The most significant Ways in Which Warehousing is Changing — Part 1Warehousing has undergone a massive shift over the past few years, aligning itself with smart, technologically driven supply chains, but where’s it going next?

Warehousing, for a long time, was seen as the least dynamic and intelligent part of supply chains. However, that’s no longer the case. Modern warehousing is smart warehousing. Moreover, given the escalating demands, which are growing more strict year over year, placed upon supply chains, warehouses have to operate with greater efficiency, speed, and agility than ever before. As such, warehouses have become increasingly technology dependent. And that transformation is only set to continue.

As a recent Supply Chain Digital article points out,

Warehousing and logistics, an industry with complex operations in need of flexible and innovative solutions. Currently within the world of warehousing and logistics, companies are lining up to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon.

This article by Morai Logistics underscores 4 critical ways in which warehousing has changed and will continue to.

Wireless Technology for Real-Time Tracking

One the most important things for the modern day warehouse is having a real-time view of inventory. This is because the demands placed upon supply chains means companies have to continually be monitoring their inventory. Essentially, inventory always has to be ready to go and in the right state to go. With that in mind, it’s crucial to be able to track it. To make sure there’s enough of it and that it’s good condition.

A post by Supply Chain 24/7 highlights one of the more prominent real-time tracking technologies,

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to each inventory item can transmit real-time data to and from the warehouse floor and inventory management applications, allowing warehouse teams to use mobile devices to track inventory from the moment it arrives.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance doesn’t refer to a single kind of technology. Rather, it’s a variety of technologies that contribute to the same thing. That being, proactive maintenance of warehouse machinery. Consequently, instead of waiting for equipment breaking down and causing disruptions in operation, the new way forward is to avoid the breakdowns taking place.

A piece by Internet of Business explains the numerous technologies that can be employed to achieve this,

Today a mix of technologies, including enterprise asset management (EAM), digital twins – exploded 3D representations of objects and their components – sensors, RFID tags, smart supply chains, and AI, is allowing organisations to gain unprecedented insight into the lifecycle of products, components, and even materials.

Robots & Cobots

There are a multitude of tasks that robots are simply better suited for than humans in warehouses. In particular, thoughtless, tedious, repetitive feats of labour. Vitally, not only do robots conduct these tasks with greater efficiency and productivity, they also allow human workers to focus on more important tasks as well as avoid injury. Additionally, the future of warehousing seems to be one where robots don’t even have to replace human workers. Hence, the advent of cobots—collaborative robots. Cobots enable a future where robots work besides and in conjunction with humans, not instead of them.

Sustainability

Lastly, supply chains are increasingly going green. There’s a number of reasons for this, from legislative to ethical. Ultimately, regardless of the reasons, the movement towards sustainability is undeniable. As such, warehousing has to take it into account as well.

The earlier mentioned Supply Chain 24/7 article outlines what sustainable warehouses could look like going forward,

Alternative energy and energy efficiency are no longer optional as warehouse operators bring more automation into the warehouse. Solar panels, LED lighting, cool-roof systems, thermal glass, clerestory windows, and other new green materials and innovations are leading warehouses into a new age.

Top 4 Supply Chain Technology Trends in 2020Supply chains are largely defined by the technology that facilitate them, as such it’s crucial to know the technology trends that are shaping the year.

The demands placed upon companies’ supply chains are greater than ever and they’re only growing. Supply chains are to be faster, cheaper, more flexible, more transparent, more green, and a whole lot more. As such, technology has had to keep abreast of these new requirements. In turn, the amount of new technology being tried out in supply chains is astounding and impossible to cover in its entirety. However, there are a number of technology trends worth keeping track of.

This article by Morai Logistics runs down 4 of the most noteworthy supply chain technology trends to watch out for in 2020.

5G

The advent of 5G received a lot of attention in 2019. However, it’s in 2020 where it’s set to finally start seeing wider adoption. Being the latest generation in wireless technology, 5G means companies will be able to access the internet at speeds several times faster than before. This will have an incredible impact on supply chains. They’ll be able to manage and transfer data at rates far greater than before. And, with data being central to supply chain success, this will go a long way.

This is something that Logistics View Points covered in further depth in a recent article,

5G will impact supply chain and logistics by allowing more data to be transferred more quickly in real-time, in turn making increased visibility throughout the supply chain possible. As more and more devices throughout the supply chain and manufacturing process become part of the “Internet of Things,” they will produce an incredibly rich data stream that will send signals in real-time to trigger a wide variety of events.

With that said, 5G remains in the nascent stages of having the infrastructure to support itself for widespread adoption. Thus, it remains to be seen whether it will take off for supply chains in 2020 or whether it’ll take more time.

Supply Chain Applications

Applications are already in the process of transforming the way in which supply chains are run. That is only set to continue this year. Two of the most important components of a healthy supply chain are visibility and real-time data. Critically, both of these factors are optimized through to use of supply chain apps. They allow everyone along the chain to know what is happening as it’s happening.

Machine Learning for Warehouse Management

The pressures placed upon warehouses are numerous and ever-growing. The e-commerce explosion taking place is changing the way they have to operate. As a consequence, they need to be able to anticipate and prepare for customer demand more precisely than ever before. This is why in 2020 there’s a big opportunity for companies to apply machine learning to their warehouses. Through machine learning, supply chain managers will be able to better predict and respond to demands.

Another Logistics View Point article explains,

Machine learning’s ability to adapt to changing conditions makes it especially well-aligned with the dynamic nature of today’s e-commerce warehouses. Manhattan Associates utilizes machine learning within its WMS to determine the amount of time required to complete a certain task in a given set of circumstances such as historic duration and item characteristics.

Integration Throughout Supply Chains

Due to the complex and multifaceted nature of supply chains, the data within them are susceptible to being silo’d. As data in the different sections of a chain might be collected via separate sources—different tools—the resulting data might become isolated. This, in turn, leads to supply chain managers getting an incomplete view of their operations. This is why 2020 should see further attention being brought to the importance of integrated platforms. Platforms where the totality of operational data can be consolidated, giving managers a unified view of their supply chain.

4 Key Steps to Supply Chain Digital TransformationMore than ever, companies are moving towards digitizing their supply chains—here are 4 steps they have to consider for their supply chain digital transformation.  

The necessity for supply chain digitization has never been more evident. Given the transparency, agility, and efficiency needed in modern day supply chains, it’s hard to get around the fact their operations have to be digital. Moreover, many of the technologies becoming increasingly important to supply chains either require or are bolstered by digitization. Thus, the future supply must be digital.

An article by GlobalTranz explains,

If the vision of Industry 4.0 is to be realized, most enterprise processes must become more digitized … A critical element will be the evolution of traditional supply chains toward a connected, smart, and highly efficient supply chain ecosystem. 

With that said, digital transformation is a considerable endeavour. On top of money and resources, it also requires an entirely new way of operating. As such, digitization, as counterintuitive as it sounds, is every bit as much about non digital factors as it is about digital ones.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights several of the most important factors companies have to contend with if they want their supply chains to have a successful digital transformation.

Remembering the Fundamentals

As important as the innovation that comes with going digital is, it can’t be the only thing supporting a supply chain. Its foundation must remain. Meaning, whatever made the supply chain successful in the first place must remain. In turn, with those fundamentals in place, they can then be further improved by digital assistance. For example, quality control can be further refined by smart sensors. Reliability can be enhanced by forecasting. A healthy digital supply chain should then be a marriage between the old and the new.

A post by McKinsey covers this in further detail,

To be successful in a digital transformation, though, it’s important that your supply chains retain traditional strengths (reliability, predictability, quality) while also allowing for innovation (greater use of automation, quicker responses to changing needs, more transparency across supply chain).

Maintaining Workforce Balance

Just as companies will require a blend of the old and the new in how they operate, the same will apply to their workforce. Not everyone will be technologically proficient and be able to use digital tools. It’s important having people who can make the most of the incredible benefits of digitization. But they aren’t the end all be all. The older supply chain professionals are still required. They have insights and expertise that are going to be timeless. It’s critical for companies not to turn their backs on them once they are digitized.

Promoting Education & Culture

With all that in mind, some aspects of the workforce will require training so that they can adapt to their new work environment. Moreover, the overall mindset of all those across the supply chain will have to transform too. Culture remains arguably the biggest impediment to a successful digital transformation. If companies don’t foster an attitude of innovation, transparency, data-driven processes, and more, their transformation simply won’t sustain itself.

Managing Risks

Finally, it’s crucial that companies remain cognizant of the risks that emerge from going digital. For instance, a transformation can take place without the technological infrastructure to fully support what it’s intended for. Which, in turn, leads to the transformation essentially be caught in stasis until further innovation takes place.

The earlier mentioned McKinsey post emphasizes some other risks that come from transformation,

But probably the most important risks to mitigate are those that can arise from the transformation itself, especially when a transformation loses sync with the technology needed to support it. At one extreme is “pilot purgatory,” in which perfectionism and inflexible processes keep promising ideas from ever reaching scale. At the other, the transformation can end up promising much more than existing technology and practices can deliver.

Going Green - Sustainability in Supply Chains

More than ever, companies are realizing the importance of making sustainability a priority in their supply chains—this is how they’re making that transition. 

Sustainability is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a choice. This isn’t only for regulatory reasons, though avoiding fines and penalties certainly is important to companies. Rather, companies are recognizing that making their supply chains environmentally friendly also has positive results on their reputation and customer satisfaction.

As such, it’s more critical than ever for companies to have a game plan when making their transition towards sustainability. With that said, this game plan needs to be multifaceted and comprehensive but still realistic. Going green doesn’t have to be the monumental task it seems if such a strategy can be enacted.

This ebook goes over the main steps companies are taking to make their supply chains greener and the key considerations that coincide with those measures.

What are Companies doing to ensure that Sustainability is Central to their Supply Chains?

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That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? Interested in our 3rd party logistics services? If so, don’t hesitate to check out our services . We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Omnichannel Supply Chains - What are They and What do They Look Like?

Omnichannel supply chains are the future, yet there remains some confusion surrounding them—just what are they and what characteristics do they display?

The more customer expectations get detailed, varied, and complex, the more companies have to adapt. Omnichannel supply chains are such an adaptation. In the domain of retail, a transition is taking place from exclusively brick-and-mortar stores to both brick-and-mortar and online stores. As such, single channel supply chains are quickly becoming a thing of the past. With that said, what is an omnichannel supply chain exactly and how does it differ from one that is multichannel? Moreover, in practice, what does it look like?

This article by Morai Logistics covers just what an omnichannel supply chain is as well as the most prominent features it displays.

What is a Omnichannel Supply Chain?

Simply put, an omnichannel supply chain is a single supply chain where consumers have more than one option to fulfill their orders. For example, in the case of a pizza shop, they might want to provide two avenues for their customers to purchase their pizzas, online and in person. In turn, their supply chain would have two different considerations for fulfilling orders.

In many ways omnichannel is similar to a multi channel supply chain. However, there’s a key way in which it’s different and thus stands out. An article from River Logic explains:

Although the terms multichannel and omni channel are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences. Multichannel refers to multiple supply chains used to satisfy each type of shopping experience. Each channel is separate. The online catalog is different from items stocked in physical stores, and pricing may differ. Each store has its own stock, often jealously guarded, and the organization’s online store is a separate entity from retail stores. Omni channel supply chains are completely different in that there’s only one supply chain.

So, with the broad strokes of what an omnichannel supply chain is covered, what are some of the most common components that make it up?

Integrated

No dimension of an omnichannel supply chain is more important than operational integration. All its processes need to managed on a single software platform. With the added complexity that comes with having numerous channels, those channels then need to be kept track of. A unified platform that tracks all the data and fulfillment avenues is critical as a result. By extension, digitization is also a must.

No Silos

As a consequence of the necessary integration, ominchannel channel supply chains also tend not have silos. These could be operational silos, data silos, or business silos. The main thing is, just like a modern day supply chain should have visibility throughout its chain, so should an omnichannel. Perhaps more so, due the various channels it has to contend with. With a greater possibility of complication should come a greater need for simple and straightforward oversight.

Flexible & Efficient

Due to the nature of an omnichannel supply chain, it needs to have inventory on the ready, particularly in the case of online orders, at locations nearest to the customer. That means running a supply that is precise with its analytics and forecasting so it can be flexible in meeting the demands placed upon it.

As highlighted in the preciously mentioned River Logic article:

In both instances [retail stores and online], carrying excess stock is costly and inefficient. What’s needed is supply chain agility together with analytics that help determine future demand with some degree of accuracy and an ability to balance conflicting demands while managing distribution costs.

Customer Experience - 4 Ways Supply Chains can Improve .png

Customer experience is on its way to becoming the most important factor in supply chain success—here are 4 ways to improve it. 

Making supply chains as customer-centric as possible is set to become priority number 1 for companies. It’s what makes companies stand out. In turn, it’s what makes customers want to do repeat business with them. As such, companies are focusing on ways to use their supply chains to enhance customer experience.

As covered in a recent Supply Chain Movement article,

Customer experience will soon be the most important factor for a successful supply chain – even more important than low costs, according to six out of ten supply chain professionals. They ranked it as the number one brand differentiator in the coming years, putting it ahead of price and product in a recent global survey.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights 4 of the most critical ways in which companies can improve their customer experience via their supply chains.

Listen to and Study Your Customers

These are certainly obvious considerations. Nonetheless, they’re worth addressing. Customers want and often expect a personalized experience. If companies can provide it to them, they often gain longtime loyal consumers. Fortunately, there’s a fairly straightforward two-pronged approach to meeting this customer requirement.

The first thing companies can do is simply listen to their customers as well as specifically ask for feedback through whatever channels they have available. Secondly, once they have sufficient data on their customers, companies should create multiple buyer personas. These personas should include exactly what these potential buyers would want on their customer journey. This process should be dynamic, adapting to new customers and new expectations.

Eliminate Data Silos

The various teams, processes, and operations within a supply chain should have data flowing freely between them. More than that, all their data being collected should be consolidated and kept in a single, unified platform. The easiest avenue to achieving this is digital transformation. But regardless of how companies do so, they need their all data to be easily accessible and easy to sort through.

As a result of this, companies can then keep up with the functioning of their supply chain on all levels. And, in turn, keep their customers informed as well. This is also helpful in the case of any issues that arise. After all, customers are much more understanding of companies that are proactive in mentioning and addressing their mistakes, as opposed to ones that wait for negative feedback to respond.

Enhance Visibility

If companies want to be able to avoid and fix for impediments within their supply chains, it’s crucial that they have visibility across them. If an order is late or having problems, it’s of the utmost importance that companies be aware of that. Otherwise, orders may never arrive. Thus, companies have to ensure they utilize integrated and transparent supply chain management.

Visibility isn’t only important for the company itself, however. A post by Bringg distinguishes between the two types of visibility needed,

Internally, businesses need to have full visibility over their own fleets, inventory, warehouse and drivers. On the customer end, consumers today want to have full visibility over their delivery – from when it leaves the warehouse, restaurant, or service center until it arrives to their house.

Embrace Data, Analytics, and Machine Learning

Data is a company’s primary resource to transform into top notch customer experience. This is because, through data collection, companies can gain insights into how their various operations are doing through analytics. Which, in turn, can be conveyed to customers or used to mitigate any supply chain breakdowns. Moreover, that gathered data can also be used for machine learning. A function of AI that helps with predicting demand and forecasting.

Supply Chain Technology 2019 - Year in Review Part 2

2019’s over, but there’s plenty of technology to look back on over the course of the year to see what affects it had on supply chains.

The move by companies towards digitization grew more pronounced in 2019. As such, many of the technologies that digital transformation supports grew as well. Part 1 of this review covered several of them, including AI, automation, and IoT.

Christian Titze from Gartner explains,

As companies seek to exploit the benefits of greater levels of digitalization, new and innovative technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning, can potentially and significantly disrupt existing supply chain operating models

Nonetheless, there’s plenty more to cover. Supply chains looked to a number of other technologies to elevate the running of their operations last year.

This article by Morai Logistics underscores many of the most significant developments in supply chain technology in 2019.

Blockchain

Blockchain didn’t have a breakout year in terms of adoption by supply chains by any means. Rather, it was a yer of tentative interest. Blockchain remains a technology in need of maturing. As such, the limitations that plague it like difficulty in supporting scalability remain a problem for it. In spite of that, its many benefits still have companies watching it closely.

A Gartner article expounds on why blockchain grew in prominence in 2019, despite its limitations,

In theory, organizations should know all parties in their supply chain network (within the broader business ecosystem) and trust them — but this is far from today’s reality. Blockchain technologies, as an example, could be an answer to address this problem across three areas — counterfeiting, visibility/traceability and efficiency play.

Robots and Cobots

Robotics only saw an incremental increase or similar rates of adoption in supply chains in 2019. As highlighted in this Supply Chain Dive article,

About 32% of supply chain professionals say they are actively using robotics and automation … This number has gone relatively unchanged since 2016 when 35% of respondents said they were actively using robotics and automation, but anecdotal evidence and market value forecasts show warehouse robotics growing.

With that said, even though robots saw little change, cobots gained some attention. A trend that continued from previous years, as seen in the sharp increase in cobot production numbers. This was probably due to the fact that cobots, by virtue of being robots that collaborate rather than replace human workers, aren’t as disruptive to workplaces. Moreover, not quite as much is expected of them as they aren’t necessarily doing tasks in isolation.

Immersive Technology

Certainly, virtual, augmented and mixed reality are immersive technologies that have been around for quite some time. However, it was in 2019 where companies began to explore their use in their business operations. That includes their supply chains, where they can have considerable benefit in a number of areas, including manufacturing and logistics. One reason for this is because they can help with predictive maintenance, displaying all the relevant data on AR glasses.

Digital Twin

Digital twins are online visualization of an actual system, such as a supply chain. Thus they have proven to be fantastic at creating end-to-end visibility of supply chains. Which in turn enables supply chain managers to have a clear understanding of how their chain is functioning and quickly respond to any issues it might be plaguing it.

All Things Supply Chain’s post further covers why using digital twins gained the traction it did over the past year,

The computer-aided duplicate of things has evolved in many ways: Today, digital twins are not only used for real-time product monitoring, but also for opening up new business areas. Scenario testing and analysis can be used to assess future potential success. In manufacturing, for example, a digital twin can answer all the crucial questions: How much do I produce or am I able to produce? How much capacity do I have? Are my plans still realistic?

The Cloud - Transforming Supply Chains Part 2

The cloud is redefining the way in which supply chains can operate to their tremendous benefit—here’s how. 

The cloud is a technology that at times goes overlooked. It doesn’t quite generate the same attention as some other tech buzzwords like blockchain or AI. Yet, the cloud is the facilitator of supply chain innovation. It is the mechanism through which digital transformation becomes a reality. Without it to pull the many disparate pieces of technology together, companies suffer from knowledge gaps due to data silos.

As such, it’s not an understatement to say that the cloud has transformed the way in which supply chains function. It has served as a kind of master key, liberating companies to have the totality of their data in one place. In turn, allowing all that data to be consolidated, interactive, and be transparently understood.

This ebook covers many of the key features that come with adopting the cloud and how those features bring numerous advantages.

In What ways is the Cloud Changing Supply Chains and What Advantages are They Gaining as a Result?

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That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? Interested in our 3rd party logistics services? If so, don’t hesitate to check out our services . We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Supply Chain Technology 2019 - Year in Review Part 1

With 2019 almost at an end, and technology having been the focus of so much of it, it’s critical to look back at some of the supply chain technology that defined it.

More than ever before the supply chain has become characterized by technology. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, blockchain technology, and much more are all part of the technological advancements driving supply chains forward. 2019 saw all these innovations continue their ascent. And, while not all of these technologies have seen wide scale adoption just yet, it seems to be a matter of when rather than if.

An article by All Things Supply Chain further delves into this supply chain trend,

In the globalization era, the supply chain is more diverse than ever before. Every day new technical innovations offer the opportunity to reduce this complexity. Gartner vice president David Cearley describes this development as an “intelligent digital mesh” that “will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere”. These circumstances are transforming the supply chain from a technology-enabled procedure to a technology-centric one.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights some of the most prominent developments in supply chain technology in 2019.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Perhaps the most significant technology in the supply chain space, artificial intelligence had a big year in 2019. Being responsible for machine learning, several smart devices, and the driver of automation, AI is the linchpin to numerous critical innovations. What AI in 2019 showed is that it is entirely capable of taking on numerous human tasks and operations. Analyzing data, making models, predictions, and forecasting with it, route optimization, personalizing customer service are just a few things AI showed that it’s capable doing for companies over the previous year.

Analytics

If AI is the linchpin to a variety of technology, data is the life force for it. In turn, it’s through analytics that that life force can best be utilized and understood. Although analytics have been around for a while, they are growing more advanced. 2019 saw these advanced analytics grow a great deal more prominent.

A post by Gartner on the technology trends of 2019 explains,

Advanced analytics are increasingly being deployed in real time or near-real time in areas such as dynamic pricing, product quality testing and dynamic replenishment. The availability of supply chain data — such as Internet of Things (IoT) data, dynamic sales data and weather patterns — provides the ability to extrapolate the current environment to better understand future scenarios and make profitable recommendations.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The previously mentioned article by All Things Supply Chain addresses the impact IoT is set to have on supply chains,

 In the future, the number of networked devices will increase enormously, thus boosting efficiency and productivity in supply chain. Gartner estimates the number of networked devices will be 25 billion in 2021. In the future supply chain, for example, these could be smart sensors on manufacturing floors in order to efficiently manage planned and predictive maintenance work. These sensors could also be used to closely monitor and track stock and the entire inventory. Not only does this save a lot of manpower, but it also allows you to optimally plan your future production.

However, while 2019 didn’t quite reach those heights for IoT, it certainly further cemented its place in the supply chain. Adoption rates of IoT technology increased a great deal. As the year brought with it a greater focus on providing an end-to-end experience, companies began utilized IoT to help deliver that experience. And, as the above article displays, IoT adoption will only increase going forward.

Automation

Lastly, automation carried on expanding its presence in supply chain operations. Supply chains involve many tedious and repetitive tasks. Automation has allowed those tasks to be handled by machines like robots and drones. However, what 2019 showed is that automation doesn’t only mean a loss of human labour. It also means better human labour and supplemented human labour. Automation allowed workers to focus on more meaningful work in supply chains.. Not only that, but it also gave workers assistance with some of the more labour intensive tasks.

2020 Predictions - Supply Chain TechnologyAs 2020 fast approaches, it’s worthwhile looking ahead to where supply chains are set to go in the coming year, particularly with respect to the technology that bolsters them.

Companies successfully adopting the latest and greatest technology has really become central to supply chains performing well. As such, the past year has seen companies move towards digital transformation. This is because digitization is the main mechanism through which companies can integrate the technologies they need.

As a 2020 predictions report from IDC states,

Digital transformation is now the overriding priority for most manufacturers and retailers, with the adoption of digital technologies aimed to improving efficiency and effectiveness in the shorter term while providing the opportunity to either disrupt their market segment or be resilient to others that may try.

Having said that, most companies are now in some state of digital transformation. Thus, the question then becomes what technology will they look to to best optimize their supply chains? Rather than something wholly new, it’s likely that the next year will simply see supply chains embrace more of the same, just to different degrees.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights technological developments set to take place in the coming year.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Become Even More Prominent

With more and more data being gathered by supply chains, it’s becoming increasingly important to utilize that data precisely. This is where AI and machine learning algorithms will come into play. By having sufficient data, machine learning can distinguish the quality data from the junk. In turn, it can use that quality data for a number supply chain functions. Key among those functions being forecasting and planning. But they are just two amongst many.

A Finance Online post further explains the importance of AI and machine learning,

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also play an essential role in making supply chains more efficient. The technology can be used to automate procedures using algorithms based on data from previous processes. Automation makes supply chains more efficient by eliminating human errors. AI also can identify patterns in the supply chain, and companies can leverage this technology to predict purchasing demands and manage inventory. This takes the guesswork out of planning and procurement, eliminating the need for planners to do the same calculations over and over.

Blockchain Adoption and Belief Will Come Gradually

Blockchain technology has gained a great deal of attention in recent years. In the past year though, some of that attention has turned sour. A great deal of skepticism has arisen regarding a variety of its limitations. At the same time, the technology has finally made some strides.

TradeLens, in particular, has elevated itself into being the largest blockchain platform available for shippers. Nevertheless, it will take some time before blockchain is trusted and adopted en masse. Until then, as will be the case in 2020, the technology will experience slow and steady progress.

Robots Will Work With (Rather Than Replace) Human Workers

Robots are an emerging presence in supply chains. As a result of this, many workers in the space have grown concerned about the likelihood of robots replacing them. While some degree of displacement seems inevitable, much of the worry is overblown. 2020 will see humans working alongside robots in supply chains. And, in many ways, this will liberate human workers.

A recent Supply Chain Digital article expands on this,

Machine learning algorithms will handle boring, repetitive tasks like data hygiene and number crunching that planners with domain experience will use to make decisions. In our customer base, technology automation hasn’t replaced humans but elevated the roles of chronically overstrained planners, allowing them to focus on work that creates the most value.