Leadership

Technologies driving supply chains in 2021 and beyond

Supply Chain

COVID-19 has wrecked economic havoc on countries around the world. Contemporary supply chains find themselves in turmoil and increased scrutiny. Prior to the pandemic, new political developments have led to various challenges for global supply chains: New financial barriers and protectionism.

Contemporary global supply chain networks focus on minimal lead times at the lowest price. China has been acting as the de-facto manufacturing hub because it had a cost-of-production advantage vis-a-vis other countries. 

However, consumers shifting towards niche-products, political developments, COVID-19,  and the subsequent supply-demand challenges have revealed major problems with how global supply chains function: single source dependencies, inability to deal with unforeseen shocks and changing consumer priorities.  

Supply chains are focussing on agility, sustainability, and innovation to equip themselves for the future.  According to an article by Gartner, these digital supply chain technologies will play a crucial role in moulding supply chains of the future. 

Robotic goods-to-person systems: Robotic  goods-to-person (G2P) systems not only fulfill the social distancing needs of warehousing personnel but also improve productivity and efficiency.   G2P systems usually consist of robots that deliver the goods to a person who remains stationary. Despite being an advanced technology, G2P systems are relatively economical,  and can be customized for any warehouse environment. This technology can eventually lay the groundwork for increased automation and AI implementation.

Real-time transportation visibility: A major sticking point for supply chains is that after goods leave the warehouse, customers cannot track their status in real-time, until they arrive at a specific destination.  Real-time transportation visibility platforms can help resolve this problem.  However, supply-chain technology leaders must ensure that they choose the right technology partners for real-time transportation visibility projects. This visibility can also lead to the identification of key performance areas for more effective supply chain planning.

Supply chain control towers:  Due to the current conditions, organizations want greater  control over supply chains. Which is why, there is a great degree of interest and demand for supply chain control towers. A supply chain control tower offers companies the ability to gather and evaluate real-time data throughout the end-to-end supply chain:Accomplished via cloud based analytics.  A supply chain tower isn’t a physical tower but a centralized repository that consists of the organizational tools, technologies, and processes to gather information in all stages of the supply chain. Its effective implementation can give supply chain technology leaders an edge over their peers. It is no wonder that the interest and demand for supply chain towers is high. 

Advanced analytics and AI: According to Gartner, 50 % of supply chain organizations shall invest in advanced analytics and AI based applications. The pandemic has acted as a catalyst to leverage tools that help them make supply chain decisions faster. Analytics and AI will prepare supply chains for future shocks and unprecedented events better. These tools would also lead to the better identification of supply chain opportunities. The proper implementation of AI and analytics shall lead to a paradigm shift in supply chain resilience and responsiveness. 

Building supply chain resilience

It is imperative that organizations employ a holistic approach towards building future supply chains. In a way, COVID-19 has led to the rapid development and deployment of various key technologies that will shape the future of logistics. This paradigm shift in the approach to the supply chain would also need a change in mindset. 

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