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ANALYSIS | TECHNOLOGY


Photo credit: DNV GL


Most industry executives agree that the specialised nature of the heavy lift and project forwarding sector has made it more difficult to apply new technology than in the wider logistics business. Looking ahead, however, its role can only increase.


A NEW ERA? T


BY DAVID KERSHAW


he Internet of Tings, automation, artificial intelligence, social media, 3D printing and e- commerce; it seems the whole world has changed


dramatically over the last ten years. While the general logistics business has been quick on the uptake of new technology, project logistics has been somewhat of a comparative laggard. At the World Crane & Transport Summit in 2015, Mammoet’s then ceo Jan Kleijn suggested that the technological changes occurring in our world may have a dramatic effect on the crane and specialised transport industry's business if the sector does not work hard to embrace innovation itself. “Te days of relentless economic growth are over,” he


commented, adding that technology and smart thinking are now reshaping the world economy. “Imagine if somebody started an Uber service for cranes and specialised transport - how would that affect us and our customers? We are a conservative industry; we like to own our own equipment; but is this the right attitude for the future?” Kleijn also stated that disruptors like 3D printing could have widespread ramifications for the project logistics sector,


suggesting the technology could be used to build bridges or plant and equipment on site, eliminating the need for the transport and logistics functions altogether. "Are we driving change or does change happen to us?" he asked the summit audience.


Disruptive technology Kleijn’s comments are all the more pertinent today. In 2016, GE started testing its largest jet engine ever built, which incorporated 3D-printed components. Te launch of Uber Freight in 2017, although not designed for the specialised transport industry, indicates that new technologies are becoming increasingly disruptive. We have witnessed a number of technological


advancements designed to assist the project cargo and heavy lift industry enter the market over the past ten years, including the launch of the Ugly Cargo marketplace; the growth of online heavy equipment marketplaces, such as IronPlanet and VeriTread; the development of ShipNext; and increasing use of virtual reality in training programmes. However, summing up the attitude of many in the project forwarding sector, Colin Charnock, group managing director


HLPFI10 | 91


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