A study released today by NTT Data on the current state of the global supply chain offers clues into how the logistics industry is managing through the worst crisis in decades.
The pandemic placed a spotlight on supply chains, illuminating the downsides of just-in-time inventory management and vulnerabilities in sourcing strategies. The report highlights several ways the industry plans to change to limit future disruptions: advancements in technology, reshoring of production, growth of the supply chain as-a-service business model.
Increased use of technology will make more intelligent, more agile supply chains. Technological advancements have the potential to relieve some of the stress in the industry. Promising technologies such as 5G, real-time data transmission, robotics, Internet of Things and data analytics will help logistics managers with better visibility into the different areas of the supply chain and improve maneuverability when issues occur.
Smart factories and warehouses can increase square footage capacity and autonomous processes could address labor shortages — to an extent. “Tech-driven productivity improvements can only help so much,” according to Sylvie Thompson, a supply chain consultant with NTT Data Services. “No amount of technology is going to resolve some of the capacity issues, but it will give us more agility to adjust to maintain production,” says Thompson. Yet, many processes in the chain still require human intervention, and as such, demand for labor will still be an issue.