The connotation of supply chain management has been evolving as the juncture changes. Processes inherent to the topic are subject to changes in many aspects that necessarily depend on technological developments. Expert David Kiger addressed the topic in a previous article, but the question still lingers: where are all these supply chain management trends going?
There is always an issue with trends: they are like that scene from Indiana Jones where Dr. Jones is being chased by a gigantic rock; the audience is aware of the rock chasing the archeologist, but what increases suspense here is that viewers ignore whether at what point Dr. Jones is going to be reached by the boulder. With such analogy in mind, as for Supply Chain Management, 2017 seems to be kind of an inflection point; there seem to be trends, and to some extent, predictions that are worth paying attention to.
The American juncture
With the rise of Donald Trump, when it comes to trade with China and Mexico, things seem to be bound to change: all this protectionist rhetoric suggests that by the end of the present year, the United States will have experienced a decrease in trade with both the Asian Giant and, maybe to a lesser degree, with Mexico. Big companies and multinationals seem to be highly concerned, as their supply chain networks are likely going to change, depending on how things unfold —they ought to pay special attention to where they are going to need to place their facilities and how they are going to keep reaching their customers.
The rise of automation
Automation is perhaps one of the most concerning aspects within the whole supply chain management realm. It would be fair to assert that, to some extent, as automation makes its way through, the number of employees working in logistics is certainly going to be reduced — it does not require a lot to understand that delivery drones will reduce the need for delivery individuals; however, even though large companies and multinationals are increasingly putting and allocating a lot of money in this technology, that will seldom happen in the present year. Google, Amazon and some large vehicle companies are the “settlers” of this idea.
On the other hand, it is a reality that robotic devices will ultimately decrease the need for warehouse and facility employees and workers. According to a recent survey on primary investment concerns, up to 15% of warehouse executives suggested that procuring autonomous robots in the near future was definitely a major concern. Be that as it may, even though the future might seem bleak at some point, such thing will seldom happen in 2017 as well. However, as mentioned earlier in this article, this juncture brings along specific inflection points: if these robots manage to get past the issues regarding their vision and tactile systems; if these robots manage to actually pick items off of warehouse shelves, warehouse and facility jobs are likely to disappear at a staggering rate. It is nonetheless unlikely that there will be an effective solution to these issues in the present year.
The emergence of E-Commerce
The vast majority of customers surely can relate to the fact that holiday seasons bring along the dreary scenario of late orders and packages. To what extent can late packages be fully eliminated is something debatable —some experts would agree that they cannot be fully eliminated; however, stores, retailers and shippers alike are certainly coming up with something that will help them avoid such meltdowns.
Consumers may expect a much better landscape as for detailed planning, and they will likely receive all their order on time for the holiday season. This is highly related to the previous point: given that e-Commerce has gone from 9% of retail to almost 30%, in order to ensure the delivery of all those packages, companies like DHL and the vast majority of large 3PLs are planning on investing more in drones and other automation solutions.
The digital supply chain
Today’s juncture is full of digital substantives: digital marketing, digital economy, most of which are embedded in the term “Internet of Things”. The concept of Internet of Things, however, is nothing new in the logistics realm, as there has been an ongoing tendency to seize the speed at which data is now conveyed to improve warehouse and facility processes. Such protocols strive to make communication between parties much easier, without mentioning the perks of using it for tracking purposes. What is definitely something worth paying attention to is the so-called Supply Chain Control Tower where the whole orchestration and all the processes takes place: using relevant, credible and reliable data to provide effective solutions —such effectiveness depends, of course in the quality of the data: the more contextualized data can be put into these towers, the more effective the orchestration will be.
* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com