Disruptive supply chain technologies like AI, IoT, data analytics and more have caused supply chain leaders to weigh the implications of those trends against the future of their supply chain operation. Many companies face the realization that they may have exhausted meaningful cost-cutting opportunities while feeling overwhelmed by new technology solutions and the value propositions they offer. Before weighing the benefits and cost of implementing change to your supply chain, consider our tips on knowing when to implement a change.
Tip 1: Research trends in the industry. According to Disruption in Fruit and Vegetable Distribution, Fruit Logistica Trend Report 2018, cost and efficiency will continue to play a significant role in driving the fruit and vegetable supply chain in the coming years. It stresses, however, that the fresh produce supply chain technology improvements will increasingly address four emerging requirements. These include:
- More rapid supply
- More flexible supply
- More precise supply
- More transparent supply
“Supply chain leaders must assess their company’s risk culture to determine their readiness to explore and adopt emerging offerings,” comments Christian Titze, research director at Gartner. “If in doubt, consider piloting small projects to determine whether the potential benefit of the technology trend is worth the risk and required investment in new skills, capabilities, and services.”
Tip 2: Understand that change can happen incrementally. The good news is that new technologies are increasingly scale-able and flexible. Small islands of automation, for example, in conjunction with the use of RPCs, can act to boost the storage capacity and order picking capabilities of existing distribution centers, while collaborative robots (cobots) and autonomous forklifts can work safely in a human environment to reduce worker travel time and staffing requirements.
In one real life example, the use of IFCO RPCs enabled SOK, Finland’s leading grocery retailer, to launch one of the world’s first automated warehouses for fresh fruit and vegetables. Automation projects are becoming increasingly popular for retailers looking to increase their competitive advantage.
Tip 3: Build a robust internal change management process to help weigh the change.
Manhattan Associates, a supply chain software provider, emphasizes that the difference between selecting a good supply chain solution and partner versus an excellent solution and partner comes down to doing the right work upfront. And sometimes, supply chain partners are tasked not with choosing the best technology, but in adopting technologies mandated by a trading partner. Having a robust internal change management process can help provide a smooth transition, as can external assistance from vendors or consultants.
Tips 4: Don’t over weigh the risk of adopting technological change versus inaction. Executives who “wait and see” may be over weighting the risk of implementation versus the risk of not implementing,” writes Supply Chain Brain. “The real business risk is in delaying the adoption of these technologies,” it writes.
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