5 Evolving Trends in Supply Chain Management
We are living in a highly disruptive technological age where it is almost impossible to make predictions with any degree of certainty. It gets even more complicated if the sector you want to make predictions of is the supply chain management.
However, with a bit of diligence, it’s easy to notice some evolving trends critical to the sector. Below are five key supply chain management trends set to redefine the sector in months and years to come.
1. The Dawn of Warehouse Robotics
Most distribution centres limit automation to workflow propelled by sophisticated warehouse management systems. Only corporate giants with enough financial muscle to construct automated, purpose-designed warehouses have so far enjoyed the full benefits of workflow automation. However, as more robotics enter the market, it is now possible to automate DC operations without having to make disruptive and expensive structural changes. For instance, while robotic forklift trucks are not new, there is a renewed push towards their adoption.
The definitive tipping point in the unfolding robotics trend has already happened as innovators start applying the art of true robotic picking to allow robots to pick orders off conventional racking. Today, some robots can pick up to 1000 items per hour. Amazon, for instance, is using over 80,000 robots, a move that has reduced her operational costs by about 20%. These savings are from improved efficiency as cycle times in centres manned by robots drop from 60 to 15 minutes.
2. The Line between Logistics and Technology Services is disappearing
2017 saw the beginning of a seamless fusion of logistics and technology. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate among technology providers. This is because 3PLs and 4PLs are leveraging IT as a key platform to sell their services. The apparent blend of technology and service into a ‘singular’ formless entity is taking the B2B marketplace by storm, especially those providing logistics.
Just as Uber is a meld of software with service, cloud-based solutions that integrate technical support services are bypassing the need for in-house IT resources. What this trend means for your company is that you will have to procure services and solutions from companies that leverage these synergies.
3. A Dash towards the Last Mile
Delivery of goods from a distribution centre to the retail store, or to the front door of a customer, is the most cost-intensive aspect of the supply chain. To respond to this intensity, there has been increased demand for last-mile resources. It’s no longer just about getting goods to a retail store at a customer’s front door; it is about doing this as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. To achieve this goal, since 2017, there has been a move towards crowd-sourced logistics solutions. Crowd-sourced transportation will transform and revolutionize the delivery of small portable items in ways we have not seen before. Flexibility in orders delivery is going to drive last mile delivery of goods.
4. The Age of Virtual Logistics Teams
The current trend in almost every commercial sector is towards remote workers and virtual teams. Physical and geographical borders no longer restrict companies looking to recruit across territorial waters. Courtesy of the virtual information age we are in, companies can easily access international talent and cut down extraneous expenses. With centralized planning made possible by a planning software and live communication, you no longer need to expend local resources to plan and schedule huge volumes of deliveries. What this means is employees could work from any location and still get the job done. There is also going to be an increase in the use of distributed teams and virtual assistants as technology continues to evolve.
5. Training in Supply Chain Management
To stay abreast of these trends, there will be increased interest in supply chain management courses that reflect this rapidly changing sector. Rather than wait for these trends to overtake you, a course in supply chain management could help you reap the full benefits of synergies wrought by modern technology.