The year 2018 will see a few significant changes for supply chain and logistics professionals. We say with the conviction of specialists ourselves, who keep their attention focused on the signals sent by various industries. At Logistic Packaging, we like to say that the future is in our sight today and we try to deliver it to our customers by tomorrow.
And the future, as we see it now, belongs to those who are friends with the latest technologies or at least prepared to embrace it as soon as possible. We are seeing a new industrial revolution, where machines become smart and talk to each other and people can focus on creative work and strategic business decisions.
Supply Chain and Logistics in the Age of Robots
Faster, safer, cheaper – this is the mantra of all industries when it comes to delivering products to their end customers. We live in an era of smart phones and busy people with an attention and patience span diminishing day by day.
Large warehouses, distribution hubs and international harbors have lost the familiar image of bustling activity, with people moving up and down the aisles, loading and unloading packages. Now they look like the shooting location of a sci-fi movie: quiet robots with precise movements, working in coordination and collaboration. The age of robots is here and it will only push change further at a faster pace.
And these are our top predictions of changes which will happen this year, under our eyes:
1. Internet of Things Takes Over Supply Chain
IoT devices are no longer the novelty in logistics and supply chain – but the norm. Imagine a workforce which never tires, and only needs basic instructions, given once, to perform a series of tasks, pass information between each other and process it without further human input. It is the dream of any production manager and logistics specialist.
And the dream is already being enacted all over the world – at first in large companies. But as the machines become cheaper and the technology easier to customize to different industries, IoT operated factories and warehouses are taking over. You should look into the immense opportunity of working with these smart machines who never need a coffee break.
2. Beating Amazon At Their Own Game
We have already written an article on how Amazon has changed the rules of retail shopping for every player in the industry. However, being the first to promote change does not guarantee staying top dog forever. As wide-reaching as Amazon is, many distributors and retailers are striving to catch up and even leave them behind.
In 2018 the efforts in the supply chain and logistics industries will be even more focused, aided by latest technologies such as augmented reality glasses and IoT devices. As retailers strive to give their customers shorter and friendlier delivery terms, logistics experts and shippers will have to find ways to make it happen. As always, they will certainly succeed.
3. The Future Is in The Cloud
No, you don’t have to look up to the sky, but down at your computer. All the data you store on HDD drives and optical storage devices (CDs and DVDs) is not safe from hackers or from loss by malfunction. Cloud storage and software as a service (SaaS) are the norm for all industries, including supply chain and logistics.
And it is even simpler to communicate with your packaging suppliers and shipping companies, with various user profiles defined in the cloud service, which enable orders to be sent automatically, stock levels and deliveries to be confirmed in real time.
4. Real Time Information Is Not Enough Anymore
What companies need to realize is that knowing what is happening now no longer gives them the competitive edge. Predicting how much their customers will order, how fast the batch of raw materials reaches the production line and how soon the products can be delivered is the true empowering knowledge.
Predictive analytics is what adds the extra mile to competitive supply chain and logistics companies. Through artificial intelligence, machine learning and data visualization, companies can look at the information they have and use it to predict how much business they expect from customers. This is what being ready to serve means in 2018.
5. Innovation Is Still The Best Investment
Investing in research and development becomes more important than ever. Modern technology has the tendency of becoming obsolete and replaced by something better faster than ever before. R&D is the only path towards innovation. Every Euro spent in this field is a solid investment with the highest ROI in the near future.
For supply chain and logistics experts, innovation is not just a competitive advantage: is the basic rule that sets them in motion every morning, keeps them passionate about their work, and successful at it.