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GlobalData: Supply chains and the digital revolution

25 Aug 2020

The constraints created by the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing manufacturers, suppliers and distributors across the world to revisit their global supply chain strategies and accelerate the adoption of digital technologies, says GlobalData.

“Increasing labour shortages, forced closure of factories, disruptions in delivery routes and logistics hubs due to lockdowns, along with evolving customer behaviour are the major factors driving companies to deploy digital technologies. Technologies that will have the maximum impact include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Blockchain, Digital Twins and Robotics,” says GlobalData principal disruptive tech analyst Manish Dixit. 

GlobalData's Disruptor Database, which analyses and showcases real-world examples of vital use cases across disruptive technologies, reveals companies are leveraging digital technologies in the supply chain to create new disruptive product offerings, services and business models.

AI

Leveraging AI, companies can optimise supply and demand gap, automate decision making, channel warehouse requisites, identify target consumers, and bring greater visibility on order- to- delivery supply time. 

For instance, Arizona’s DigiTech company Blue Yonder launched an AI-powered end-to-end digital fulfilment platform ‘Luminate Planning Portfolio’ for manufacturers and retailers. The automated supply chain solution allows companies to fully manage their supply chain with streamlined planning, visibility, and improvisation.

Big data

Chicago-based freight-tracking logistics startup Fourkites has tapped predictive analytics to provide predictive capacity management solutions for logistics companies. 

It can automatically predict the availability of private fleet trucks and match these trucks in accordance with shipping demand. 

The use of supply chain analytics across industries is increasingly becoming key to improving operational effectiveness by enabling data-driven decisions across levels.

Blockchain

Blockchain provides an open, tamper-proof, distributed record of transactions and, in turn, increases the accuracy and efficiency of supply chain systems. Shanghai-based blockchain developer VeChain launched a food safety solution ‘ ToolChain’ to improve end-to-end transparency in food supply chains. 

This Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform enhances supply chain food traceability amidst the rising food safety concerns following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Digital twins

Digital twins allow the digital representation of a company’s actual supply chain, which can be leveraged to streamline and manage the supply chains and business strategies. 

Germany-based global logistics company DHL created a digital twin warehouse, which receives real-time data from the physical warehouse and continually tracks performance to identify optimal storage solutions.

Robotics

Robots in supply chains play a vital role in a broad range of applications beyond the basic transfer of objects. 

For instance, Singapore-based designer and manufacturer of warehouse robots, GreyOrange, has introduced a robot sortation system to enable retail, FMCG, and e-commerce companies to manage distribution networks. 

“The repercussions of COVID-19 have once again highlighted the need for more resilient supply chains in a highly globalized economy. Companies are incorporating technology-enabled scalable and adaptable solutions in supply chain management to maximize customer value while improving competitive advantage to stay relevant in these uncertain times,” Dixit concludes.