Supply chain is one of the most important functions for any business in terms of supply of quality raw materials, effective manufacturing process, as well as tracking, transport and storage of the finished goods. Hence, organizations implementing well-designed supply chain practices are able to meet consumer needs in a more efficient and timely manner. It is important to note that changing demand from customers and innovative technologies and strategies also play a role in supply chain management.
But what are the promising supply chain trends that will impact the supply chain in 2019?
The emergence of A.I.
Nowadays, AI is everywhere and its greatest impact is currently being felt across the supply chain. For instance: from anticipating orders to managing deliveries, AI has the possibility to drastically increase efficiency in all areas of the supply chain. According to McKinsey, firms could gain $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion a year from using AI in supply chain and manufacturing.
The question is: what is contributing to these growing supply chain trends? An increasing amount of data isn’t the only trend contributing to the development of AI. Indeed, there are plenty of other key factors driving the trend, including computer power and speed, algorithmic advancements, and increasing AI system access to big data.
Among the various supply chain trends, wearable technology is one of the newest technologies which refers to devices intended to be worn by people. The main feature is that it is combined with cloud technology and hence wearable devices help employees access and input data in real time. Wearable technology allows companies to maintain control of their inventories through proper data collection and analysis. Besides, they can also stay up-to-date with product demand. For example: warehouse managers can use wearables for fast, accurate collection of inventory data, keeping track of manufactured, stored and distributed products. Additionally, wearables can also monitor essential signs so health problems (exhaustion, heart attacks) among the warehouse workers can be prevented.
Renewed Focus on Sustainability
There is continued progress in sustainable supply chains. For instance: more logistics providers that are asset-based, for example, are taking sustainability into account when procuring transportation. Fuel savings is in fact the biggest goal but environmental responsibility is also a growing goal. Various large corporations have made statements about going green since the last few years.
It is a smart business move for companies to implement a more sustainable supply chain. In fact, a 2015 study by Nielson found that 66% of respondents would pay more for a product or a service if the company was committed to positive social and environmental change. It has been predicted that more and more companies are trying to make their supply chains green this year.
Many leading logistics and forwarding companies are adopting technologies that provide visibility throughout the supply chain. The good thing about inventory tracking technology is that it provides instant visibility of the progress of shipments at any point, and instant-quote capabilities allow forwarders to quote shippers on actual market rates much faster than it was previously possible.
Therefore, with the increasing popularity of these services, the bar has been raised, setting a new industry standard that industry players have come to expect when shopping around for logistics services.
More focus on risk management and supply chain resiliency
It is a must for companies to consider supply chain risk management as a way to prepare for undesirable events. Due to the increasing outsourcing practices, off-shoring, product versatility, supply chain security and substantial interdependence throughout the supply chain; the importance of dealing with risks in the supply chain is a major factor to take into account.
Yet, no matter how safe the plan is, it can’t stop things from happening. Hence, this is where supply chain resiliency comes into the picture. The ability of a company is measured by how it tackles disruptive events.
Steps to make the supply chain more flexible and resilient include visibility throughout the supply chain so disruptions can be detected on time, close cooperation with suppliers and distributors. In this way, alternative supply routes can be found, and a good incident response plan to provide a course of action when disruption occurs.
It is essential to follow the latest supply chain trends so as to adjust to the changing market circumstances. In this way, companies are more prepared to respond to client needs, be it customs brokerage, freight forwarding or warehousing. 2019 is around the corner and it is a good time to consider the current supply chain trends in order to develop effective strategies for more productivity and profitability.