4 Trends Driving Supply Chain Innovation 

As the novel coronavirus continues to test the national supply chain, some major factors that have revealed their urgency in 2020. Anything from the accelerated adoption of warehouse automation, to a desire for greater supply chain durability, and the need for alternative transportation modes. The crisis continues to present daily challenges and future possibilities for supply chain professionals. 

Below are four trends regarding the demands currently facing the supply chainand the strategies you need to address them.

1. Managing Disruption to the Supply Chain 

The impact the pandemic has had on the national supply chain cannot be overstated.  

A small snippet to help illustrate the grand shift in supply chains this year would be the fact that consumers began forgoing restaurants around March 2020, in favor of eating at home. This led to many families stocking up on groceries and supplies, boosting sales for retail supermarkets by an average of 29% over the prior year. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, sales declined at restaurants, fast-food locations, coffee venues, and casual-dining locations by 27% over the previous year.  

The answer to surviving and hopefully thriving from the recent shift in the US supply chain appears to be double-faceted. We have learned now that is not only about solving the riddle to improve supply chain resilience but finding the key to drive innovation at the same time.  

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit The Great Depression and the 2008 Recession for relevant insight. People and businesses who headed into the depression with key investments in innovation, on average, not only survived, but vastly outperformed their competition who didn’t follow suit. 

Whatever the sector or industrynow is the time to explore various opportunities to test out new ideas and embrace new ways of doing things and adjusting once the results are discovered. 

2. Deploying Advanced Automation Technology

The reality of managing supply chains in the era of COVID-19 has dramatically and perhaps permanently revolutionized historic methods and processes. 

For example, the implementation of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders have already had a deep impact on distribution and logistics. Warehouses that use robots may not only be more efficient and cost-effective, but might be less likely to shut down if workers become sick. 

Innovation can be challenging, but it doesn’t always have to be a difficult or drastic change. These changes are all focused on longterm success, so it’s important to ensure you have the right resources and infrastructure in placeThese changes will help the process run smoothly and be more effective long term.   

3. Diversifying Transportation Modes

Further strengthen your supply chain by reviewing your transportation strategy, regardless of the size of your company or your organization’s industry. 

As demand continues to skyrocket for already constrained freight capacity, research options for your transportation mode, such as LTL, drayage, and rail for example. Embrace data-driven technologies that recommend different ways of moving your goods. These advanced technologies and AI will help your organization become more agile and flexible to the market.   

4. Improving Supply Chain Visibility

In many instances, this global crisis has revealed a lack of visibility into the depths of most supply chains. Expect to see a move toward improved visibility as the pandemic continues to unfold 

Technology will undoubtedly play a key role in your supply chain visibility. Advanced data analytics will prove pivotal in helping companies in any industry gain more visibility into their supply chains and better mitigate anticipated disruption. 

This may even mean something as unique as diversifying your supply chain by proactively developing relationships with alternative manufacturers, allowing you to more quickly adjust operations in response to disruption. 

For example, if one of your suppliers is dependent on a raw material manufacturer located in an emerging COVID-19 hot spot, you absolutely need to be aware of this, so you can consider the possibility of sourcing a new supplier or taking necessary precautions when dealing with your current supplier. Being able to act on this information will ultimately increase the resilience of your extended supply chain, and safety of everyone in contact with the suppliers.  

This may even involve permanently relocating portions of your supply chain to parts of the world deemed less risky moving forward. This strategy is not only about building resilience elsewhere in the supply chain but also about companies becoming more resilient themselves.  

If you are interested in learning more about innovating your supply chain, please fill out the form below to be put in touch with one of our in-house supply chain experts to see how C.L. Services can streamline and enhance your current transportation strategy. It’s time to take control of your supply chain. 

Written by:
Tim Griffin
Director of Marketing & Media, C.L Services, Inc.

 

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