The logistics industry often goes under the radar – because it’s largely business-to-business, because it’s often unrecognised by the end users and because, to do its work well, a logistics provider will usually be unnoticeable – as one business leader put it “You only notice your 3PL when something goes wrong, and that’s how it should be.”
Are logistics awards significant and if so – why?
In the UK The Logistics Awards are a big deal. For five years, in association with the SHD Logistics magazine, the awards have highlighted major achievements across a diverse industry and have been a key feature for retailers and manufacturers as well as the actual logistics operators themselves.
They are one of a number of supply chain awards (a recent survey found 18 in the UK alone, while a 2016 list contains 41 supply chain awards internationally) that focus on specific aspects of the supply chain, logistics and haulage industries. These awards are vitally important because:
- They recognise areas of business excellence and allow other players to ‘improve their game’ so the standards across the industry are raised.
- Awards reward risk-taking and innovation, encouraging logistics organisations to accept challenges and come up with novel solutions.
- Many awards deliver a powerful message that doesn’t just recognise excellence, it brings issues to industry attention and sometimes wider. As an example, when Marlon Brando sent an Apache woman to pick up his 1973 Academy Award, it opened a debate about the depiction of Native Americans in film that had a profound effect. Simply by offering a Sustainability Award (as the Logistics Awards do) they push this issue up the agenda for the industry as a whole. We may not have a Marlon Brando, but the logistics sector is currently facing a range of issues that awards can usefully highlight.
- Entering an award process can push a business to another level – just the process of meeting the application criteria can encourage an organisation to recognise its strengths and weaknesses and improve its business planning.
- Showcasing excellence during an awards evening gives industry leaders a chance to network and synergise their achievements, building relationships and spotting opportunities to learn from one another.
- Having an award is a game changer for many businesses – especially small ones. It doesn’t just give them something to put on adverts and mention when pitching for business, it rewards their partners and suppliers and gives them a level of gravitas that can deliver all kinds of goodies, from better business finance through to recruiting the best talent.
What does the Logistics Awards process consist of?
One of the great things about the Logistics Awards is that they are open to pure logistics operations and to companies that have logistics as an integral part of their business operations. This means that 3PLs and retailers with a logistics department are both equally welcome to enter. There is also a wide range within the awards, so that everyone, from a small haulier to an international freight transporter, from a global retailer to a specialist logistics team, can find their niche. The 2018 awards are:
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Technology Innovation (SME)
- Technology Innovation (Large)
- New Facility
- Operations (SME)
- Operations (Large)
- Future Skills
- Warehouse Efficiency
The scope of some of the awards is very broad, e.g. Future Skills which could include anything from app development for better route planning right the way through to training programmes designed to up-skill employees. Other awards have a narrow but deep focus, like Warehouse Efficiency which has a set of criteria that require clear demonstration of a range of efficiency gains in the warehouse environment.
So which companies are in the running in 2018?
It’s a great question and we applaud all the finalists for this year’s awards. Taking a lot at just one category in this year’s awards is instructive. The independent judging panel has shortlisted eleven organisations for the Environment/Sustainability Award – including the Salvation Army Trading Company, Highland Spring, Mitie with CitySprint and SilentNight. This is an impressive range of sectors, each of which will be dealing with quite different environmental or sustainability problems and coming up with a widely varying set of solutions that led to them being considered worthy of an award. While some of these are massive businesses like Highland Spring and Silent Night, others, like the Salvation Army, will be limited in their scope and in their resources.
Being listed as a finalist brings the benefits we listed above, whether or not you are the winner, so if you’re pondering entering an awards scheme, it’s almost certainly going to benefit your business to go through the process.
Obtaining the kudos from a respected independent third party isn’t the only benefit for a logistics organisation from entering a logistics award. For example, because this is the fifth year of the Logistics Awards, they are offering the WOW (Winner of Winner) Awards which are designed to highlight the best projects of the previous half decade. This is the kind of initiative that allows slow burn projects to demonstrate their value to the industry as a whole and opens up the logistics market so that other organisations can see how each award winner has implemented a novel idea. It allows each idea to demonstrate its credibility and can let logistics operators see the evolution of such ideas over a time-frame that reveals the benefit of implementing a new process or system as well as revealing how long it takes to reap some benefits from innovation. These are all invaluable insights to a logistics team.
Entering an awards process is always a morale booster, so many organisations benefit from this activity whether they become a finalist or the eventual winner and attending an awards event can bring great leverage as it puts you in the room with some real big hitters and allows you to engage with them when they are at their most receptive.
This year’s Logistics Awards will be held at The Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe. It should be an amazing evening and there are still some tickets available, so put 20 September in your diary!