Technology continues to hold supply chains in its grasp. AI, machine learning, robotics and control towers are no longer just buzz words, but implemented for enhanced, real-time visibility, predictive analytics, customer satisfaction and more.
With this background, eft partnered with JDA on their annual Global Logistics Report to identify emerging trends that supply chain and logistics industry executives ought top to keep a close eye on.
As supply chains innovate, different types of technologies are embraced in order for organisations to compete successfully in an ever changing environment. The type of technology adopted will not only provide visibility, but also the adaptability necessary in today’s environment. Chief Supply Chain Officers lead this charge and are taking their seats at the C-Level to collaborate across silos and with external partners in order to build today’s supply chain.
With increasing momentum in technology adoption and widespread digitalisation of supply chain operations, the Global Logistics Report reveals how disruptive technologies and digitalisation blend together to create opportunities that will drive long-term supply chain durability.
Digital transformation solves labour challenges in the supply chain
Specifically, the report highlights widespread investment in both visibility and labour, the conjoint of which makes for an interesting convergence of technology in the supply chain space. Not only is AI proving to be an enabler to reduce the need for hands and feet, but it is also allowing for better utilisation of these valued resources.
Interestingly, 72% of respondents in logistics, 66% in retailers/manufacturers/distributors, and 53% in technology, indicate that they have suffered labour-related disruptions to their operations in the past 24 months. Across the board, the overwhelming response to mitigate this exposure is through training and adoption of automation technology.
Crucially though, there is an emphasis on augmenting, not displacing the labour force. As such, in addition to technologies to support supply chain operations, Chief Supply Chain Officers introduce a variety of strategies to improve work force retention. Some of these methods include: flexible working schedules, AI-enabled demand forecasting, and a mobile-friendly user interface for labour scheduling.
Driver shortage and autonomous vehicles
The labour shortage (inclusive of the driver shortage) poses significant current and future challenges to the market, not least in the trucking industry where a lack of drivers and alternate infrastructure increasing pressure on supply chains that are already operating at capacity.
It is here where we expect to see an acceleration in the speed of adoption of AI and autonomous vehicles (constrained only by availability of autonomous vehicle supply). Already many Chief Supply Chain Officers are placing their orders for autonomous vehicles, in turn sparking competition among the manufacturers (Tesla, OTTO and MercedesBenz) who all all raising the stakes in this “futuristic reality.”
Data, visibility and the supply chain
Supply chains have long been drowning in data, but starved for knowledge. However, improvements in data science including the use of AI and automation means enterprise-wide visibility becomes a seamless effort, bringing collaboration, coordination and ultimately the orchestration of supply chains within reach. Interestingly, sixty-five percent of respondents indicate that AI will have its greatest influence in predictive analytics.
For instance, with the changing dynamics of trade lanes, we expect AI/machine learning to play a greater role in defining supply chain networks by optimising routes, reducing empty miles and improving visibility. Beyond this, those with the ability to best leverage extraneous data points such as social, news, events and weather, together with their enterprise data and AI-enhanced forecasting capabilities will occupy the leading positions in any industry vertical.
The Global Logistics Report 2019 serves to provide insight into critical industry trends and benchmarks that will help enable industry stakeholders to effectively navigate their supply chain and logistics challenges. It’s clear that 2019 marks an inflection point for the industry; one where the convergence of labour and technology trends necessitate widespread transformation across the industry.