On May 16 to 17, 2017, the cavernous halls of the Georgia World Congress Center were buzzing at Atlanta’s ninth annual Georgia Logistics Summit. Nearly 1,200 logistics industry thought leaders, entrepreneurs, shippers and receivers, and transportation experts filled the meeting rooms to learn about the latest, most cutting-edge developments in the industry.
In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of technology, staying on top of the latest logistics trends is more important now than ever, so a major focus of the 2017 Georgia Logistics Summit was the wave of digitization that is taking place in supply chains across the world.
For perspective, data is now collected on the whereabouts of cargo at every point in the supply chain and reported in real-time to the next handler or hauler of the cargo. This invaluable information – available because of new technologies – is ultimately used to analyze problem areas and capture opportunities that can improve overall operations of the transport and warehousing of inventory. The resulting visibility of precious cargo gives companies new insights on where its products are and how quickly those products are moving to their customers at any time.
Why does all this matter? Because, the faster that products arrive to their customers on-time and undamaged, the faster the invoice can be paid! This quick and efficient delivery pumps resources back into the business more rapidly, and then the regional and local economy can support continued productivity, which equals growth and more jobs.
No time was wasted in emphasizing important technologies at this year’s Summit as one of the most popular 2016 sessions was placed near the top of this year’s agenda: The Logistics Technology Disruptors panel. A prestigious group of experts from major companies, including UPS, Geodis, and Georgia Tech, shared their visions and unique perspectives on technologies that are profoundly changing the way the industry does business today and will continue to transform our businesses in the foreseeable future. Alex Rhodeen, director of disruptive solutions at Geodis, reminded the audience that disruption is constant, technology monetizes assets and benefits can be holistic.
Adding to the lineup of speakers at the Georgia Logistics Summit, C-level executives from companies such as Walmart shared their expertise in the “Tech for Transportation” roundtable discussion. These innovative entrepreneurs discussed transportation technologies that have helped improve supply chains across the world, which included an update from Freightliner’s Steven Schnaare on its Level 3 autonomous – or (almost) self-driving – trucks.
Perhaps one of the most notable moments from the Summit every year is Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s annual remarks on business in Georgia and why the logistics industry is so important to the future of the Peach State. Among Governor Deal’s primary talking points this year was Georgia’s fourth back-to-back ranking as the number one state in which to do business, in large part because of how logistics infrastructure and services are vital to economic activity.
Governor Deal highlighted that Georgia’s stellar transportation network contributed to private companies announcing more than $4 billion in new projects since July 2016, which will generate more than 18,000 jobs. The governor also referenced the incredible six-week turnaround of the I-85 reopening after its devastating collapse in Atlanta, as well as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which is now nearly halfway complete. All of these projects and accomplishments are thanks to the hard work of highly-responsive government agencies and the much-appreciated collaboration with Georgia businesses – an invaluable framework that is required for a successful economy.
Speaking of Savannah, the Georgia Ports Authority presented a captivating video of the largest vessel ever to serve the US East Coast – the COSCO Development – as it called on the Port of Savannah in early May 2017. During the COSCO Development’s visit, Savannah handled more than 50 percent of the ship’s cargo in its maiden voyage to the East Coast at 220 container moves per hour – an incredible accomplishment.
All in all, it’s an exciting time to work in the transportation and logistics industry, and an even more exciting time to be supporting Georgia’s businesses. Thanks to the leaders of our state government who are improving our infrastructure, to our logistics industry that remains laser-focused on customer satisfaction, and to the innovators of technology who are ensuring we continue advances in supply chain efficiency. More than ever, it’s especially exhilarating for all those invested in the economic future of the state of Georgia.
Another year of the Georgia Logistics Summit has concluded, and we look forward to seeing those leaders and technologies in action over the next 12 months, moving our industry forward into a future full of innovation and opportunity.
See you at the next Georgia Logistics Summit, in April 2018 at the Georgia World Congress Center. It is sure the be the biggest one yet!
Jannine Miller is the Director of the Center of Innovation for Logistics, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.