Supply Chain Planning & Logistics professionals need to stay informed of what is happening in the industry, and how emerging trends in technology, outsourcing, regulations, and business practices can impact their jobs and companies. There is plenty of information out there; the challenge is filtering through all the noise to zero in on what is truly important and why.
ARC supply chain and logistics analysts Steve Banker, Clint Reiser and Chris Cunnane bring more than 50 years of logistics research experience to their writing and analysis, working closely with leading manufacturers, retailers, logistics service providers, and technology companies. Their insightful postings address clearly and concisely the basic questions logistics professionals are asking: What are the most important trends? What news matters and why? What is new in logistics technology and supply chain best practices? What actions should I take in response?
Current Status of Supply Chains and What’s Next?
Our recent survey results show that today’s supply chain and logistics operations are balancing multiple competing objectives while contending with substantial uncertainty. Simply put, the disruptions of the recent past have exposed the vulnerabilities within supply chains. The operational impacts have been severe enough for executives to take action in support of supply chain resilience. At the same time, competitive forces have made supply chain operations more relevant to the customer experience and revenue generation. Meanwhile, labor constraints are as binding as ever. But demand remains strong – at least for now. It seems as if many are patiently anticipating an economic downturn that is expected to be shallow in depth and short in duration.
The factors impacting broader supply chains extend all the way down to the warehouse floor. In fact, pressures are very similar with warehouse labor cost inflation, labor shortages, and inventory shortages at the top of the “concerns” list. Simply put, supply chain operations are under strain with pressures coming from multiple sources. And they must be capable of adapting to various demands. Meanwhile, executives are focusing on the present, with an eye to the future a concern for a repeat of the recent past.
Taking Action Across the Supply Chain and in the Warehouse
Executives are taking action to ensure ongoing performance while mitigating operational risks. With respect to supply chain resilience efforts, making improvements to planning and forecasting processes is a lever that many expect to pull over the next year. Additionally, many organizations are also planning to source materials from suppliers in closer proximity and to hold greater inventory to assure short lead times and high inventory availability. Furthermore, some organizations plan to take steps to diversify supplier relationships, indicating a broader supply chain risk management approach.
Technology investment in the warehouse is very much focused on better utilization of warehouse labor. The comments that respondents made in our survey provided valuable insight into their logic. One executive simply stated that it’s “an easy variable to address.” But others provided clarity on labor management’s value for them in comparison to an alternative. For example, one respondent stated warehouse visibility had been established and now they are focused on better labor management for capacity planning. Yet another stated that bots are cost-prohibitive given their operation’s product variability. And yet another stated that it is more cost-efficient to have well managed manual operations than to deploy bots.
ARC's team of analysts are dedicated to researching, analyzing, and consulting in these areas:
- 3PL and 4PL Managed Transportation Services
- Demand and Inventory Planning
- Global Trade Compliance (GTC) Systems
- Integrated Business Planning
- Mobile Warehouse Robotics
- Supply Chain Planning (SCP)
- Transportation Execution Systems
- Transportation Management Systems (TMS)
- Warehouse Automation & Control
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
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