Supply Chain Planning Trends
Trends for supply chains are shifting rapidly on a global scale. This year, these shifts are going to coalesce around a few specific themes.
Increased Partnerships and Collaborations
It used to be that supply chain logistics could either be handled largely by just one provider or else they could be accomplished by a few companies that had only the smallest amount of communication between them. This is no longer the case as much. In 2016, we have much more integration in terms of getting supplies from manufacturer to customer through your company.
Part of the reason for this is because of advances in mobile technology and information technology. It’s now going to be much more common to use shared supply chains, both on a single line and among several companies. After all, if one of the links in a supply chain has extra warehouse capacity, they are going to want to use this capacity in some way whereas now they are currently losing it along the chain.
This trend means considerable overhead reduction due to the partnerships with third parties. Asset heavy companies will be able to acquire new revenue streams as a result of the increase in collaborations along the supply chain as well.
Loosened Information Restrictions Between Businesses
In the past, it’s been common for businesses to restrict the flow of information between themselves and other parties in order to keep as much of an advantage as humanly possible. This is changing and it will continue to change this year. The reason for this is that big data analytics is exploding in terms of technological advancement.
In other words, the more information you have about your inventory, your supply chain, the patterns of your customers and anything even tangentially connected to these data points, the better off you’ll be when it comes to maximizing your bottom line. This is partly because the more data analysis you’re able to do, the fewer mistakes you’ll make in terms of inventory forecasting.
This means that it’s actually in the best interest of yourself and of other interests to make sure that you share data. The trend towards more and more effective data analysis is inevitable at this point, and share data sets are only going to become more powerful in the future. It’s not always a zero sum game out there, and sharing data could be especially useful I the case of those that are not direct competitors.
Decentralization of Inventory
It’s increasingly becoming the case that consumers wish to get goods delivered to them directly rather than going out to some other location that’s far away. This is also becoming the case for clients and suppliers are moving to adapt. As a result, you’re going to see more and more fulfillment practices in the coming year that have an “omnichannel” bent.
It won’t be long until retail stores aren’t doing much beyond serving as showrooms for the greater company that ships goods to consumers of all varieties. Decentralization and omnipresent approaches are soon to be the only games in town. This is why it’s going to be so important to have abilities such as real-time tracking of inventory in order to keep track of where everything is and where it’s going.
Goods aren’t likely to sit in just one place before going to one other place anymore. Flexibility is going to be paramount in the coming year. If you’re a retailer or a company that works closely with a retailer, adapting to the new environment to be lighter and more agile will be of paramount importance. This is because if you fail to do this, companies that have few assets and merely use the storage facilities and other capabilities of those along the supply chain will bury you.
A Reversal of Outsourcing
Outsourcing might have been the way of many industries for many years, but there is definitely a trend away from it among many people interested in inventory. The term “nearshoring” has even been coined to describe this phenomenon. The idea is that the costs of work are on the rise, but so is technology and automated systems. This means that it makes more sense to have the product be created closer to the user instead of further away, which is what would happen with outsourcing.
Many are worried about the interception of products along the supply chain too in terms of losing complete control over the proprietary data. If you shorten the supply chain and keep everything closer to home, then the idea is that you can better protect your proprietary data and keep your costs down at the same time.
Starting in 2016, and for the foreseeable future, technological turnover is going to be an important factor in the field of supply chains. Older systems are going to be switched out for newer systems that use much smarter technology. One of the forms this is going to take will include technologies that give you full capabilities in terms of switching electronic communication between one format and another.
That way, the supply chain can go uninterrupted between suppliers and clients. This type of technological edge-smoothing will greatly enhance the efficiency of the whole paradigm. But in order for it to work, it will have to be inserted into older systems.
This means changing those old systems significantly in some cases in order to allow for the translation devices. As a result, those who have a stake in any aspect of supply chain logistics should look to make their systems fully compliant in this way. You don’t want to be a weak leak in the chain, and if you’re closer to the end-user side of the chain, you want to make sure you go with supply chains that institute these systems in order to take full advantage of the savings in cost.
Green Supply Trends
Awareness of sustainability is at an all-time high worldwide. The population continues to rise precipitously, and many are concerned that food and energy aren’t keeping pace and instead are rising in cost as well. What all this means for supply chains is that it’s going to be important to show consumers that you’re making use of smart systems like automated inventory adding through RFID tags, and various supply chain and inventory forecasting software in order to be more efficient and not misuse energy.
This also includes using renewable energy sources for as much of your operation as possible and reducing how much dangerous waste your operation produces as much as you can. It’s important to try to keep a positive reputation in the eyes of your customers if you can, and this is exactly what running a greener operation will do in the long run. There are many options out there for having greener processes, regardless of what your business looks like.
For example, if you are largely tech and digital based, there are many hosting services that run their servers off of wind energy only without using any fossil fuels.
Overall, following the most modern supply chain planning for the new year will ensure that your company maintains a supply chain that is efficient and endowed with the best reputation among your customers as possible.
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