Marie-Christine Lombard

Marie-Christine Lombard

  • Industries: Freight, transportation, and logistics
  • Revenues: $9.7 billion
  • Employees: 41,837
  • Headquarters: Paris, France

Embracing Technology

Companies from almost every area of industry are feeling the effects of the digital transformation. Marie-Christine Lombard, chief executive at 4PL firm GEODIS, a leading freight, transportation and logistics company, understands the importance of embracing technology to ease operational pains.

“To reinforce supply chain resilience, logistics players will have to invest even more in strategic assets, such as real estate, robotics, automation, etc. We will probably move from an ‘asset light’ business to a more capital-intensive business model,” Lombard says. This long-term trend will increase barriers to entry in this field, and therefore will change the competitive landscape.

In this case, new technologies are a key factor to drive progress in meeting numerous challenges, ranging from workforce shortages to environmental issues. “We are constantly testing and experimenting with our partners to leverage ideas from the latest technological advancements,” Lombard says.

For example, GEODIS is testing remote-operated forklifts equipped with technology from startup Phantom Auto that enables remote operation using real-time video and audio streams. The technology allows operators to switch between vehicles in different locations depending on demand, opening those jobs to workers in various regions as well as access untapped sections of the labor market, such as people who are physically disabled.

“GEODIS’ ‘Keep Rising’ mindset encourages us to anticipate and respond to major trends affecting our ecosystems and business environment (ecology, digitalization, urbanization) to address our clients’ needs. The DNA of logistics is to adapt our services to uncertainty and to be agile. Customers are our first source of innovation,” Lombard says.

“Reducing our CO2 footprint will bring a lot of innovations. For example, we are working with a truck maker to re-imagine the urban logistics truck of the future,” she says, adding that GEODIS recently bought 200 biogas trucks in France for urban logistics in cities. “Automation and robotics are also a key part of innovation for logistics players to be able to answer new e-commerce needs,” she says.

While continuing to digitize its core business and invest in its strategic assets to enhance customer experience and productivity, GEODIS is capitalizing on its expertise to meet the demands of an increasingly fast-paced supply chain market.