Sri Lankan logistics experts push for professionalism in transport planning

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan logistics professionals are pushing for a more scientific approach to transport planning, the lack of which has led to worsening traffic jams that are acting as a drag on economic growth.

“For Sri Lanka to harness its potential as a logistics hub, we have to have indigenous processes that suit our situation, developed and managed locally,” said Amal Kumarage, senior professor in the Department of Transport and Logistics Management at the University of Moratuwa.

“Logistics hubs elsewhere, like Singapore and Hong Kong, build on the strengths of local universities getting involved in different sectors,” he told a news conference.

An advantage in business can only be built on solid principles and from the foundation up, said Kumarage, who is also president of the Sri Lanka Society for Transport and Logistics (SLSTL) and chairman of the organizing committee of the ‘R4TLI-2017’ forum.

Research for Transport & Logistics Industry or R4TLI this year is the second international conference initiated by SLSTL to promote research and development in the transport and logistics sector in Sri Lanka.

The research conference, to be held on Saturdy, 22nd of July at the Galle Face Hotel, intends to build a platform where the needs of the industry can be discussed and scientific processes showcased through research presentations.

Kumarage said Sri Lanka needs to develop its own resources – people with necessary training and background – to emerge as a logistics hub.

“Now our universities are producing graduates in transport and logistics. It did not happen 10 years ago. Several universities are doing it now,” he said.

“In the past we had a big problem of not having specially trained people in important sectors but this need is now being met.”

The country needs to develop tools, systems and methods that industry can use, Kumarage said.





In Sri Lanka’s passenger and freight transport sector a lot of systems are still manual, having evolved over time, and tend to be very much the domain of people who gathered their skills purely by experience.

“But leading transport and logistics hubs have gone for modern methods, ICT-based methods, for optimisation and science-based techniques,” Kumarage said.

“That’s where Sri Lanka needs to have headway in the next 10 years – to develop our own tools and techniques, together with people qualified to use them so Sri Lanka can, within the next 10 years, actually begin to exploit our own resources much better than today. The R4TLI-2017 conference is our own contribution to develop that kind of thinking.”

Most of the research to be presented on Saturday was done by Sri Lankans or those in Sri Lanka.

“We’re pitching the quality of research at a very high level, the papers have gone through a very severe review process because we want to encourage good research, methodologically defendable research,” Kumarage said.

“We also want to direct research to actual applied areas – that’s why it is called R4TLI. Each paper is applicable to industry. While we do value pure, basic research, this is all about applied research.”

The 41 papers to be presented this year in 12 sessions vary from policy to operations, to networks to modelling and to management, covering different aspects of transport and logistics delivery systems.

They cover all modes of transport – ground, aviation and sea and both passenger and goods transport.

Sri Lanka Society for Transport and Logistics, which is a Domestic Member of Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS), said R4TLI is an initiative that would help diagnose current issues and identify potential improvements based on scientific evidence.

It aims to build a platform where the needs of the industry can be discussed and scientific processes developed for rectification of issues can be showcases through research presentations.

The keynote speakers are Tetsuro Hyodo, a professor of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology who will speak on logistics planning in Japan and Alex de Barrows, a professor of the University of Calgary, Canada who will speak on trends in airport planning.
(COLOMBO, July 19, 2017)

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