The Chain Of Collaboration

In the modern era of globalisation, the choice is simple: either an enterprise collaborates today or it may flounder tomorrow. No industry understands this better than Logistics.

By Winifred Tan

“The logistics industry is both competitive and collaborative,” says Associate Professor Tan Yan Weng, Head of the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Programme at SIM University.

“In any industry, competition is the driving force behind creative innovation. Yet the logistics industry also thrives on collaborative relationships along the supply chain – from supplier to manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer and so on – to get products moving from the point of production to consumption.”

Tapping thoughtfully against his chin, Yan Weng adds, “Collaboration is therefore key to driving the logistics industry in today’s increasingly challenging business environment”.

Logistics in Singapore
With over 25 years of experience in both the private consultancy and educational sectors, Yan Weng has witnessed the ebb and flow of the logistics and supply chain industry in Singapore.

It is only in recent years, he says, that businesses have started focusing on logistics as a source of competitive advantage. Leveraging on its strategic location between the East and West, Singapore is well-positioned to deliver sustainable logistical solutions and capitalise on growing global trade.

Today, Yan Weng is heartened to see the multi-billion dollar industry finally realising its potential, contributing about 9% of national GDP and employing some 180,000 professionals at all levels.

“According to the 2010 Logistics Performance Index, Singapore was ranked second out of 155 countries, just behind economic powerhouse Germany and ahead of many other developed nations,” he enthuses.

“This is a fantastic achievement for a small country like ours. It demonstrates our commitment to develop Singapore into a leading global integrated logistics hub.”

Developing human capital
To meet the growing needs of the logistics industry, the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) has partnered with SIM University to launch the first undergraduate programme in Logistics and Supply Chain Management to be offered by a Singapore university, which Yan Weng is currently heading.

Targeted at working logisticians who are keen to upgrade their skills, the programme offers a blend of theory and practice to ensure industry relevance.

“We bring in speakers from the industry to share about latest developments, conduct public seminars jointly with SLA, and organise site visits so that students can get up close and personal with industry players,” Yan Weng explains.

Judging by the overwhelming response to the programme, it is clear that the younger generations of practitioners also share Yan Weng’s passion for the logistics field.

“The logistics industry spans different functional areas within companies and across industries,” he says with a smile. “It might not be as glamorous as Finance or Banking but it offers solid opportunities for competent team players who are excited about managing relationships within the often complex and intricate supply chain network.”

Expanding horizons
The rapid expansion of the logistics industry also means different types of problems. Companies have to be ready to pick up the gauntlet of tackling these challenges.

“This is the era of globalisation,” he elaborates. “The customer in today’s marketplace has become more demanding, not just in terms of product quality but also customer service. Logisticians thus have a vital role to play in delivering such customer-oriented service.”

So how would Yan Weng sum up a career in the logistics industry?

“It’s about collaborating with the right partners to get the right product, in the right quantity and right quality, delivered to the right place, at the right time for the right customer at the right price,” he concludes.

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