1. Supply chain is changing the world
The the way we live today owes much to developments in supply chain thinking and practice. It is the ability to manage an extended supply chain that has driven the growth in global trade. And it is the development of logistics and its supporting technology that has enabled e-commerce to grow at the phenomenal rate we have seen over the past few years.
Getting it right can give a company a competitive advantage – and getting it wrong can threaten the entire existence of the business.
2. Supply chain is an increasingly political issue
The impact of supply chain issues on daily life is increasingly bringing the activity into the political arena. The UK is due to leave the European Union on 31st October – moving goods to and from the continent will be a critical issue.
But there are more long-term challenges that will need to be addressed. The development of extended supply chains has highlighted the challenge of maintaining visibility of what is going on in the furthest reaches of the chain, and managing suppliers at long range.
There is still work to be done on this. Major corporations are still finding themselves named and shamed as a result of unacceptable labour practices by their suppliers. Government plans to strengthen modern slavery legislation will put pressure on companies to be more proactive in managing this issue.
The pressure to move to more sustainable business models will continue to increase. Making the transition from diesel to cleaner forms of energy is one challenge. But there are broader issues that will need to be addressed: use of natural resources, toxic waste, water use and pollution, and deforestation are all becoming more prominent concerns.
3. The rate of technological change is increasing
For more than 15 years this magazine has been saying that the robots are coming. But it is only in the past couple of years that the technology has really taken off. And the rate of adoption is bound to increase over the coming years. Last month, Starship, the robot delivery company which was only created in 2014, made its 100,000th commercial delivery.
Not only that, the arrival of 5G, along with IT developments will enable the processing of ever greater volumes of data in real time, and bring artificial intelligence into the mainstream of supply chain operations.
4. Supply chain people are the best
The basic task might seem simple: to get goods to where they are needed, when they are needed. But forecasting demand, devising the most efficient and robust strategy, and managing the risks involved can make it a dramatically difficult task – and its takes great people to get the job done.
Many years ago I was told: “In this business a good pair of fists is a lot more useful than an MBA.” The world has changed. People used to talk about transport and warehousing: today we talk about supply chain and logistics – and an MBA is definitely more useful than a good pair of fists.
5. The secret of success is a great team
This is the last blog that I will write before I retire as editor of Logistics Manager. I’m proud to be able to say that the magazine has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. That is all down to a great team of people here at Akabo.
It’s been a privilege for me to work with some outstanding journalists over the past 15 years, and I am delighted that a number of them, Liza Helps, Johanna Parsons, Alex Leonards and Maria Highland, still contribute to the magazine.
Christopher Walton takes over as editor from the next issue. Chris joins from DVV Media, where he was editor-in-chief of the road division. I am sure you will join me in wishing him every success in the future.