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Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management Trends

Monday, December 2, 2019

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While supply chains themselves have been around for hundreds of years, the global logistics and supply chain management (SCM) industry is a relatively new entity—and a rapidly evolving one at that. Explore five of the major global logistics and supply chain management trends expected to influence the future of SCM to take a peek into your future in the industry.


As concerns for the environment and big business’ impact on it grow, sustainability is rising to the forefront of the world—and for many businesses, supply chains are the first place they’re looking to lead changes. Major companies like Samsung, HP, and Honda are focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, minimizing water risks, and switching to more sustainable practices in their supply chains. These actions have earned them the title of Supplier Engagement Leaders in the Carbon Disclosure Program’s (CDP) Supply Chain Disclosure program.


This relatively new technology is poised to revolutionize the supply chain industry. Essentially a secure public record of transactions, blockchain has the power to create fluidity and visibility in fragmented supply chains. In addition to security and efficiency, this new technology also helps managers craft more fine-tuned strategies backed by facts.

Data and analytics play a significant role in the power of blockchain. By keeping a running log of transactions across the chain, analysts will have access to a higher volume of more accurate data for decision-making. Blockchain is also largely responsible for highlighting supply chain visibility, yet another major trend set to alter industry best practices.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Various elements of SCM are being allocated to artificial intelligence, as self-learning capabilities allow the technology to automate various aspects along virtually every step of the chain. Activities may include everything from forecasting demand and planning delivery routes to regulating production and predicting maintenance needs before they become an issue.

AI poses many futuristic applications in SCM that may not be as far off as one might imagine—for example, autonomous vehicles. AI-powered transportation can help boost safety, reduce human error, and lead to more efficient supply chains. The technology can also be used to collect large data sets and create actionable insights for supply chain managers looking to improve processes.

As AI and its applications continue to evolve, there is no doubt the SCM industry will see a spike in the integration of the technology to improve both supply chains and the organizations they support.


Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT—or internet of things—refers to the growing network of connected devices. Everything from wearable tech like smartwatches to kitchen appliances and computers is a part of the IoT.

Connectivity in SCM provides a variety of benefits—perhaps one of the biggest being increased volume and quality of data. Because devices are connected, they can communicate with each other. This allows for real-time data that can help prevent or remedy potential issues, create more efficient processes, and much more.

The IoT also affords supply chain managers much more accessible and fine-tuned control over activities that previously took a great deal of monitoring and effort. Connected devices can be turned on or off, re-programmed, monitored, and repaired easily, all from a central hub. This allows supply chain managers to prevent delays, boost efficiency, and continuously improve processes with minimal downtime.

The IoT’s ability to track supply chain activities from raw materials to a consumer’s doorstep can also be incredibly useful in other ways. For example, it can help managers identify trends, forecast demand, compile consumer behaviors, and perform many other essential activities in ensuring the health of an organization.


Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA is just as its name suggests—software-enabled bots programmed to navigate automated activities. These bots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to acquire skills that allow them to perform repetitive tasks, like those on an assembly line. RPA is being integrated into SCM heavily as a cost-effective and efficient way to streamline monotonous tasks.

One major benefit of RPA is the absence of human error. Bots are programmed to perform specific tasks precisely and quickly. Lower levels of variation create more consistency among a supply chain and increase process speeds, ultimately boosting overall effectiveness.

Are you looking to enhance your career with a Master’s in Supply Chain Management? You’ve come to the right place! Purdue’s Krannert School of Management offers students the #2 Global Supply Chain and Logistics Master’s program in the world. Discover more about this highly-ranked program, including an accelerated track for more experienced professionals, to take your first steps toward obtaining your degree!