Steve Jordan heads off to the Future of Logistics show to try to find out what vehicles we will all be running in years to come.
It was a hot afternoon, the last day of June and the sun was a demon. Well, actually, no it wasn’t. It was cool and a bit drizzly, but I can never resist the occasional quote from the Bobby Goldsboro song on this particular day every year. It was, however, the day I headed off to the aerodrome at Farnbrough, venue for the famous air show, for my first exhibition in almost two years: The Future of Logistics, hosted by Logistics UK.
I went for three reasons: it is, at least in part, relevant to the moving industry as it showcases all the latest developments in sustainable transport; after so long in virtual solitary confinement I was craving some wider human contact; and Major Tim Peake, the British astronaut, was giving the keynote speech and I figured he might be interesting. It was also going to be interesting to see how a major event like this can be staged in, what is considered to be, a COVID-safe environment.
I must say that Logistics UK did a good job. Farnborough is an impressive location with the exhibition site, inside and outside, elevated above the airfield. It really must be a spectacular experience to go to the air show. There was a comprehensive display of vehicles, of almost every persuasion, outside – no removal vehicles of course but that would have been asking too much – and an array of suppliers’ stands indoors appropriately widely spaced to keep the air flowing within the building. At least, I expect that’s why there was plenty of room. It certainly gave a feeling of confidence while people are, understandably, still somewhat nervous about mixing in groups.
Masks were compulsory indoors, two out of three chairs were marked as ‘not in use’ in the conference hall (so why were they there then?), and the organisers insisted on clearing the entire room after each presentation to reset and disinfect before the next lot came in. Questions were handled via an app which seemed to be very efficient, although no matter how much I stabbed at my phone or muttered under my breath I couldn’t make mine work. Plenty of others did though so I guess it was me being stupid.
Tim Peake was, as expected, very polished and extremely interesting for anyone like me who was a teenager in the 1960s when the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions were in full flow. Astronauts have a gift of being able to answer questions fully, calmly and in tremendous detail without baffling anyone with science. I have noticed this before at Cape Kennedy. It’s a real talent. Maybe a few should go into politics. Enthralled I was, but I was struggling to find much in his speech that was relevant to our industry. Glad I went though.
More relevant was session two. It was entitled ‘Future Vehicles and Future Fuels’ ...
Photo: Future Vehicles and Future Fuels panel discussion.