The Uber-ization of the supply chain

The Uber-ization of the supply chain

The typical constraints on the supply chain include shelf space, productive capacity in plants, and finding the right people capable of doing the work when you need them. Yet, as noted in Forbes, Uber overcomes these constraints through reliable supply-demand matching, “Demand need not be created, only sensed. Supply need not be built, only tapped.” In the sharing economy, companies work strategically to find ways to reduce waste and break free of the typical constraints. This idea isn’t exactly new. In 2015 Fortune Magazine featured Flexe, a company that makes a market of spare warehouse space for companies looking for storage capacity but not wanting to build or hold the typical long-term lease. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the benefits offered by Uber-izing the supply chain. SCM World found that between 2014 and 2017 the percentage of supply chain professionals who view the sharing economy as disruptive and important for their industry has grown from 8% to 36%. And 52% of logistics and distribution company respondents call the sharing economy important to their strategies–the highest of any industry group. The Uber-ization of the supply chain will run on cloud services From matching volatile and momentary demand for assets and labor with supply to using manufacturing equipment sensors that assure product quality in Uber-ized manufacturing or with blockchain capabilities that guarantee provenance in sources, SCM World suggests that the possibilities for the logistics industry are limitless.     Accenture claims that the benefits are too great to ignore. From competitive real-time pricing, increased market transparency through cloud-based applications to the exceptional convenience enabled by rapidly emerging...
Green supply chain: it’s good for everyone

Green supply chain: it’s good for everyone

I hear from many colleagues in the supply chain industry who believe that it is not possible to have both a green supply chain and a fast, low cost supply chain. But it is simply not the case. More than ever, adopting green, socially responsible practices can help increase efficiencies and cut costs. In fact, corporate responsibility and green initiatives are becoming the standard of the most competitive global companies. Why go with a green supply chain? Forbes contributor, Paul Martyn’s prediction is that in 2018 sustainability will be the new lean. He believes that more than half of the top 100 multinationals will be doubling down on their sustainability commitments relying on their supply chain professionals as primary drivers. The advantages of going green are numerous including: Reductions in shipping costs and burning less fossil fuels Consolidating and optimizing material and packaging usage means fewer products are consumed When waste is minimized, so too are the costs associated with purchasing and disposal Improved public image for companies as customers are increasingly interested in spending their money with companies that emphasize environmental and social responsibility According to Harvard Business Review, companies with a sustainability agenda are better positioned to anticipate and react to economic, social, environmental, and regulatory changes as they arise\Investing in sustainability is not only a risk management tool, it can drive innovation. Redesigning products to meet environmental standards or social needs offers new businesses opportunities. 3M, for example, integrates sustainability into its innovation pipeline through its “Pollution Prevention Pays” program which aims to proactively minimize waste and avoid pollution through product reformulations, equipment redesign, process modification,...
The rise of virtual logistics and the power of cloud technology

The rise of virtual logistics and the power of cloud technology

Virtual logistics is a trend that is evolving faster than it is being adopted. This will change, and fast as companies see clear cost savings and efficiencies. Cannon Hill identified the virtual logistics team as a top trend for supply chain and logistics industries in 2017. The Internet of Things and cloud-based technology reimagining logistics In its most basic form, virtual logistics envisions remote working and virtual teams that allow companies to access talent globally rather than locally. And since a sizeable percentage of the American workforce is able to work remotely, virtual teams make a lot of sense. Not only do virtual logistics teams cut down on travel expenses and real estate costs, they also allow for more flexible staffing options. While many larger companies are shifting toward virtual logistics in centralized planners, rather than locating them in each distribution center, the trend toward virtual logistics hasn’t gathered momentum in the way many leading experts expected. PwC recently reported in it’s Industry 4.0 study that the logistics industry has been slow to adopt new technology. The percentage of T&L companies that rated themselves as ‘advanced’ on digitization was just 28%. Yet some of the industry’s customers are already well ahead of the curve. 41% of automotive companies and 45% of electronics companies already see themselves as advanced on digitization. Their heads, and their budgets, are in the cloud Much of what we understand about logistics is about to change with the rapid and prolific adoption of cloud technology and the growing demands of clients who want greater speed, efficiency and transparency. Industry leaders such as Amazon, Airbnb and...
What blockchain means for the supply chain and how you can be ready

What blockchain means for the supply chain and how you can be ready

Much like the transition from haul freight by rail to truck, or the emergence of the personal computer, blockchain technology is set to disrupt the way the global supply chain is managed. Blockchain technology, including the idea of a digital shared ledger, has the potential to increase supply chain transparency and revolutionize supply chain auditing. What is blockchain and how is it connected to Bitcoin? Let’s be clear, we are talking about blockchain in this post, which is completely separate from Bitcoin. Blockchain is a distributed way of verifying facts by breaking up sections of code and spreading them all around on the global network. This makes transactions impossible to hack, manipulate or outright fake. One of the ways that blockchain developers have sought to incentivize engagement with the blockchain system is through the creation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Essentially anybody in the world can set up a server and begin crunching highly encrypted data for the network. In return they get a tiny fraction of one cryptocurrency denomination. This is called mining, and it is a way to compensate people around the world who add value to the overall system. Bitcoin, like the thousands of other cryptocurrencies is highly speculative. Blockchain technology, while still being fully developed, is a powerful tool that will lower costs, save time and make the complex business of doing business a whole lot easier. Blockchain is the way business will be done by everyone, eventually Industry giants in tech and shipping such as IBM and Maersk are already deploying blockchain-based shipping systems that will digitize supply chains and track international cargo in...
Tech and logistics: where are the real opportunities?

Tech and logistics: where are the real opportunities?

Lot’s of logistics experts make tech predictions about driverless vehicles, drones for the last mile, robots in the supply chain and more. This type of creativity is important, maybe even essential, to moving the industry forward. Startup companies, 3PL and more have been finding ways for decades to help organizations large and small get business done, while trimming costs and creating efficiencies. To help make sense of the rapid pace of change, we decided to take a quick look at three ways organizations are looking to gain an advantage in their supply chain. And of course, we will give you our advice on the four things that you should really be focused on and how they can still put you miles ahead of the competition, while startups and the Fortune 100 sort out how to  brings mind-blowing tech into the supply chain. Drone tech in the supply chain If you want to fly a drone, you have to immerse yourself in the regulations of your jurisdiction. If you want to fly a network of drones as a business, the laws are even less clear. Good luck with that. You’re not a drone expert, and your customers probably don’t want or need you to Wow them with the latest tech. They want service they can count on, done as cheaply as you can.     For now, Packaging optimization is the proven way to save on supplies, save labor, warehouse space, shipping costs, and most importantly, save money. Driverless vehicle tech in the supply chain The optimism and anticipation related to driverless vehicles makes for captivating reading. But in truth, this...
Innovation in the supply chain: what’s left?

Innovation in the supply chain: what’s left?

I read three statistics recently that, when taken together, gave me some clarity about innovation in the supply chain, and where the stumbling blocks to change most likely are. I’m also more convinced than ever that there is a ton of low hanging fruit that you and your organization can take advantage of. Innovation isn’t held back by the fear of technology 90% Of experts in transport and logistics believe that data is essential for success compared to an average of 83% of experts in other sectors. So belief in the power of artificial intelligence or AI and machine learning is deeply rooted. This is good news, not just for consultants like me and the team at PLS, but also for organizations that want to implement change and are concerned that their managers won’t get onboard. The supply chain hasn’t been optimized…yet Only 28% of transportation and logistics companies rate themselves as advanced in their handling of data, and in their integration with technologies such as AI or IoT. This is a huge opportunity for organizations to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Companies that have cutting-edge tech and expertise that can be applied in this area are going to achieve durable cost-savings and a renewed ability to weather tough economic times. Companies that don’t invest in getting lean, partly through integration of tech, will suffer.     Don’t take my word for it. Look at the investments of the biggest supply chain organizations UPS and Amazon and their partners such as IBM and so much more. Technology and the IoT is more disruptive than you think...