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The latest DHL report shows that most companies invest in the modern solutions, but the efficiency of their use varies.

The digitization of the supply chain can give companies a competitive advantage.

Today’s world of logistics is affected by the phenomenon of digitalization. It is clear that the entire supply chain must be designed in a new way – says Vincenzo Campanella, director of marketing at the Cassiol Group, which deals in the supply of automated solutions for logistics.

At the same time, he emphasizes that today’s warehouse is no longer a „dusty room of the past, in which boxes and all kinds of packaging were stacked.” It is more technologically intelligent, more dynamic than before.

The benefits of using IT solutions, including those automating various activities, are noticed not only by „warehouse keepers” but also by managers of other tasks in supply chains.

Big data

However, research carried out by DHL on digitization in the supply chain shows that new technologies and tools are developing at such a fast pace and significantly change the functioning of the industry, that supply chains have problems with the rapid „assimilation” of these solutions. As a result, only 5 percent of companies can fully use these assets.

Undoubtedly, digitization has an extraordinary impact on supply chains and operations around the world and its significance will not decrease. Companies face a wide range of new products and applications entering the market and gaining recognition in the industry. A targeted strategy of supply chain digitization is now key to assessing the environment of new technologies and setting directions to benefit from them and gain an advantage over competitors – says Lisa Harrington, president of the Harrington Group, which carried out research commissioned by DHL.

The situation is quite positive when it comes to being aware of new possibilities. As much as 73 percent of respondents have already invested in the big data analysis. Respondents were also interested in solutions based on the cloud (63 percent), internet of things (54 percent) and blockchain (51 percent).

Four out of five respondents who were asked about the main benefits expected from using the technology reported a reduction in costs and higher profitability.

New technologies in the supply chain poorly used

Consciousness is one thing, but the practice looks much worse. It turns out that 95 percent of the respondents do not take full advantage of the potential for the development of equipment, as well as the possibilities offered by information and analytical solutions.

The prospects, however, are promising. Robotics of the next generation, artificial intelligence, unmanned cars, blockchains, big data – these are just some of the technologies that modern companies must already include in their operational strategies and within the supply chain.

Two-thirds of the heads of companies surveyed by DHL declared that robotics is of key importance to them, ahead of autonomous cars (40 percent), 3D printing (33 percent) and augmented reality and drones (28 percent). If these indications will translate into concrete investment decisions in the coming years, and more importantly, if the devices find a real application, it will be possible to talk about the real success in the digitization of logistics.

A long return on investment discourages entrepreneurs

For now, however, companies admit that they are just beginning to recognize opportunities. 39 percent of them declares that it develops one or more information and analytical solutions, and only one-third of them plan to apply hardware solutions.

A slow pace is the result of tradition. Only some are able to free themselves from it. For example, DHL already today applies augmented reality in warehouses in order to increase the efficiency of the picking process. Warehouse work shortens picking time, supports employees in repetitive tasks, e.g. packaging. What’s more, the tycoon introduces robotic programming (process automation using robotics), and appropriate sensors provide customers with real-time information on the location and status of their goods (using the Internet of Things).

In the case of using hardware technologies, more than two-thirds of respondents are mainly concerned about their reliability, for almost the same large group a particular problem is a resistance to changes in the organization, but also insufficient or too long – in their opinion, return on investment.

Photo: Pixabay / Geralt

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