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I’ve mentioned supply chain issues in my Leaders several times since the pandemic began, so read with interest a report on the future of supply chain operations, released this week by GlobalTranz. Although it was based on the US market, I can see that the points made are relevant to the global marketplace so thought I’d share them here.
Many of us will have experienced shortages in supply, both as consumers and in our businesses. Although lots of the issues that created these have been ironed out, the report highlighted potential future blips as well as expected increases in shipping rates (leading to higher product prices for those further along the chain). We’re also likely to experience driver shortages, with those testing positive for Covid-19 unable to work. The report suggests that companies adopt ‘supply chain resilience’, which involves rethinking your inventory, bringing the supply chain closer to your customers with new and flexible warehousing wherever possible and the use of supply chain optimisation software. It predicts that the warehouse of 2021 and beyond will be as much of a technology centre as an inventory centre, and that to support a shift toward warehouse technology, companies will require employees with a higher education level in warehouse operations, including IT specialists and engineers with robotics backgrounds. This, it says, is thanks to the increasing amount of data collection and automation being deployed within warehouses and fulfillment centres. Simultaneously, with the increase in talent with a background in data science and robotics, there will be a need for supply chain professionals with the oversight and expertise to manage overall operational efficiency and connect the tech to the larger supply chain picture. As someone who was around when ‘Just in Time’ morphed into ‘Lean’ manufacturing, I’m also wondering whether organisations will once again start stockpiling parts and products, so they can ride out any temporary shortages in supply.
Another item in today’s broadcast draws attention to colour-coding in cleaning. I used to chat to the British Institute of Cleaning Science’s Colin Hasson at length over this in the early-90s and neither of us could understand why – in an industry with a high turnover of staff, there wasn’t a nationwide system which would give us all the confidence that cross-contamination could be kept to a minimum through colour-coding of products and equipment. Back then we thought that by now legislation would be in place but sadly it’s not. I hope this changes soon and that a system can be put in place globally, rather than just nationally. It makes sound sense, after all...
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6th May 2021