People Who Move the World: LF Logistics
Using CargoWise One, LF Logistics has grown from a niche player in the Asia market to a major multinational organization.
If you asked someone 20 years ago about logistics, they might think it’s a boring business,” says COO and Executive Director of LF Logistics Rajesh Ranavat. “But globally, logistics is really becoming a sexy business with the advent of eCommerce. You can’t disintermediate the logistics providers: someone has to move the product from point A to point B.”
In these transformational decades, Ranavat has helped LF Logistics grow from a niche player in the logistics market in Asia, to a major multinational organization managing the supply chain of some of the world’s most exclusive brands. Having been with the business for 18 years (and for more than a decade before that with a business that parent company Li & Fung acquired), he knows that change is the only constant in the industry.
“Innovation is really a mindset,” he says. “There is a lot of disruptive change and the only way we can survive and we can ensure our customers survive is to come up with new ways of doing things differently. We pre-empt the future.”
Today, LF Logistics manages over 22 million square feet of warehouse space with over 6,000 employees in 14 countries. But while their network is truly global, they remain focused on helping Western brands succeed in Asian markets.
“We are Asian and we’re proud of that,” says Senior Vice President of IT Wayne Appleby. “The reason a lot of the multinational brands come to LF Logistics is because we know Asia better than the international players. They want to work with a partner that is Asian, knows Asia, but operates like a multinational.”
LF Logistics now have a number of high-profile clients across five major product segments. The rise of eCommerce, combined with Chinese economic growth, has turbo-charged the company’s development.
Appleby says when attracting premium customers, having an industry-leading global system like CargoWise One has been an essential ingredient. “Premium customers have a very high expectation, they want you to provide the systems, they want you to provide visibility, they want dashboards, they want KPIs, they want you to handle exceptions for them. There’s a whole control tower approach that comes with that and you’ve got to have CargoWise for a start.”
The high standards of these companies has pushed LF Logistics to improve all aspects of their business and CargoWise One has been an essential part of this evolution. “CargoWise is a huge step forward. We had legacy systems which created duplication, data was inconsistent, the environments weren’t even linked together properly. CargoWise gave us a single environment,” says Appleby.
“Immediately we got rid of a lot of double data entry so there was operational efficiencies. But then the biggest one is visibility; now we just know what’s going on.”
Divisional Manager Lance So agrees. In addition to the single-platform visibility, he says that CargoWise One takes the stress out of staying ahead of regulatory changes or managing complex software and hardware requirements. “CargoWise One is a cloud-based system so we don’t need to host the server, we don’t need to worry about the infrastructure, we don’t need to worry about the security. Recently we had an Indian tax upgrade [but] we didn’t need to worry about that because CargoWise had already taken care of it.”
Modern logistics companies don’t just move products; they move information. With visibility over large amounts of data and comprehensive reporting capabilities, So can now help customers make quick and informed decisions or deal with exceptions in-house before they become major issues.
“We can get an annual, global report in a matter of minutes, where in the past it would take weeks. We can do more jobs with the same staff size. It’s definitely a competitive advantage.”
Appleby says that the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, combined with the right systems, gives LF Logistics an edge in a fast-growing market. “There’s 100 freight forwarders, there’s 50 good 3PL players, so you’ve got to be able to go to your customer with something that differentiates. Having the right systems gives you an opportunity to attract new customers, an opportunity to be more efficient and keep your costs down, but then also an ongoing service offering.”
For Ranavat, the workflow and visualization capabilities of CargoWise One allow him to empower his staff and create a frictionless experience for the customer. “We are very passionate, hard-working people. The whole culture is one of openness…we don’t believe in a lot of bureaucracy. We can easily slip into each other’s jobs temporarily if someone is away or busy with other things and that really creates a seamless experience for the customer. That is what creates a reputation.”
LF Logistics are focused on three main areas for the next three years: speed, digitization, and innovation. And while Ranavat says they have already gotten more than the expected return on investment from their technology platforms, they still have more to gain.
“We have barely started,” he says. “Our vision is really to be a leading logistics supply chain player in Asia. I think there is a huge amount of opportunity in terms of our capabilities, what we bring to the table, so we see a long period of growth for us.”
With a strong foundation, built around an innovative system, and backed by a culture that evolves with the needs of its customers, the sky’s the limit for LF Logistics.