The calendar and the weather tell us it's autumn, while the logistics climate in Germany has returned to the level seen in the spring. Five weeks before the 32nd International Supply Chain Conference, which will take place in Berlin from October 28 to 30, 2015 and is expected to welcome over 3,000 participants from industry, trade, the services, academia and the social arena from 40 countries, the experts polled in the survey for the Logistics Indicator are less positive than they were: the logistics service providers take a slightly less optimistic view of the current business situation and the outlook for the next 12 months than was the case in Q2; the respondents from industry and trade also see a slight downtrend, but at the same time all the sub-indicators for Q3 are still solidly in the expansive corridor.
The influx of refugees and the reinstatement of border controls are making themselves noticeable in some areas of global trade and among the service providers who enable the corresponding flows of goods. There is generally a great willingness to help among logistics managers. One example is the support of BVL members for the initiative "Logistics paves the way", via which companies can publish their job vacancies and their internships and training places specifically for refugees online. As the asylum laws make it difficult for companies to take on refugees directly, the job vacancies are forwarded to the employment agencies and referral offices in the various regions. 356 positions are currently being advertised.
The developments in the emerging economies and especially in China continue to exert a major influence on global trade. It is apparent that the headlines about the possible slump in Chinese production and doubts over the pace of growth in the Middle Kingdom combined with uncertainty regarding the impact this would have on the world economy are of particular importance for Germany's logistics industry. It must also be borne in mind, however, that China accounted for only 6.6 percent of German exports in 2014, making it the fourth ranked customer country for German goods.
Other geopolitical crisis spots, such as the persisting tensions in the relationship between Russia and the EU, have recently faded into the background and are therefore not seen as playing any role in the current downtrend in logistics activity. The growth in demand from the USA, where the DIW experts say economic output was up by 3.7 percent in the second quarter, and the modest but steady growth in demand from the rest of Europe are generating positive stimuli. In August of this year, more jobs were created in German industry than at any time since 2012. The Purchasing Manager Index is at a 16-month high, and incoming orders in industry and trade have been on an uptrend for the last nine months. Moreover, the still moderate raw material prices are acting much like an economic stimulus programme. When asked about the outlook for Q4, over 40 percent of logistics service providers and more than 30 percent of users in industry and trade forecast improved business.
In the latest survey, respondents were asked for their assessment of digitisation, which is changing the face of industry in many areas and even calling established business models into question. Industry and trade appear to attach greater importance to the trend of "digital transformation" than logistics service providers. Industry and trade record higher scores with regard to what they see as the main requirements for – as well as the opportunities that should be provided for – employees: an analytical mindset and joined-up thinking head the rankings, closely followed by communication skills, an entrepreneurial attitude and the ability to make quick decisions. When it comes to the measures that need to be taken to make it easier for employees to cope with digitisation, the three top-ranked success factors are flexible working hours, further training and the delegation of responsibility.