Digitisation is going to be the most important trend in the supply chain industry in 2020, according to various trend-analysing researches published in the last few weeks. Paperless warehouses, e-commerce, data analytics and system integration will define investments in the industry, based on the flows of 2019. Are these just hypes or will they really play an important role in the history of the sector?
Logistics Viewpoints has reviewed and classified trends in the supply chain technology into three groups: hypes, promising technologies and trends that have a high return of investment (ROI) but are not widely adopted.
Hyped technologies are getting a lot of publicity but have little proven value according to the definition of Logistics Viewpoints. These are the technologies that seem to be in search of a solution. According to the logistics magazine, blockchain, 5G, AI and autonomous trucking belong to the group of hyped technologies.
While following the story of autonomous trucks like Tesla’s Cybertruck, we can be pretty sure that they won’t be the big bang of 2020, blockchain has already been implemented by some market-leading companies like Nestle, DHL or Carrefour.
AI also has some proven record of successful usage. According to the report of McKinsey and Company, the use of AI technology is steadily increasing, and the increase in the use of artificial intelligence in standard business processes increased by 25% in 2019. Most executives surveyed for the purpose of the analysis admitted that the implementation of solutions based on AI brought savings. The largest ones were recorded in production and the supply chain.
Logistics Viewpoints classifies machine learning in WMS, robotic automated storage and Machine Learning in TMS are promising trends that offer robust ROI or other real benefits. However, these technologies are still in baby shoes, therefore hard to find solid references to prove their long-term efficiency.
Trends with a history
The Supply Chain24/7 magazine has published a different list. According to the journal, automated paperless warehouses, e-commerce, business intelligence and analytics, system integrations and dynamic workflows are going to be the trends that dominate the development of supply chains in 2020. These technologies have some kind of shorter or longer history.
In the Port of Rotterdam, “paperless” document flow and cargo monitoring is already used. ABN AMRO, Port of Rotterdam and Samsung SDS have become part of the Blockchain Delivery platform for good. The cooperation of these companies concerns several aspects of transport, from financing, through guarantees and insurance, to monitoring and full documentation. It was recently reported that the first transported container had travelled this full ‘path’ from the supplier in Korea to the warehouse in Tilburg, the Netherlands.
Regarding business intelligence, the overwhelming majority of shippers and 3PLs, 95% and 99% respectively, agree analytics are essential to success, reports the Supply Chain 24/7. However, only 26% of shippers and 27% of 3PLs believe
current analytics capabilities meet this requirement because of the lack of access to data, inability to understand data, and poor categorization of data. In September 2019, C. H. Robinson invested 1 million dollars into cutting-edge technology.
Bob Biesterfeld, Chief Operating Officer and President of C.H. Robinson, explained that big data and digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics, are having a profound impact on the transport and logistics marketplace. In his opinion, only those who provide leverage for both technology and talent will compete and win in the industry in the future.
While trends are changing, some fail, some succeed serving the most important tendencies of the last decade, it is more than obvious that automation and digitisation is the only way forward.