Warehouse Data: Challenges and Opportunities

Our recent roundtable brought together a group of representatives from the warehousing and logistics industry to share their perspectives on data science. The discussion, chaired by SHD Logistics assistant editor, David Tran, highlighted the challenges businesses face when organising and managing the data they collect, and how to utilise this data for success in a rapidly changing industry.

The event took place at the Innovation Centre, Sci-Tech Daresbury, where our sales and marketing director, Marcus Uprichard, was joined by an expert panel, including;

  • Lynn Parnell, Logistics Partners Consultancy Ltd
  • Adam Gerard, chief digital officer at Yodel
  • Terry Siddle, director of logistics and distribution at Pets at Home
  • Jason Illingworth, system implementation manager for Amethyst Group
  • Dr Phil Greening, deputy director at the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight and Professor at Heriot-Watt University
  • Phillip Rowlands, head of software delivery systems at imio software solutions

The discussion kick-started with the question, ‘what does data mean to you?’ Throughout the morning attendees touched on a number of different uses and challenges, including employee productivity, storage, regulation, recruitment, automation and ‘the last mile’. Here are some of the main discussion points:


Although we’re now over a year on from the GDPR deadline, there still appears to be widespread confusion around the regulation. A staggering amount of information is now created at a warehouse level, and it seems that some organisations are feeling overwhelmed with how to manage it, while others are on a journey to ensure that they’re compliant. The key lesson from the panellists was that it is essential to work out where the different pools of data are, how it is collected and how it is shared. Once this has been established, it is simpler to work out which data needs protecting.

Decision-making data

Data should play a key role in the decision-making processes of an organisation as it can help improve operational practices, identify trends and support business growth. Yet, to achieve the best results from the information collected it is beneficial to have two teams of data scientists; one to evaluate how to incrementally grow the business, and the other to identify opportunities for radical change.

The Fourth Revolution

Companies need to be ready for the forthcoming fourth revolution – the Internet of Things (IoT). This readiness can be achieved by analysing unstructured data to unveil hidden opportunities. According to Professor Phil Greening, companies who have organised their data effectively and know how to use it are more ready for IoT and the opportunities that it brings, yet those that haven’t risk falling into a ‘competency trap’ that’s difficult to get out of.

For more insight and expert opinion on data in the warehouse and logistics sector, make sure you stay up to date with our roundtable blog series over the coming weeks.