Panasonic acquires DHL Software Solutions business
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Panasonic System Communications Company Europe (PSCEU) has announced the acquisition of DHL Digital Solutions, a team within DHL Specialist Services UK, part of the world's leading postal and logistics group, Deutsche Post DHL.
The new company born from this acquisition, Panasonic Business Software Solutions Europe, offers advanced software for the control and management of logistics and supply chain.
A total of 13 members of the UK based DHL Digital Solutions will join the new Panasonic organisation and will integrate the logistics software, with Panasonic hardware, to provide deep expertise in system solutions integration to clients across Europe.
The acquisition includes a total of six software solutions packages, currently being utilised by DHL in the UK.
One example is ASC, a stock consumption tool, designed to systematically collect and analyse data on food and bar consumption, which adds value to an airline operation. This predicts the likely requirement on any given flight, reducing stock levels, the weight of the aircraft, fuel burn and carbon emissions.
Other solutions acquired include:
· Premis – A labour management tool built and implemented to capture data from warehouse management and time and attendance systems.
· MediaTrak - a web based asset tracking solution, designed to accurately record the movement and location of media types across a multi-site operation.
· Pulse – The DHL Pulse survey kiosk is a real-time pulse check, for customer or employee opinions on specific topics.
· Styleflow – A smart consolidation tool for managing and combining deliveries in to controlled and restricted areas, such as airports.
· HomeSmart – Smart order fulfilment software that helps forward planning of consolidated home deliveries to take account of factory lead times.
PSCEU Managing Director Masaki Arizono said: “The establishment of Panasonic Business Software Solutions Europe is an important step towards our strategy of offering business customers a one-stop-shop for the design, roll out and operation of their business solutions.
“When combined with our direct account approach and project management capabilities, our enterprise customers can roll out solutions faster and with less risk. We think this is unique in the industry.”
PSCEU is the European branch of Panasonic Systems Communications Company, the global B2B division of Panasonic. With around 400 staff, PSCEU is made up of five product categories: Communication Solutions, Computer Product Solutions, Professional Camera Solutions, Security Solutions and Visual System Solutions.
Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and engineering of electronic technologies and solutions for customers in residential, non-residential, mobility and personal applications. Since its founding in 1918, the company has expanded globally and now operates around 500 consolidated companies worldwide, recording consolidated net sales of €57.74 billion for the year ending March 31, 2014.
For more information about Panasonic, please visit: http://panasonic.net
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks.
A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so.
What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.
"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"
That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.
But where has this skills shortage stemmed from?
Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.
COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.
It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing.
So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done?
Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change.
Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.
Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line.
On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains.
Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months.
Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector