If the logistics industry is to meet the needs of a rapidly changing society, it must overcome the prejudices of policy makers and planners at all levels of Government who have traditionally considered residential and logistics properties incompatible neighbours.
The key to this process will be changing the widely held view that jobs in logistics are poorly paid, unskilled and insecure.
That is the view of Peter Ward, chief executive officer the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA).
Speaking at the recent Multimodal conference and exhibition, where he chaired a lively discussion on 'The Warehouse of the Future,' Ward commented: "The rapidly changing nature of our society has already prompted a seismic shift in the way supply chains operate."
He continued: "The UK's population is growing, people are living longer and they're choosing to reside within major cities and towns. As consumers we're doing more of our shopping online and we expect the goods we order from our PC's, tablets, 'phones and other devices to arrive within hours – not days.
"At the moment, the online channel accounts for in the region of 12 per cent of all UK consumer spending. It is forecast to reach 40 per cent in the not too distant future. Forecasting is a difficult business, but if this prediction does prove anywhere near accurate, the impact on the supply chain will be massive.
"The reality is that supply chain efficiency is now as important to many online retailers as the quality and price of the goods they sell and It is transparently clear that if the logistics sector is going to have any chance of meeting the demands of retailer clients in the internet-age the UK needs to start building different kinds of warehouses, distribution sites and fulfillment facilities close to or within our major population centres.
"As an industry we must come together to put the case for 'beds and sheds'.
"Overturning the 'not-in-my-back-yard' mentality will require, among other things, the creation of an awareness and understanding of the central importance of our industry and the companies that operate within it to the smooth running of 'UK plc'. One of the ways we can do this is by stressing the excellent career opportunities that the logistics industry offers."
Future issues affecting logistics in and around the London area are explored in Feeding London 2030 - a study commissioned by UKWA and delivered by Global 78.