Supply Chain Trends and Predictions 2018

Since there are always articles on trends this time of year – and predictions being made, we thought we’d throw our hat in the ring and talk about supply chain trends we see ourselves. When we discussed internally, people shared trends and predictions they saw coming on everything from supply chain and technology to war and economic strife caused by catastrophic events. Although all are equally valid (predictions can be wacky, wild, safe or sensible, right?), we chose to highlight the brighter predictions and supply chain trends here.

Proliferation of autonomous vehicles in the DC

While there are autonomous vehicles in distribution centers all over the globe, bringing goods to workers instead of workers going to the goods, we predict that there will be a more widespread adoption of this approach. With Amazon driving the bulk of consumer expectations for delivery (2 days, 2 hours, etc.), it seems likely that adoption of some of the same kind of automation used to meet those expectations will increase. The benefits to AV’s are numerous, including more efficient use of existing space (which can sometimes equal being able to handle increased volume in the same facility vs. expanding). Here’s another article from MIT Technology Review about driverless vehicles. And while this isn’t on logistics specifically, here’s an interesting take on what autonomous vehicles could mean for American workers.

Higher level of comfort and usage of cloud for supply chain software

We will see more and more customers decide that they can’t beat the speed of things like AWS or Azure for hosting their critical systems like Warehouse Management, unless they spend a lot of money getting a faster network of their own. And we all know that getting a network of your own, regardless of the speed, has added recurring costs to ensure redundancy and reliability. Someone has to manage that in-house, there needs to be a server room, air conditioning, power, etc. Now that more and more companies are trusting cloud software for other functions, they will begin to trust it more for their warehouse, labor and transportation management software and begin to reap the cost-savings of that as well.

More affordable technology

This is more of a hope than a prediction, and definitely sits outside of supply chain. One of our employees recently purchased his eldest son an entry level smartphone for $100 and after helping to set it up, he was thinking, “What am I paying several times this for???” Apparently, entry level has gotten pretty good – that same employee is going to audit what he uses vs. what he pays for a little more closely in 2018 to see what other changes he can affect in his family finances.

If you’re on a roll and want to see some more supply chain trends and predictions from various sources, here are a few we thought were interesting: