Global Supply Chain Trends to Watch

April 15, 2020

The world is getting smaller by the minute, and production and manufacturing are getting more accessible with it. Supply chain management is going through some interesting trends. Some of these trends are based on the speed and efficiency of supply and some are correcting our past hasty mistakes – like the increase of green logistics and getting the balance right between automation and human resources.

Being agile as a business is essential in today’s modern world, particularly if your industry has a need for procurement and supply chain management or relies heavily on logistics. Let’s have a look at the top five global supply chain trends we should be watching.

Increasing the Use of Green Logistics

Sustainability is a term and a drive that is not going anywhere – and for good reason. Companies that are able to adapt their supply chain processes to make use of logistics that are kinder on the environment and change the way they package, prepare, and ship their products are not only benefiting by adding to the sustainability of our natural resources, but they’re also seeing an increase in profit thanks to lower costs.

Cost savings can be seen in green logistics in many surprising areas:

  • Freight consolidation
  • Ethical sourcing and supply
  • Less tax on carbon emissions
  • Eco-conscious consumers favoring your business
  • Lower fuel costs
  • Improved driver behaviors

Integrated Technology

The innovations in technology never slow down and in the supply chain space, this is just as true. Emerging technologies are going to make incredible changes in the industry in countless different ways. Here are a few of the top picks for technology that we expect will see sweeping changes to supply chain:

  • Autonomous Vehicles – We’re going to see a surge in the popularity of not only driverless cars but automated vehicles in factories and warehousing too. Drone deliveries might make themselves available in this space, but probably the closest innovation to reality is driverless cars.
  • IoT Devices – Internet of Things connected devices are dropping rapidly in cost to the point where tracking a single package using an IoT device has an almost negligible cost. Imagine an integrated warehouse or full supply chain where you can zero in on the exact location of any package in real-time.
  • Digital Twin Supply Chains – these virtual copies of real-world supply chains are going to give supply chain managers incredible power to manage, experiment, and improve their supply chain operations without the need to risk real-world consequences until the digital models have proven to be effective.
  • Business Intelligence – There is an untapped protentional for businesses to be smarter using the data that they are already collecting in smarter and better ways. Top-ranked supply chain management courses like those offered by Kettering University Online are invaluable for anyone wanting to learn proper business intelligence.

The Balancing Act of Humans vs Technology

There was a time when people thought that machines would systematically replace the need to have a single human employee and while in some ways this has proven true, there has been a resurgence in the need for human resources in specific roles within the supply chain.

While automation is still very high on the list of trends and focuses for supply chains, human capital is still incredibly important. To ensure that the automation is operating at its absolute efficiency peak, and because humans aren’t going to be needed for menial tasks anymore; they’re going to play a bigger role in the nuanced needs of the supply chain – like strategy and business analytics, customer support, and other areas.

Pre-Fulfilment of Online Orders

Because of our need to get things sooner and quicker, warehouses have a need to get smarter, and that’s where we’re going to see an even larger surge in the trend of pre-fulfillment. Data-driven intelligence in businesses as more sales are processed means that a bigger picture can be compiled of what needs to be stocked and ready to ship at a moment’s notice.

Same-day or even next day delivery in a complex logistics network requires depots and the ability to orchestrate almost to the minute precision in your supply chain and using warehouse intelligence and automation in combination with big data and business intelligence is going to give rise to the pre-fulfillment of online orders.

If you work in supply chain management, you’ll need to have a real sense of business intelligence in your field, and with the increase in the availability of tools that can offer you real-time data, there’s no reason not to fully embrace the supply chain of the future. Along with a strong focus on data and measurable information, embracing the trends discussed here can mean your business positions itself for success for the future of the supply chain.

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