Supply chain management is constantly evolving with the aim of improving service levels through increased efficiency and effectiveness. In 2016, some of the technology trends attracted a lot of international interests. We had innovations like self-driving vehicles, drone deliveries, 3D printing and increased automation and robotics. However, these are certainly not trends we will focus on in 2017.
Supply chain trends will continue to be driven by the need to meet customer expectations while also improving management and control costs. As a result, priorities for supply chain executives this year will include:
Technology and automation
While there is significant focus and advances being made in the use of technology to facilitate supply chain efficiency, in South Africa there is the additional challenge that comes up of balancing the level of automation with labour. A balance of the two can help provide improvements in accuracy and efficiency in picking and load planning as well as planning. It can also be useful when supporting and training less skilled logistics staff.
In 2017, it will be very crucial to invest wisely in technology to ensure a good return.
Ongoing e-commerce challenges
The rate of growth of online retail is set to continue. This will place pressure on businesses to meet growing expectation of online shoppers for prompt, on-time delivery of purchases.
Couriers and distribution service providers will have to be more efficient while under pressure to be cost competitive. More sophisticated and warehousing solutions will be required to meet the accuracy and timelines demanded by an online business. Such may lead to outsourcing of e-commerce warehousing to specialist service providers. Supplier/partner integration will be a key success factor as well as accurate tracking and delivery status communication to the customer.
Supply chain analytics
Organisations will work to improve control and visibility of the extended supply chain and this will increase the use of supply chain analytics and business intelligence. Awareness of the supply chain as a strategic business lever will continue to grow while supply chain event management and measurement will provide the support to make this happen.
Additionally, reporting that is accurate and being able to analyse reports will allow business to identify poor performing partners, highlight inefficiencies and weak links in the chain, It will also identify opportunities for efficiency improvement, increase collaboration, as well as better supply chain cost management.
Skills and resources
It’s been reported that 45% of South African chain supply managers believe that they do not have the skills to do their job properly. Further research suggests that those who don’t have strong quantitative abilities often lack equally important interpersonal and leadership skills.
Finding and keeping skilled supply chain staff as well as managers will continue to be challenging. Organisations will have to invest in training at all levels to attain skills necessary to ensure the sustainability of their supply chains.
What other trends do you think we can expect to see in 2017 concerning the supply chain field?
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