We all have to think about the future of the supply chain. In the years to come, we'll have to figure out how to cut costs, rationalise the supply base, improve risk prediction and management, and provide a high level of strategic foresight. The better solutions we find, the better our supply chain operations will be. But, of course, it will be a hard thing to achieve without utilising new technologies. If you want to hear more about them and learn how to future-proof your supply chain, be sure to read on.
Now, if you've been in the business for some time, we don't have to explain how bad supply disruptions can be. Delayed or missing shipments, rising logistics costs, and unexpected import tariffs put a lot of burden on businesses with a tight operating budget. Unfortunately, you can't know when something bad is about to happen. However, you can prepare for such disruptions well in advance.
So, here are the best seven ways to design your supply chain for the future.
1. End-to-end digital integration
If you want to get ready for the future, connecting your entire supply chain is the first step. Modern technology will play a big role here, and we can see that from its growth in the American, European, and Chinese markets. Africa and India are a bit behind, but it's only a matter of time before we see them catching up.
To get more visibility and control of the entire process, you want to collect data from suppliers and distributors to a single dashboard. By doing it, you'll get a chance to use predictive analysis, which is proven to be pretty insightful.
Furthermore, we've seen plenty of natural disasters disrupting supply chains all over the world in the last couple of years. And although you won't be able to foresee them, an integrated system will mean that you can track all your shipments in real-time. So, you'll be able to respond as these events are happening, without delay. As a result, your supply chain will become more transparent, and you'll be able to make better-informed decisions.
2. Optimise and automate supply chain management
The technology brings lots of benefits to the supply chain, and one place where it will bring the most good is decision guidance. A modern system can analyse hundreds of thousands of data points from different sources and tell you precisely what you need to do to stay ahead of the curve. Soon enough, companies that rely on humans to make all the decisions will be left in the dust.
On top of that, automated systems will help you with supply chain risk management. In the next decade, robots and AI will take care of the most tedious jobs in logistics, while humans will get new roles to play. Being ahead with automation efforts will help you reduce risk and uncertainty. And when the changeover becomes an industry requirement, you'll have a lower price to pay to transition fully.
3. Build relationships with suppliers
If you want to future-proof your supply chain, you'll have to foster supplier relationships. You want to establish mutual trust and understand all the benefits you bring to each other. Of course, to keep up the reputation of your business, you must always have products available. And that availability depends on your suppliers.
So, you want to work with companies that consistently deliver the goods, use quality materials, and do it for a competitive price. With an integrated system, you can keep an eye on all incidents and make sure you respond before they impact your business. On top of that, it allows you to evaluate your suppliers and adjust your buying decisions based on performance metrics.
4. Focus on customers
To keep your robust supply chain running, you need your customers to trust you. So, you must find a way to get them the best value, no matter what supply or manufacturing issues you may be dealing with.
We don't have to stress how competitive that market is at the moment. There are so many companies around that there's a shortage of space in London. And all the competition is making the price a secondary thing. Only if you can establish higher customer trust and satisfaction can you stay afloat. So if you don't see your competitors doing it, get a head start and become the one leading the pack. And in the next point, we'll explain how.
5. Adopt responsible practices
Thanks to the internet and the higher transparency it brought, consumers now want different things. They care about brand names much less, and they want to see companies they buy from pay attention to fair labour and responsible sourcing. As a result, socially conscious brands are rising to the top, making the big guys reconsider their decisions.
And don't fool yourself into thinking this trend will go away in a few years. On the contrary, as younger consumers age and become financially independent, they'll care about sustainability and fair trade even more. Thus, to get the edge over your competitors, you'll have to adopt the social commitments your customers want you to adopt.
6. Improve resilience of your supply chain
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen how hard it can be to meet customer demands in a time of crisis. Of course, good relationships with your suppliers can help in such a scenario, but you should look for a way to be more secure. And avoiding ''lean'' business models that should help you save money at all costs are the steps you'll have to take. The resilience of your supply chain is one of the seven things to look out for in logistics in 2022, and here are three steps to boosting it.
Bring supply closer to demand. Produce goods as close to your vital consumers as possible.
Contact shelter service providers. If you ever need to relocate your production centre without getting lost in local regulations and laws.
Tighten your grip on production. A faster supply chain closer to the home could eliminate the risk of catastrophes and disasters connected to climate change.
7. Employ a multi-modal transport system
To put a stop to your supply chain disruption, invest in an efficient multi-modal system. Simply put, the system will decide on the best mode and route to transport your goods depending on conditions, cost, time, and ethical considerations. So, it puts all the things we talked about together.
Of course, for it to work, you'll have to have a real-time data information flow. However, by performing an end-to-end digital integration and optimising and automating your supply chain management, you take care of that step. As a result, your managers will have more time and data to make the best decisions for your company.
The bottom line
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to future-proof your supply chain even now. But as the years go by and technology evolves, we'll see new trends emerging. To keep up with them, you have to start as soon as possible. It will require lots of work, and maybe you'll have to make some foundational redesigns. That said, it will be worth it, as it'll ensure to stay in the game for the years to come.