Top 5 Supply Chain Trends for 2017 and Beyond

Let’s dive right into the 5 top trends reshaping the modern Supply Chain industry. With technology moving forward at an incredible pace, businesses have a hard time keeping up. Learning about the top trends that will have a direct impact on any businesses supply chain will help individuals gain a better understanding of what the future may hold. Having insight into the future can help a business begin to improve today.

1. Robotics in the Warehouse
Automation continues to play a larger role in business, from the manufacturing industry to the supply chain, robots are making a difference. The world has had a complicated relationship with robots in the workplace ever since their inception. Fearing the day when robots take all the jobs is a concern that’s quickly fading, but those in the supply chain are still curious how it will impact their business operations.

Robots are making warehouses run smoother and more efficiently. Amazon, one of the largest e-commerce giants in the world is utilizing robots to help improve fulfillment speed and accuracy. Follow the link below to see Chuck the robot and get a glimpse into the future of warehouse management.

AirFreight.bid Original Story

Nearly every link throughout the supply chain is using some form of an automated system. Whether it's a robot or piece of software, this technology helps speed up operations while maintaining accuracy. If supply chain managers can save a few days in transit by implementing and utilizing automated systems, it could have a profound impact downstream.

2. Agile Supply Chain Software
Businesses, large and small are always searching for the next new service to help create the most agile supply chain possible. Many small businesses won’t have dedicated supply chain managers; therefore, the responsibility falls on someone already performing a duty. Furthermore, when it comes to big business, a small disruption in a supply network could lead to a considerable amount of money being left on the table or wasted altogether. Systems that promise to create a seamless and agile supply chain attract independent and multinational firms who demand a better solution.

For example, we take a look at AirFreight.bid. This innovative platform and marketplace connects air freight shippers with air cargo carriers. The shipper can receive instant rates and spot quotes from a multitude of vetted carriers aligned to specific geographies and cargo types. Rates and transit times can easily be analyzed and compared, all of this relevant data is accessible in one cloud based system. With a few clicks, the AirFreight.bid user can substantially reduce the time needed to utilize air freight as a mode of transportation and in many cases, lower their air freight spend. Having these capabilities can come in handy if and when there is a major supply chain disruption that needs to be addressed immediately.

3. Autonomous Vehicles
Autonomous vehicles are the next step in transportation. Removing the chance for human error and creating an easier way to estimate delivery time, there is a host of benefits to a truck, plane or train that can control itself. Many of these systems are developing, and some have even made it on the road. When looking at Otto, the startup providing the tools and technology to outfit a standard semi-truck with autonomous driving capabilities; the world gets a glimpse into the future.

As of now, humans are still a requirement in these autonomous vehicles. They provide a failsafe as well as the ability to ensure the computer and technology are working properly. Human operators can be seen as a benefit as it will not take jobs away from truckers and has the potential to entice more individuals to join the workforce to offset the driver shortage currently taking place throughout the industry.

4. Cyber Security
Recently, cyber attacks on supply networks have become all too common. Supply chains are feeling the slowdown as ports and other transit centers are forced to halt operations and deal with these threats. Recently, Maersk Line was unable to take any bookings because of the Petya ransomware cyber attack, being touted as “shipping’s Y2K moment”.

This specific example shut down all IT and communication networks for an extended period and the cost to the business and each entity it affected could be astronomical. Unfortunate events such as this highlight the importance of a sound cyber security strategy and proves that this must be a focus for any modern supply chain.

5. Big Data & Analytics
A topic that has been impossible to avoid is discussions surrounding Big Data and Analytics. Businesses are leveraging the immense amount of data they receive on a daily basis to make actionable decisions to improve their operations. A modern supply chain can have countless data points and big data coupled with advanced analytics systems could have a positive impact on any business.

As big data and supporting analytics systems become more capable and accurate; the supply chain stands to gain. Actionable, real-time updates on the entire supply network could make supply chain managers lives easier while also allowing them to provide more value to their clients.

It won’t be just one or two of these technologies that will revolutionize the future of the supply chain. The combination of all these new digital systems and techniques will be the primary driver in the modern, digital supply chain transformation. Understanding what role each of them will play will be critical in order to remain competitive in the shifting business environment.

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