Event Preview: GCCA European Cold Chain Conference 2019


The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) will hold the 22nd European Cold Chain Conference from March 20-22, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. Approximately 100 professionals representing temperature-controlled third-party logistics companies will gather to participate.

By Dan Orehov

The focus of the event is to provide delegates with a better understanding of market trends, industry challenges, business solutions, and technological innovations. There will also be ample networking opportunities to allow attendees to meet, connect/re-connect with professionals from throughout Europe and around the world.

Brexit and other challenges

The challenges facing the European cold chain are mainly focused around data, talent, and the consequences of Brexit.

“Overall, we’re seeing a focus on our warehouse member companies making decisions driven by carefully collected, measured, and analyzed data. They are ramping up their measurement and use of key metrics to build stronger customer relationships and maximize operational efficiencies. In many cases, these 3PL companies are being challenged to lower rates for customers, yet their operational costs are rising. The best way to make customers aware of this fact during rate negotiations is to back it up with data. This is all meant to improve and elevate the 3PL-to-customer relationship from a simple service provider platform to a valuable partnership, with the 3PL offering a multitude of services outside of storing pallets,” Corey Rosenbusch, president & CEO, Global Cold Chain Alliance, told Frozen Food Europe. “Talent recruitment and retention is a key issue across the entire manufacturing sector, and is one that is impacting cold chain companies in Europe quite significantly. Many companies are facing new challenges following the diminished value of the British Pound as a result of Brexit. Workers are no longer seeing the financial benefit of working in warehouses out of their home country, as the money they’re sending home no longer carries the exchange rate strength of the pre-Brexit British Pound. This has led to many of those workers quitting and moving back to their home country to seek work closer to their families. Many warehouses are stuck without a strong pool of candidates to employ in positions like general manager, forklift drivers, and even truck drivers. We’re still fine-tuning the details of what programming around this issue will look like at the conference but it will definitely be covered,” he added.

Continuing on the theme of Brexit, the event will address the economic impact Brexit is having and is anticipated to continue having on the cold chain industry throughout Europe, and specifically how inventory levels are being impacted between the UK and the rest of Europe as a result of the trade changes.

High-Level Topics and Trends to be Discussed

While the advisory committee is still refining the keynotes and sessions, a few key topics and trends have emerged and will surely be covered at the conference. These include:

  • Data – As with many industries right now, big data is top of mind to the temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics sector. Sessions at the conference will explore the action items warehouses can take to improve operational efficiencies and add customer value via the collection and analysis of data.
  • Talent – Recruitment and retention of employees continues to be a challenge across the industry. Most notably in Europe, many companies are experiences new challenges as a result of Brexit. Many warehouses employ workers from eastern Europe, who earn a higher wage with the British Pound and send the money home to their families. With the decrease in the value of the British Pound, many of those workers are opting to move back to Eastern Europe to seek work there.
  • Automated Facilities – Since Europe sets a global standard for advanced automated facilities, the organizers have set up tours to give non-Europeans an opportunity to learn about these facilities and see them first-hand. Other technical topics will be discussed, such as CO2 and natural refrigerants, building envelop solutions, fire protection, etc.

Plenary Sessions

The keynote speakers are leaders in their industries – whether it be logistics, automation, economics or talent management. The organizers told Frozen Food Europe that their stories will inspire attendees to think outside the box and widen their perspectives. With the support of the European Advisory Committee, GCCA is building a program that aims to be transformative, innovative and practical.

Learning Opportunities

The conference education program will offer sessions highlighting organizations that are implementing innovative ideas in the areas of human capital development, automation, cost and time savings, information technology and data, crisis management, and more. The session formats will provide attendees a chance to share ideas, ask questions, and solve problems with their peers.

“Back by popular demand, the Cold Chain Café will be a feature of the 2019 conference. The Café is a roundtable discussion component of the educational program where attendees participate in valuable dialogue with their peers. It is a unique way of sharing ideas and innovations. By the end of the session, each participant will have spent 20 minutes discussing three different topics/issues/ questions,” said Rosenbusch.

Topics may include food safety regulations and compliance, standards and certification, impact of e-commerce on the supply chain, HR – successfully managing the trio: recruiting, hiring and onboarding, reducing energy costs: low-cost and no-cost solutions, automation.

Cold Chain Exhibits

Partnering and working with leading companies in the cold chain industry is essential in providing a complete range of solutions and services to customers. The conference expo will feature the latest technologies, solutions, products and services from some of the most respected companies in the cold chain industry. Past exhibitors have showed the following products and services: Automation Battery and Power Systems, Doors, Construction, Energy Efficiency Solutions, Fire Prevention, Flooring, Insulated Panels, Lighting, Material Handling, Racking/Materials Handling, Refrigeration Equipment, Roofing, WMS/ TMS solutions.

Recognizing NextGen Leaders

GCCA has a longstanding commitment to developing talent in the cold chain industry, which needs a constant influx of young people who represent the next generation of cold chain leaders. To promote talent development, GCCA launched its Global NextGen Future Leader Competition several years ago, which recognizes top candidates from several areas of the world. Candidates from Europe will compete at the GCCA European Cold Chain Conference through interviews with a panel of judges and deliver presentations during a plenary session. At the end of the conference the judges will recognize one future leader to represent Europe in the global competition taking place at the GCCA’s Global Cold Chain Expo, June 10-12, 2019 in Chicago. There the European Future Leader Award Recipient will compete with their counterparts from Latin America, Australia and South Africa for the title of GCCA’s 2019 Global NextGen Future Leader.

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