Straight-talking Crown SDS Director, Steve Rushton, talks candidly about his views on the integration of autonomous technology within logistics and how the sector has and will continue to evolve during his career.
The landscape of the logistics sector has changed dramatically, since Rushton joined Express Tyres as a fresh-faced apprentice.
Whilst technology has been prominent throughout his career, the rapid growth of autonomous systems and the digital transformation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices has been significant in recent years.
Now responsible for operations, sales, revenue and profit at Crown SDS, in his role as Director and General Manager, he talks about the opportunities that have shaped his career and how the logistics industry has, and will, continue to evolve amid the rise in autonomous technology and digitalization.
“All this talk about the adoption of driverless transport, delivery drones and flying cars” Rushton starts, “is all valid”.
“But the technology is simply not there yet to make it scalable – and certainly won’t be within my working career”.
He doesn’t deny that there will be a multitude of technologies developed over the next decade, that will add significant value for the sector, but adds “the main role of technology and automation will be as a tool to help businesses to work smarter, better and provide far better data transparency, which will ultimately improver the customer experience.”
“The consumer trend of sameday delivery is coming into the forefront more than ever before – everything is getting faster. Decisions are becoming increasingly focused on speed and availability, over price. Whilst our focus at Crown SDS is about providing an agile service, even whilst operating at peak capacity, investing in technologies that enable us to rely more on automation has meant we’ve been able to increase the scale of our operation quickly, to meet spikes in demand.”
Commenting on the increased pressures of the current climate, Rushton adds “economic risk and inflation have put more demand on businesses to remain agile, in order to react to changes. This is something which has come further into the forefront since the beginning of the pandemic”.
“Businesses can react more quickly by becoming fitter & leaner. A key part of this transition will be through implementing technologies that improve efficiency”
“As a sustained level of inflation continues to drive up costs, it will also bring with it opportunities for individuals. As we remove wasteful practices from the supply chain, it paves the way to add value and offer fair reward for those individuals that bring value, by way of improving salaries or rates of pay for drivers – all of which are currently buckling under the current levels of inflation”
Asked if he has any advice for those just starting a career in the industry, Rushton responds: “With the dramatic rise in reliance upon technology of recent years, it can be easy to leave technology to do the work”.
“I would urge anyone – get out from the behind the desk and see for yourself what is going on”.
“Logistics touches everything and can cover a multitude of sins, but when things go wrong they can lead to chaos – it’s important to get up and go and see the problem or challenge first hand”.
“Genchi Genbutsu – go and see for yourself. It’s a philosophy I learned from the leaders that have shaped my career and is something that has stayed with me throughout”.