As of spring 2015, the logistics sector is in robust condition, and this is underlined by the findings of the February survey for the Logistics Indicator: the assessment of the current business situation among logistics managers in industry, trade and services is still in the expansive corridor and virtually unchanged, while expectations for the next twelve months are significantly improved. Moreover, both sides of the market expect business to pick up further during the coming three months.
This trend is being supported by persisting high levels of consumer spending in Germany, low oil prices and a weakening euro that boosts exports to markets outside the eurozone. The weakness of the euro is a two-edged sword, however, that needs to be watched closely in the long term: as soon as the cost of oil imports and associated products begins to rise again, the resulting higher costs for procurement of materials and services will have an adverse impact on German companies.
The main damper on assessment of the current business situation are the incoming orders from abroad, which are below the expectations of the previous quarter. At the same time, industry, trade and services now all have expansive expectations for the business trend, which was viewed with greater scepticism in the last quarter. Both sides of the market plan to increase physical resources, for example, and industry and trade intend to recruit new personnel. In the opinion of the logistics managers, it is the clear stimuli from abroad that are driving the positive trend, accompanied by simultaneous and modest expansion on the domestic front.
When it comes to investment, the logistics sector attaches particular importance to digitalisation. As BVL ascertained at the beginning of the year, this is the most important strategic topic. The investment drivers are optimisation of processes, the management of complexity and improvements to the cost structure. In response to the additional question for this Logistics Indicator, over one in two companies says this is an area in which there is untapped potential: they believe that systematic digitalisation strategies are key to securing continuing business success. At the same time, however, the BDI Confederation of German Industry and Roland Berger say that a total of up to 140 billion euros of gross value added may be lost by 2015 if, during the early phase of the transformation process, the automotive and logistics industry do not ensure that they respond effectively to the shift in value added into the IT segment by developing new business models.
Robust, alert and optimistic are the keywords that characterise decision-makers and companies who organise operations in their business fields in an active and forward-looking way. In the position paper entitled "Logistics and IT as Growth Drivers for Germany as an Industrial Location – The New Leading Role of Logistics in the Field of Information Technology", BVL last year already outlined the willingness of the logistics industry to play a greater part in the development of its own software. And indeed, logistics experts in industry, trade, services and academia are already working towards this goal.