Take a look inside our annual Supply Chain Management Resource Guide — where we offer expert insight into industry trends, wisdom, innovative thinking and, of course, tools across a broad spectrum of verticals.
Forecasts indicate slower growth for global trade this year, but there are opportunities for shippers and providers of logistics and transportation services — especially in emerging countries such as Vietnam, India and the Philippines.
Analyst Insight: The growth of e-commerce, coupled with continuing evolution of the supply chain, has made moving dangerous goods in a safe and compliant manner more important than ever. Unfortunately, several key gaps exist within many organizations’ processes and infrastructure that make maintaining a reliable hazmat supply chain challenging, and put their operational efficiency, reputation and bottom line at risk.
Analyst Insight: Construction projects are filled with certain risks, ranging from occupational risk to construction defects and property damage to general liability. Many firms have difficulty managing these risks on an ongoing basis, and others find measuring a project’s overall risk performance impossible. Using technology to manage risk is key to mitigating any issues that might arise.
Analyst Insight: The wildly successful social media campaign for Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich — which quickly led to critical supply shortages for the company — is a cautionary tale about the havoc that social media can wreak on supply chains. To avoid squandering opportunities afforded by unprecedented demand, supply chains need to run like well-oiled machines, with collaborative sales and operations planning (S&OP), a finger on the pulse of social media sentiment, best-practice scenario planning, and rock-solid supplier relationships.
Analyst Insight: Five years ago, having a variety of channels and capabilities across your network was a competitive advantage. But as consumer expectations change, more companies are beginning to question the value of the investments required to build and support certain fulfillment capabilities. Today, supply-chain executives must create a seamless experience for omnichannel consumers, while walking the razor’s edge of balancing tradeoffs between cost and service.
Analyst Insight: To address changing patient and market needs, pharmaceutical companies are expanding their product portfolios to include specialized and even individualized drugs. Precise, real-time control is indispensable to avoiding quality issues during the production or shipment of these smaller-batch items. To support this growing trend, systems of the extended supply chain need to be integrated to provide synchronization and process visibility.
Analyst Insight: With fierce global competition and changing regulations in the food and beverage industry, the speed at which enterprises can react and adapt is imperative to their success. Digital solutions that provide supply-chain visibility from field to factory, distributor and customer have disruptive potential. These solutions generate a tremendous amount of data that can be harvested and used to optimize processes, identify risks, and improve quality in real time.
Analyst Insight: Every change-management consultant knows that effective transformation within a business requires a combination of people, processes, and technology. Global conditions, regulatory concerns, sustainability efforts, and the need to differentiate based on customer service instead of just price are major drivers for the chemical industry to digitally transform itself.
Analyst Insight: A quiet revolution is taking place within one of the slowest industries to embrace radical new technology. Until now, the construction industry has had one of the worst records for productivity, quality and predictability. Meanwhile, manufacturing sectors such as automotive, aerospace and discrete manufacturing have long been using modern techniques such as interchangeability of component parts, “right first time” for quality, and just in time for supply-chain integration.
For years, freight forwarding companies have handled shipment bookings, rate comparisons and tracking services that are now offered by most online marketplaces. Where does that leave the middlemen of the freight world?
Analyst Insight: Data is important to businesses in formulating strategies, streamlining operations, introducing new products and services, and ensuring customer satisfaction. But data alone isn’t much good unless it’s analyzed, understood and acted upon. Data analysis is benefiting from new technology tools by allowing analysts to dig more deeply into supply chains. At the same time, human judgment remains the most important element in analysis.
Analyst Insight: In recent years, supply-chain control towers have become an omnipresent panacea for organizational challenges. Many companies have rushed to join the control tower frenzy, only to have the solution fall short of expectations. Success with control tower solutions rests with having a clear purpose for the solution, selecting the proper technology as the basis of the tool, and properly integrating with existing systems and data to ensure smooth execution.
Former retail chain Service Merchandise nailed fulfillment and omni-channel in the 1980s with its innovative showroom-catalog approach. These three strategic approaches put the company ahead of its time.
Analyst Insight: Many supply chains experience inefficiencies in receiving materials, and the construction sector is no exception. By optimizing demand forecasting, inventory management, and the setting of order cycles and quantities, and by increasing the level of automation in routine areas of replenishment, teams can focus their expertise on areas that require closer attention.
Analyst Insight: The construction industry is one of the least-digitized industries in the world, but times are changing. Leading firms are adding cloud-based technologies to improve collaboration between suppliers, haulers, and contractors, and to increase visibility within supply-chain processes, gaining greater efficiencies and productivity.
Analyst Insight: Never have tariffs held such a prominent place in the day-to-day global operations of businesses. The current U.S. administration has levied millions of dollars of tariffs on U.S. businesses, regardless of size. As a result, any company that imports or exports is experiencing increased costs to make, move or sell their products. And companies are making significant investments in their global supply chains to mitigate the collateral damage that the trade wars are wreaking.
Analyst Insight: Eighty-three percent of participants in APQC’s quick poll research report that their supply chains are undergoing digital transformation. Yet despite the widespread embrace of this major organizational change, digital transformation in many supply chains suffers from the lack of a consistent definition and overarching strategy. As a result, rather than realizing the strategic integration of multiple technologies, too many organizations are solving discrete business problems with one-off digital solutions.
Analyst Insight: The shipping and handling of lithium batteries has become a highly challenging and regulated endeavor. Given the fire risk associated with this hazardous material, heavy restrictions on transport and storage, from commercial aircraft bans to state-of-charge rules, have been imposed. As a result, organizations often struggle to cope with the impact of these requirements on the supply chain, and find a safe, compliant and cost-effective approach to packaging these materials.