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The latest ideas in sheds

4th October 2019

SGP sponsored September’s Built Environment Networking Sheds and Development Conference in Milton Keynes which featured several experts discussing key topics and challenges affecting the sector and showcasing projects and initiatives.

As part of the day, James spoke at and chaired the final panel session on ‘Innovation and Infrastructure’. He was joined on the panel by Lucy Hudson (Transport for the North), Rachel Price (Siemens), Daniel Hulme (Satalia) and Will Cooper (Savills) and what ensued was an engrossing discussion covering AI, disruption in the supply chain, upskilling, infrastructure, transport eco systems and the Shed of the Future. With such experts from property, transport and new technology solutions, it was a real learning experience, listening to the different perspectives and concerns. There was even a book recommendation (‘Future Crimes’ by Marc Goodman) for those interested in new tech and how this is being exploited.

Of all the topics discussed two stood out as particularly thought-provoking.

Explains James: The first was a consistent theme across the conference why can it be so difficult to get logistics projects through planning? Many felt that the planning system as it stands is slow and cumbersome and not set up for the more complex environment associated with logistics. Whether that is micro-hubs embedded in new residential schemes or siting logistics centres within rail and road networks, there was a consensus that such projects should be treated as essential infrastructure and dealt with accordingly in planning.

On James’ panel the discussion on the role of AI in the logistics sector took an unexpected but fascinating turn. There has been a lot written on the impact of AI, especially on the reduction of the human element in the workplace. Whilst none on the panel doubted this could and is already impacting logistics, with operators implementing automated systems for the “pick and pack” process, the discussion turned towards a more positive outcome – the growth of better, higher skilled, higher paid jobs in the broader supply chain. The type of AI system required to replace people, although developing fast, is still some way off, and that development itself will require people with high level technical skills, creating appropriate employment opportunities in the industries that will make those systems happen.

Finishing on a business note, many of SGP’s existing clients and contacts in the sector were also in attendance and it was good to catch-up with many of them. As always, social media was active, with some excellent, positive content on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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