Industry Trends
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5 Key Supply Chain Technology Trends To Watch In 2021

Global supply chains are evolving now and are at a critical inflection point of changing to more flexible and interconnected models, forming new goals, and finding new approaches. As the pandemic has shed a light on many ongoing issues within the global supply chains, there is a need to upgrade and level up the processes and operations. Technology can be a practical and powerful tool to support more cost effective help optimize supply chains and support efficient daily supply chain processes. 

Organizations can now easily utilize practical  technology to enhance their supply chain management and business performance. With proper data collection and centralization, technology like AI, ML, and robotics can help increase supply chain efficiencies and build more reactive future processes. . 

Top Supply Chain Trends in 2021

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AI and Machine Learning

In recent years, data science has become the new gold standard for many industries, and the supply chain sector is no exception. A multitude of disparate technology systems from different supply chain stakeholders and an increase in connected devices generate massive amounts of data. In logistics, having access to more centralized data means the ability to make better decisions and have a clear understanding of what’s happening across your entire supply chain. 

So far, so good; but collecting, consolidating, filtering, and extracting valuable insights from large amounts of historical and real-time data isn’t easy. AI and machine learning algorithms help detect patterns and gaps across a company’s supply chain, as well as produce highly accurate forecasts for the business. After implementing AI in their supply chains, 61% of executives reported reduced costs and 53% stated increased revenues. The market of AI-enabled supply chain solutions is growing and is set to reach $10.1 billion by 2025.

Autonomous Vehicles

Self-driving trucks have been an industry buzzword for quite a long time. Despite giant companies investing billions in autonomous vehicle startups, it will still be a while before they become a common feature on roads. It’s more likely that these vehicles will serve a limited number of interested customers, and become more widely adopted further down the line. Growing issues like driver shortage and sustainability concerns will keep driving the autonomous market forward. 

Robotic Automation & Smart Warehouses

Due to accelerated digitalization, supply chains across the world are being pressed with a need for more efficient order fulfillment processes and improved utilization of  warehouse space. Inventory discrepancies are becoming more costly by the day , with businesses focusing on bringing automation to their warehouse facilities to address these challenges 

Deploying smart systems and robotic automation can significantly cut manual operations, mitigate risks due to human error, reduce labor costs, increase warehouse functionality, and improve the product arrival and delivery process.

Collaborative robots and similar devices are also receiving  a lot of recognition in the area of warehouse automation. In fact, the worldwide sales of robots for logistics management are projected to  reach $22.4 billion by 2021. Retail giants like Amazon are actively using new  robots alongside their staff to ramp up operational performance. According to the Deloitte 2019 Annual Industry Report, more than 32% of supply chain executives are actively using robotic technology for warehouse automation.

IoT Connectivity 

A couple of years ago, the Internet of Things passed the hype stage and became a common technology in the industry. The key driver of IoT adoption is an increased need for more accurate and real-time data. 

Gartner’s 2019 Supply Chain Survey reports that 59% of participants had partially or fully used IoT across the company’s supply chain. Gathering more data through connected devices lets companies uncover new trends and tendencies, and make better business decisions. 

Cybersecurity

The data security of supply chains has been an industry concern for a while. Smart devices, temperature control sensors, robotics, ELDs, IoT-connected vehicles, and smart spaces all create interconnected supply chain networks. This complex environment has become a target for cyberattacks, which in recent years have resulted in devastating consequences. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were migrating to the cloud and intensifying digitalization. Because of this, supply chain cyber attacks became unusually common

Regardless of whose information is being exposed, it drives devastating results for software providers and supply chain executives, as well as their business partners, often resulting in massive monetary losses. In September 2020, the French shipping company CMA CGM reportedly lost $50 million in a ransomware attack that occurred in one of their shipping subsidiaries. 

What’s Next?

Despite the widespread adoption of modern technology, many processes across supply chains are still managed manually with much reliance on dated devices and systems. A new challenge for the industry is to consolidate all the disparate systems into one integrated environment to best sustain current supply chain needs. 

At Agistix, we highly support all innovation, including IoT, autonomous vehicles, and algorithm-based technologies. These technologies help enhance data quality and timeliness, but come with a challenge: a growing number of disparate data sources.
Companies still need a centralized platform to connect, automate and correlate information sources to centralize data. Only after all the systems are integrated is it possible to properly leverage data analytics with the help of deep learning and AI. Learn more about Agistix supply chain solutions here.

Author

Trevor Read

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