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Awards judge reflects on disruptive technology in the first/final mile

Awards judge reflects on disruptive technology in the first/final mile

Prof. Neil H. Ashworth, CEO of Collect+ and Innovation judge of The Logistics Awards, discusses dirsuption in the first/final mile.

Kirsty Adams: Neil, what are the most interesting innovations you've seen implemented in the logistics industry in the last year?

Prof. Neil H. Ashworth: The most intriguing innovations are those that are creating disruption in the final mile/first mile of the customer delivery process. Whether this is the increasing volume of drone trials in the UK and beyond, the establishment of land delivery robots or the development of autonomous delivery vehicles. The reason why I gravitate towards these is because they are seeking to present possible solutions to a real future problem – that of a smaller workforce. As the ‘baby boomer’ generation moves towards retirement, there will be a smaller absolute number of people in the workplace and we must therefore look to technology in the form of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence to ‘bridge the gap’. Whilst there are many that say that these types of technology will never catch on, my view is that there is a real need for them, which will create the circumstances for use. We must, however, guard against regulating these opportunities out of our economy – there is a real opportunity for the UK to lead on these applications.

Neil joined Collect+, the UK’s largest independent store based parcel network as CEO in early 2013 having been at the forefront of digital developments in retail for over 15 years.

Before Collect+, Neil worked as a business advisor to several blue-chip UK retailers and fulfilment businesses following a period at Tesco, where he was a member of the small team that created the Tesco Direct business and was a member of the board.  Prior to Tesco, Neil held senior positions at Woolworths, Hallmark Cards and CWS Ltd.

Neil is the immediate past Chairman of CILT(UK), a member of the Engineering & Logistics Staff Corps within the British military, and an Ambassador for Transaid.
He is a member of the Advisory Board at Warwick University Professional and Executive Programme faculty and on the Retail and Retail Marketing Masters Programmes at Cranfield University School of Management. He is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University, a Visiting Lecturer at Warwick University (WMG) and is Professor of Operations Management and Information Systems at Nottingham University Business School

Neil additionally holds the position of Independent Non-Executive Director at NISA Retail, and is Chair of their Audit Committee.

Enter The Logistics Awards. Benefits of being a finalist include:

• Highlighted on the @shdlogistics Twitter account (8,000+ followers)
• Inclusion in a preview article published in SHD Logistics Magazine (12,000 circulation)
• Your entry announced in front of 450 logistics professionals at The Logistics Awards
• Your project featured in the Awards Programme and in a published Event Review
• Receive exclusive digital artwork, including a finalist logo


Venue:                                                    Grange St. Paul's Hotel
Date:                                                       Thursday 21 September 2017
Entry to Awards opens:                        3 March 2017
Entry to Awards close:                         19 May 2017
Contact:                                                  [email protected] or 020 7017 7122
To enter visit:                               

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