What are the major supply chain developments this year?
New technologies keep changing consumer’s demand and requirements at the time of purchase. Today, the amount of available real-time data is greater than ever. As a result, supply chain is directly impacted and must continually adapt to the ongoing changes. However, if anything, this year has proved to us that the digital transformation of the supply chain is advancing.
According to the recent study by Capgemini Consulting, 70% of company executives have already started implementing a digital transformation of their supply chain. However only 5% confirmed to be satisfied with the results. Most identified: cloud, data analytics tools, IoT, machine learning, 3D printing among key technologies used to achieve positive changes. But let’s have a closer look…
Cloud computing has been promoted since the 2000s. Today many businesses regard it as a major asset to their supply chain. Cloud allows us access into dynamic and connected ecosystem where our colleagues, partners, customers, carriers and logistics providers can interact. Seeing that the data is updated in real-time it offers end-to-end visibility, helps to increase efficiency and flexibility and thus improves the overall performance of the supply chain.
According to Gartner’s research, in the next 5 years 3D printing will emerge from niche applications and will reach mass market. A research and advisory giant believes that the next few years will see a significant growth, from 222,000 units in 2015 to 6.7 million 3D printers in 2020. By the end of 2016 the sales should more than double from the previous year, reaching nearly 456,000. Are we onto a revolutionary 3D printer? If so, the expectations of supply chain community will be high: reduced costs and lead times, increased responsiveness and flexibility, transformed customer service and experience as well as higher revenue.
Many are anticipating a completely revolutionised way of delivering goods – drones. Amazon is pioneering this the movement and in December 2016 the company used its drone to deliver in 13 minutes a 2kg package in Cambridge. As revolutionary as it is, the drones are still limited by the weight of the package, energy level and above all regulatory limits in the airspace circulation. The businesses, however, are concentrating on the numerous advantageous of using drones: they are easy to handle, can be used for site monitoring, warehouse management etc.
Last but not least is the big data. Controlling the supply chain involves controlling an increasingly large flows of information. Analysing the data is by no means a new practice, but in recent years big data has become an increasing challenge for most businesses, specifically affecting those in the supply chain sector.
There is no doubt that understanding the data is beneficial on many levels, it offers a better calculation of customer’s short and long term needs, an increase in efficiency and performance of the supply chain as well as a better analysis of a supplier’s performance.
Implementing big data analysis is a lengthy process that also requires the use of new resources to analyse, filter and store it but which significantly improves the performance of the supply chain.
Despite the challenges, leading organisations are implementing the above changes, that help them reach new waves of productivity and enable collaboration across the entire organisation. Implementing these new technologies isn’t easy. However, until we can optimise our supply chain once and for all in one easy step, recognising the need to embrace them will drive the forward-looking businesses towards success.