Once upon a time, a supplier would probably be someone local; perhaps a horse or car ride away.Today it is not that easy. Most suppliers are part of a global networks.
The benefits of a global network include new and cheaper materials, but there are also challenges. Extreme weather, political instability, and international financing require supply chain professionals to broaden their thinking to manage supply chain challenges more effectively than their competition.
When looking at supply chain management, one can see a variety of trends such as the importance of making decisions culled from big data, using artificial intelligence, and the necessity of agile inventory management. This blog focuses on five additional trends that are currently re-shaping the way companies think about their supply chain: sustainability, globalization, collaboration, risk management, and automation.
More companies are adopting green policies and procedures that allow them to simultaneously remain competitive while reducing their carbon footprint. Pollution, toxic waste, and resource depletion are just a few of the complex challenges facing businesses which prioritize sustainability and the environment. These companies demand logistics and supply chain companies implement technological solutions that serve to minimize the ecological impact of moving goods.
Changes in foreign and domestic trade policy, coupled with advancements in technology and transportation, have led to a globalized economy. Now companies can do business in both established and developing countries, have access to cheaper raw materials, and work with people, business, and governments of other nations. The forward motion of globalization continues to have a direct and mostly beneficial impact on supply chain operations.
Supply chain collaboration is defined as two or more independent companies working in partnership to achieve more surplus in order to maintain the operations necessary to meet common goals. Examples of these common goals are: product design, implementing lean manufacturing, and supply chain-wide communication. Companies can create a competitive edge by collaborating and building trust. When companies trust one another they can work together to find new and innovative ways to make a supply chain more lean, efficient, and sustainable.
4. Risk Management
It does not take more than a quick Google search to locate the top supply chain disasters of the 20th century. GM, Adidas, Toys R Us, and Nike all fell victim to detrimental supply chain decisions and circumstances that were often beyond anyone’s control. A supply chain company without due diligence regarding risk management and mitigation, is playing a very dangerous game. Rich Becks, General Manager of Industry Value Chains, explains that highly resilient supply chains must have multi-tier visibility, real-time collaboration, and a flexible response plan in order to recognize and respond to risk in efficient and comprehensive ways.
5. Warehouse Automation
E-commerce has been a game-changer for the supply chain and logistics industry. Successful companies understand that in order to keep up with consumer and business-to-business demand, they must be creative, innovative, and efficient. One way to do this is through automating part or all of the processes in the warehouse. Automated storage and retrieval systems are one answer to the question of how companies can reduce their overall operating and order-fulfillment costs.
Sustainability, globalization, collaboration, risk management, and warehouse automation are just a few of the current trends in the supply chain industry. Companies who keep an eye on supply chain trends are in a position to be on the cutting edge of innovative best supply chain practices.