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Lessons from Covid-19: Factors impacting the future of supply chain and logistics

The evolving supply chain processes are being enhanced by technology-driven automation. While reducing the operating costs, the aim of such smart technology-driven solutions is to increase efficiency and drive unprecedented results.


Owing to the growing difficulties in delivering large volumes of goods and services in the current situation of Covid-19 and the country under lockdown, the supply chain process is seeing a rapid transformation. Businesses that managed to have an efficient supply chain system in terms of access and availability of quality raw materials, manufacturing process, transport and tracking as well as inventory, have gained a formidable reputation that is translating into customer loyalty and which will further lead to not only an enhanced topline but also bottomline.


With this, it is important to take into consideration the various factors that can impact the supply chain processes in the future.


Digitisation

Redesign of logistics in relation to latest technological solutions, and physical and digital assets of the business. Digitisation can further catalyse the processes of supply chain which can help increase customer satisfaction, thus contributing to more revenue. With digitisation, businesses can enhance market valuation as well.

With Internet of Things (IoT), technologies are constantly evolving. IoT would indeed enable monitoring of warehouse stock, inventory, reduce dead mileage and optimise fleet routes.


Collaboration

Supply chain process should consider stronger relationships with suppliers and stronger procurement practices. For example, the business data on suppliers can be used to enhance supply chain decisions like best business partner recommendations and supplier evaluation. Risks can be assessed based on the political and global climate. This can help prevent stock shortages. Collaboration can also help reduce over-utilisation of resources and streamline internal processes. Satisfied business partners may generate referrals.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Especially in the warehousing segment, advanced AI applications have numerous benefits like gesture recognition. There are also self-driving cars designed to operate without human skills.


Emphasis on increased supply chain resiliency and risk management

Risk management in supply chain can help businesses to prepare before any untoward happenings. Off-shoring, outsourcing practices, product versatility and supply chain security further the need for risk management. Resiliency in supply chain helps businesses to survive disruptive happenings.


Visibility 

Visibility across the supply chain can spontaneously detect disruptive happenings on time and with close collaboration and support of suppliers, alternatives can be put in place.


Reverse logistics

Unlike linear supply, in circular supply, previously used products can be new raw materials in a process known as reverse logistics. This needs to be explored in much more detail than what is considered by many organisations today and can eventually lead to reductions in overall cost.


Wearable technologies

Employees can access and input data in real time using cloud-based wearable devices. This also enables businesses to stay up-to-date with product demand and maintain control of their inventories.


SaaS

Software as a service model helps businesses to avoid infrastructure maintenance and costs related to upgrades. More importantly this provided the necessary tools to businesses to access data from anywhere.

Keeping these factors in mind, it is important to understand that there are no set factors impacting the future of Supply Chain and Logistics today. At the least as a start, what can be done by businesses is that they can consider their customer base, their key differentiations and value-addition prospects as well as weaknesses and opportunities that can help them plan their interactions, no matter how big or small and can also enable them to engage the customers on a daily basis in order to plan, forecast and have an edge over competition.


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