Singapore ranks among the world’s hotspots, not least for contract logistics providers. What does DB Schenker offer its customers in the city-state? Norman Mummery, who was responsible for the Contract Logistics business in the APAC region for more than three years and who was recently appointed Head of Contract Logistics Global Operations, gives us his insight.
Mr. Mummery, what role does DB Schenker’s Asia-Pacific (APAC) region play when it comes to the company’s global contract logistics business?
It’s a key region! APAC is now the largest logistics market globally, and our role here is to leverage this growth and opportunity and ensure we grow faster than the market. Emerging manufacturing hubs, increasing domestic consumption and rapidly growing e-commerce are key drivers of APAC’s strong growth.
How can DB Schenker ensure it fulfills this pivotal role and benefits the customers?
Our group has put together a regional innovation team that is actively looking at trends in contract logistics and running a proactive innovation agenda to bring these to life. One of these trends, the aforementioned growth of e-commerce, compels businesses to adjust fulfillment practices to cope with the multichannel path to purchase while managing an economical B2B supply chain. Our principle is to constantly engage with our customers, operations and global innovation counterparts. Ultimately, whatever we do must bring value to our customers and help them improve their speed to market while keeping a firm eye on costs.
Scores of customers have based their APAC headquarters in Singapore. Does that generate a lot of business for the contract logistics experts at DB Schenker?
Yes, absolutely! Its connections to 600 ports as well as 280 airports make Singapore one of the most important transshipment and distribution hubs globally. The state ranks as the most stable in Asia, and it has stood out as a reliable supply chain hub through its strong commitment to global and national security initiatives. The team serves approximately 50 major brands and customers. Historically, our strength has been in supporting our partners in the electronics sector both with OEMs and in consumer electronics. We have been growing our consumer and retail sectors over the past five years and have seen a 100 percent increase in that period. With regard to revenue it is now our fourth largest vertical after electronics, healthcare and automotive. And we, of course, see e-commerce as a vital engine for future growth. DB Schenker has been actively seeking, developing and implementing solutions in automation, robotics and big data to further strengthen our offering in warehouse fulfillment and in e-commerce.
How has the company prepared itself to take on these diverse tasks?
The contract logistics team comprises 6,000 dedicated professionals throughout APAC. In Singapore alone, DB Schenker has 11 facilities, among them a super-modern logistics center at Tampines LogisPark close to the international airport. (Editor’s note: for more info on this logistics center please see below for an explanatory video clip!) Our total warehouse footprint in Singapore is in excess of 200,000 square meters, which equals roughly 10 percent of the APAC total. Not bad for a city-state with a total size of only 700 square kilometers! The warehouses are equipped to provide an array of storage solutions, such as high bay shelving, garments on hanger and cantilever. The operators are well-trained and capable of providing various Value-Added Services, such as quality inspections, to suit customers’ needs.
Could you give us an example of an innovative solution recently put into effect?
In February, an automated food grade assembly line for a multinational food and beverage customer was implemented in one of our Singapore warehouses. The line is for the customer’s raw material ingredients that will eventually feed into their processing plant to produce the finished products. After carton boxes are labeled, packed, weighed and sealed through the assembly line, they are passed to an integrated robotic palletizing arm, which can complete one movement from lifting the cartons, rotating and placing them on top of a pallet within a few seconds. This solution serves as a good example to demonstrate DB Schenker’s innovation and automation capability by integrating the latest technology in contract logistics and striving to provide best-in-class logistics services. Often, our services become an enabler to our customers’ growth.
Apart from the obvious benefits of innovative technology: how does DB Schenker go about achieving that?
Once we’ve established optimal base operations, we seek to partner with customers in strategic development. We focus more on the future rather than on day-to-day business. Joint strategic planning leads to the development of new services, which enable our customers to penetrate new regional markets. The team is currently working on five large-scale new service initiatives for one major customer alone, which will grow the scope of services we can provide for the customer exponentially. This is long-term planning, and we expect to see results in two years’ time.
Photo above: Norman Mummery was Senior Vice President of DB Schenker’s contract logistics teams in the APAC region from February 2014 to July 2017. In Singapore alone, 1,200 employees are deployed on behalf of the customers. Photo: DB Schenker