Per Olof Arnäs
Per Olof Arnäs, Chalmers researcher and founder of Logistikpodden and Logistics Rocks, decided to switch platforms from blog to podcast. Photo: Hiba Fawaz

Two nerds and a conversation

​How can we get from point A to point B in a sustainable way? How connected to the web do farmers need to be? What is the role of shipping logistics when it comes to e-commerce? And how can you connect rock ’n’ roll and logistics? Questions raised by Chalmers researcher Per Olof Arnäs, who has made it his mission to interview the rock stars of the logistics industry.
A digital audio file enabling you to listen to two people chatting, one person sharing their thoughts, or a group discussing a book together – the podcast concept is a broad one. And very simple according to Per Olof Arnäs, researcher and senior lecturer of logistics and transport, who uses his podcast Logistikpodden (The Logistics Podcast in Swedish) to introduce the celebrities of the logistics industry to society. 

Today, Sweden is number five on the list of countries with the most podcast listeners. One of the most popular podcasts is called Serial, an American podcast where you follow an in-depth study of a murder investigation that took place more than 15 years ago. In the mass of doubtful evidence and old witness statements, Per Olof became a dedicated listener. 

“Serial was probably a gateway podcast for many people. I thought that I’d listen while I did the dishes, and before I knew it, I had listened to them all - one episode after another.”

He continued to listen to various podcasts on various subjects and eventually started to look for something closer to his own subject. A search for Logistikpodden revealed that no such podcast about logistics existed – yet. He had created a blog on the subject of logistics in 2011, and in preparation for its anniversary on 7 December 2014, he decided to try something new. He bought the domain Logistikpodden, and 10 minutes later he had decided to change platforms from text to audio.  

“It’s just two nerds talking about something that they find interesting". 

Per Olof Arnäs, Chalmers researcher 


Logistikpodden is now a big hit in the industry. Focusing on the logistics industry and people, Per Olof invites guests to take part in a discussion starting with one single question: Who are you?

“When two nerds talk about something they find interesting, it results in a conversation that is fun to listen to. There is no message, just their story. I enjoy good conversations, and people enjoy talking about themselves.”

Per Olof’s message is that logistics can be fun. He wants to show this by highlighting the people who choose to work in the industry, but also by showing how broad and multi-faceted logistics can be. 

“One of my guests was Dag Ericsson, who has been a logistics researcher since 1966. His history is quite a substantial part of him. However, with the start-up Budbee and its founder Fredrik Hamilton, we covered the past in 10 minutes and spent the rest of the time talking about the present and future.”

He hopes that the podcast will help to disseminate knowledge. Per Olof admits that he brings out the teacher in him to communicate the usefulness of the information that is discussed. 

“There’s a difference between my podcast and two ‘dudes’ talking about what they did last weekend – even though that type of conversation sometimes comes up as well. For example, Lars Green, well-known in shipping logistics, had been to the legendary Studio 54 in New York in 1978. I simply had to ask him about that.”

Not all guests in the podcasts actually work in logistics. Sometimes Per Olof thinks it is valuable to bring in additional perspectives and try to find the link to the industry. In one popular episode, we meet sustainability chef Paul Svensson.

“Paul proved to be spot-on. He is extremely committed to sustainability, circular economy and suchlike. For instance, any leftover croissants are ground down to make brioche that is put in the freezer. They don’t throw anything away. He thinks about incoming deliveries and planning and has interesting opinions on various logistics solutions in the restaurant industry.”

Per Olof’s goal is to attract listeners with a link to the logistics industry, not least his own students. However, he also thinks that the podcast is on a sufficiently understandable level for anyone.  

“Sometimes we get extra nerdy talking about inventory management, while other episodes are about theoretical aspects. But most of them are educational in a general sense. They are about the guest being interviewed. Sometimes I recommend certain episodes to my students. There is so much good material, and it helps to make the subject fun.” 

Journey, Van Morrison, and logistics

By 7 December 2017, he had been making podcasts for three years. On the same day, after an interview with Jessica Rosencrantz, deputy chair on the Committee on Transport and Communications in the Swedish Parliament, Per Olof stood outside the parliament building and became fixated on the date: what would he do to celebrate his anniversary? 


“I got my 360-camera out and said thank you for listening, when my mouth suddenly said, ‘By the way, I’m going to start a podcast in English.’ It had crossed my mind before, but I hadn’t decided on anything. Luckily my mouth followed this up by saying, ‘in the coming year’.”

Per Olof had previously heard that the new top-level domain .rocks had been released, and he now quickly secured the name logistics.rocks for himself. In a vote among friends and colleagues on what the English podcast should be called, one name was the clear winner: Logistics Rocks. In his new podcast, Per Olof saw his chance to combine his interests, logistics and rock music. And what’s more – as he says in the introduction to each episode – to introduce the rock stars of the logistics industry.

The rock music theme is noticeable in various parts of the podcast. The logotype features an open-source variation on the Iron Maiden font, and the episodes are released in volumes, like a classic rock album. Additionally, all guests choose a rock song and give reasons for their choice. He then compiles the songs on a public Spotify playlist. 

“The fact that the guests have to choose a song is a way of making them open up – an icebreaker. That gives me something to follow up on. Why have they chosen that particular song? Some people give it a lot of thought. For example, Helena Samsioe who works with drones in humanitarian logistics chose Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.”

“Others pick a song without links to the subject, and instead quite simply because they like it.” 

The major difference between Logistikpodden and Logistics Rocks is that the subject is now the focus rather than the person. 


“Each volume has a theme. I’m interested in finding out what the guests do in the subject, in conveying their knowledge. The target group now is different: I want to reach listeners worldwide who are interested in logistics.” 


The first volume of Logistics Rocks is about humanitarian logistics. A subject that Per Olof feels is extremely important for the world to learn more about – a perspective that he wants to communicate in all the volumes’ subjects. 

“Humanitarian Logistics saves lives and goes beyond business models; work is done for humanity. My second volume is about autonomous vehicles, the third about Blockchain. I have also planned a volume on Urban Logistics and one on global trade. The subject doesn’t need to be super-topical, but it needs to be interesting and linked to logistics.”

“In the words of my friend Martin Lindeskog: everyone has a podcast within themselves. I’m actually on my fourth one. But it’s secret for now.”

Per Olof Arnäs, Chalmers researcher 

Podcasting as a researcher 

Per Olof’s podcasts are permeated by one single philosophy: he says yes to things that are fun and things that he doesn’t fully understand. That’s why he will continue making his podcasts for as long as he finds it to be interesting. 

However, one goal Per Olof likes to dream about will remain. To sit down in front of the microphone and talk logistics with some of his favourite nerds: Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson or Elon Musk.

And his message to the academic world is that all researchers should start a podcast.

“There are advantages, such as the fact that podcasting can lead to collaborations and so on. But of course, first and foremost, you need to find it exciting. In the words of my friend Martin Lindeskog: everyone has a podcast within themselves. I’m actually on my fourth one. But it’s secret for now.” 

Text: Hiba Fawaz


MORE INFORMATION

Logistikpodden aims to highlight the celebrities, proponents, and experts in the logistics industry through discussions. You can download the podcast via any podcast app or listen to Logistikpodden here >>

Logistics Rocks is a podcast that wants to draw more attention to the logistics industry by highlighting various subjects and perspectives in logistics. You can download the podcast via any podcast app or listen to Logistics Rocks here >> 

For anyone interested in planning a podcast on their own, you can follow Per Olof Arnäs and Lena Göthberg (from Shipping Podcast) in their podcast Podgeek. There, they talk about their knowledge and experiences about starting a pod. Listen to Podgeek here >> 

Published: Thu 23 May 2019. Modified: Mon 27 May 2019