenario involves complex competition. This includes the retail industry building their own logistics operations and purchasing small logistics companies to improve the operations while technology companies establish logistics services, becoming competitors, Welch said.

The fourth scenario involves existing logistics companies that use new technology and invest into it while they attract staff to develop a strong position in the market, Collins said. The money used for investments becomes more important.

Collins said the CLTD certification will help companies meet rising customer expectations, remain profitable and generate growth. The certification provides for shared standards in the logistics, transportation and distribution industries, Welch said. It ensures professionals are on the same page, reduces the logistics skills gap and increases one’s value to employers.

Welch explained the employers, industries and job positions that can benefit from a certification, including, third-party logistics providers, retailers, energy companies, intermodal, trucking, fleet managers, distribution mangers and logistics managers.

One with the certification, which is validated by APICS, has mastered a body of work, improves their career and earnings potential and receives access to a network of logistics professionals, Collins said. The organization provides a link for those who receive the certification that can be put on one’s LinkedIn page, Welch said. This has led to people who aren’t looking for another job to receive job offers.

The CLTD certification focuses on the deliver and return part of a company and includes third-party logistics providers, manufacturing and transportation. Since the program was established in 2016, more than 1,100 professionals worldwide have received the CLTD certification, Collins said.

To receive the certification, one must pass an exam, which has a pass rate of 70%. After receiving the certification, a recipient must maintain their certification through classes or webinars offering credits toward its maintenance. Before taking the exam, one must complete a form to determine if they are eligible. Eligibility requirements include three years of supply chain related experience, a bachelor’s degree or having earned another APICS certification, such as the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) or Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP). Welch suggested to fill out the eligibility form first as it’s free, takes less than five minutes and doesn’t expire.

Materials to prepare for the exam include eight modules that comprise of four text books, which are available in digital format. Along with the nearly 1,000 pages of books, are flash cards, quizzes and practice exams. Classes and study groups are available. Also, an exam content manual, which includes the reading materials used to create exam, and a dictionary app, with more than 4,800 terms, are available.

Successful candidates usually spend about six to nine months preparing for the exam, said Collins, adding that classes are beneficial as they add structure for those studying. Collins encouraged those who will take it to not only take the classes, but also complete the learning materials, quizzes and practice test. The organization has had a good exam pass rate for those who take the exam within three months of completing the learning materials, Welch said. The exam takes more than three hours to complete and is 150 questions. Twenty questions are pre-test and 130 are scored.

Exam costs range between $475 and $625 depending on a candidate’s APICS membership level. Materials to prepare for the exam range between $895 and $1,245.

The bundled cost for the exam, materials and a second chance to pass the exam range between $1,200 and $1,420. For those who purchase the bundle, candidates have six months to authorize that they will take the exam. Once they do, they have another six months to take the exam. However, the second chance exam is available for those who take the initial exam within 90 days of authorizing that they will take the exam.

APICS offers its members at least 31 webinars, which each allow for one point toward certification maintenance. Over a five-year period, those who are members and watch the 31 webinars would be more than 75% complete with the maintenance requirements, said Welch, adding that “it really is beneficial to be a Plus member.” A Plus membership is $220 a year.

APCIS recently released a 40-page salary survey and calculator for members showing salaries for positions in the logistics industry.

“People that have an APICS certification compared to similar candidates who do not, tend to make quite a bit more in the marketplace,” Collins said. “And that’s not just because they have a certification, it’s because they can bring a new set of skills to their employer and make themselves more valuable to the company they are working for.”