A great deal of focus and many discussions are taking place around the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Many companies from leading world economies and developing countries are investing a lot of time and money into skills development and embracing innovation.
India, China and Germany are just a few examples where some positive results are being achieved.
With these levels of innovation, it is crucial to develop a workforce with a skill set that assists and improves the supply chain in all areas and on all levels. The increasingly important need for real-time tracking and accurate delivery systems makes the supply chain ideal for innovation and improvements such as wireless and handheld devices that can be used throughout the logistics environment.
Smaller companies are more flexible
This technology boom in the sector does pose challenges for big corporate companies that have invested a lot in older technology. But smaller to medium-sized companies are not as invested and can be at the leading end of the market, supplying solutions and services. They can act as pioneers and create a healthy, cost-friendly environment.
Strategic workforce management is also critical, with flexible communication and networking improving the supply chain process and creating a better client service and experience. The many benefits to the value chain within such a set of technology-enabled future skills include live tracking and reporting, and instantly changing and updating orders through mobile apps.
Value chain management can thus enable a better flow of materials and productivity. A seamless flow of information can help to improve cash flow. The location of distribution hubs and better forecasting and planning can ensure that a company is able to adapt and evolve with all the ongoing innovation. Value chain management can offer valuable direction regarding new market opportunities and investment.
Responsible sustainable supply chains
Another growing trend is towards “responsible sustainable supply chains”, where companies need to look at how, what and where they can lessen their carbon footprints. Initiatives can include changing your fleet, using cleaner, better-running engines, and enabling the use of paperless transactions. Traffic smart applications, smart buildings with solar panel power solutions and sensor lighting are further ways to use technology as an enabler. Future clients and governments will be judging companies ever more critically on these aspect in the future.
The warehouse of the future will be shaped by trends in society and technology. The concept of the “pop-up warehouse” will become more common, set up to serve the needs of clients for a specific time and in a specific area. Technology advancements will make this possible and, with proper strategic planning and connecting with the right value chain partners, the future of logistics will be exciting and rewarding.
Wits Plus offers a contact-based short course in Applied Logistics and Supply Chain Management. An online course called Logistics and Supply Chain Management Practice is also available through the Wits DigitalCampus platform.
For more information, visit: Applied Logistics and Supply Chain Management
AND Logistics and Supply Chain Management Practice
Dr Dennis Laxton is a part-time lecturer in logistics and supply chain management at Wits Plus.
Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to the working person or business owner. Wits Plus also offers a range of fully online short courses in partnership with the DigitalCampus that enable students to study anywhere and at any time, with fully design-responsive courses that adapt to all device types.
Tel: 011 717 9510