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Unlocking supply chain value and the adoption of blockchains

Business trends in 2018 will reinforce the importance of supply chains, says DSV’s Mungo Park

DSV Road Blockchains

Blockchains create visibility and traceability, and will become more pervasive in supply chain management. Together with other technologies they will improve product lifecycle management and help monitor ethical product sourcing and manufacturing environments.

Mungo Park, Senior Director Account Solutions, Consumer & Retail at DSV South Africa and president of Southern African supply chain and operations management association, Sapics, foresees a more rapid adoption of blockchain than currently anticipated.

He says astute supply chain professionals will continue to focus on opportunities to leverage technology systems and the data generated. “With supply chains growing in complexity, there will continue to be a focus on supply chain visibility that facilitates swift, proactive intervention.”

The volume of data accumulated will facilitate effective decisions on supply chain efficiency improvements. Business intelligence tools will be used more widely to identify inefficiencies, opportunities and trends, and to improve supply chain performance.

Park says blockchain will become more pervasive in supply chain management. They create visibility and traceability and combined with other technologies such as RFID, they can improve product lifecycle management and help in monitoring ethical product sourcing and manufacturing environments. 

“While we may be some years away from the widespread use of blockchain technology in supply chain management, I foresee greater application of it going forward, and probably more rapid adoption blockchain than currently anticipated.

Partnerships

A supply chain needs the collaboration of all participants and the integration of all elements if it is to perform optimally, and Park anticipates increased emphasis on partnerships in 2018.

Long-term relationships will be valued and cultivated, and there will be a growing trend towards enhanced integration between partners. 

Information sharing will be used to drive improvements across the supply chain, and to enable growth that will benefit all stakeholders. We are seeing less chopping and changing of service providers based on price, with supply chain managers embracing longer-term partnerships. This will continue as organisations need to integrate multiple participants in the supply chain.

E-commerce fulfilment

e-commerce is growing by up 40% year on year compared to growth of between 5-7% in traditional bricks and mortar stores, and this requires adapting and expanding traditional supply chain capabilities to include e-commerce fulfilment. “Warehousing and distribution solutions must further improve fine pick capabilities and cost-effective last mile delivery. Hybrid last mile solutions will need to include lockers, retail agnostic pick up points and traditional “click and collect” as well as “face to face””, says Park.

Successful supply chains will be those that are flexible and responsive and can respond to demand spikes.

The rise of supply chain

Park says many businesses still fail to recognise the importance of the supply chain, too often regarding it as a cost centre. The supply chain can be the organisational business integrator since supply chain improvements have beneficial effects for other business functions.

He anticipates more companies to use supply chain optimisation in 2018 to drive bottom-line improvement. In so doing, recognition of the value of the supply chain will increase.

One focus area will be the elimination of waste in the supply chain. Reduction of inventory and buffers, for example, will release cash from the supply chain. This will create an advantage over businesses with cumbersome supply chains with poor product flow and multiple manual interventions.

Risk management and supply chain resilience

Supply chain risk management will be even more important in 2018. Ever more complex supply chains, with more outsourcing and multitiered global supply networks, mean that organisations are facing more and more operational, environmental and legislative risks for supply chains. Supply chain managers need to identify and mitigate potential risks – whether an increase in port congestion, poor supplier or carrier performance or changing weather patterns.

Proactive strategies and action plans, as well as the development of risk mitigation scenarios, must be in place to respond effectively to disruptive events.

It is crucial to build resilience into supply chains, including having alternative sources of supply and alternate service providers to turn to in case of a failure in an organisation’s primary network.

  • This release is based on an article written for Sapics and first appeared in news portal www.bizcommunity.com