At ProMat 2017 Deloitte and MHI released the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report, which among other things explores eight key technologies that supply chain managers need to better understand since these technologies will disrupt supply chains for the next decaide.
According to the report, 83% of survey respondents believe that at least one of these eight technologies could either be a source of competitive advantage or a source of disruption for supply chains in the next 10 years.
The survey also found that two of these technologies (robotics & automation, and driverless vehicles & drones) have already had a bigger and more rapid impact on supply chains than previously predicted. This accelerated pace of change is dramatically altering the way supply chains work, how they are managed, and how the always-on network is evolving.
In fact, the idea of a supply chain itself is likely to change, according to Scott Sopher, principal with Deloitte Consulting's supply chain practice. "Supply chains are evolving to become digital supply networks, which are on-demand and always-on."
What's more, this type of always-on supply network "has the potential to deliver massive economic and environmental rewards,” adds George Prest, CEO of MHI. “It can boost productivity and sustainability, drive new markets, and encourage innovation, resulting in exponential change for industry and society as a whole.”
This gallery takes a closer look at the 10 technologies identified in the report, ranked in order of being most likely to disrupt your operations.
Blockchain, while seen as having eventual impact as a disruptive technology or a source of competitive advantage, distantly trails the rest of the technologies in the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report, as only 31% of respondents see it as being of immediate relevance to their strategic goals.
Nevetheless, blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies "could significantly change the way retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers operate their supply chains to sell goods and services," predicts Peter Loop, principal technology architect at Infosys. "Consumers' behavior and their appetite for information, the universal need for secure transactions, and the demand for transparency are already guiding the buyer's relationship to brands. Blockchain can help answer these demands by guaranteeing the origin of goods as well as the security of the transaction."
While the cloud is very popular it might be moving into a fog. Computer scientists at the University of Camerino (Italy) have developed a new concept that spreads data across many servers, with no single location. It uses virtual buffers to endlessly relocate data packets without a file ever being complete in one place. They're calling it fog computing.
"Our proposal is based on this idea of a service which renders information completely immaterial in the sense that for a given period of time there is no place on earth that contains information complete in its entirety," say Rosario Culmone and Maria Concetta De Vivo, who developed the concept.
"We want to realize a fog of files rather than a cloud."
The worldwide market for 3-D printers and its associated materials and services will grow to $20.2 billion by 2019, according to Canlys.
Supply chains are about to make a fundamental shift. Where traditionally supply chains followed something like the SCOR model (plan, source, make, deliver, return), 3-D printing is innovating that model and putting consumers in the driver’s seat.
A recent study from IDC forecasts about 160 million wearables shipped in 2019, with more than 120 million of them headed for your wrist. (For the sake of comparison, about 25 million wearables shipped in 2014, and close to 80 million shipped last year.)
Connected glasses, modular and clothing will make up almost all of the remaining quarter.
These types of tools are used to help companies design networks to produce, store and distribute products more efficiently and effectively, with customer service being a key. As the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report points out, companies are increasingly demandiing speed, visibility and transparency from their supply chain partners to meet customer expectations, wihch creates pressure down the supply chain.
Once thought of as mostly a retail-centric concern, "on-demand" is now impacting companies regardless of size, industry or position in the supply chain. Solutions that can optimize an inventory or supply chain network are very much in demand now, with half the survey respondents considering such tools a disruptive technology.
In 2013, about 20 million sensors were estimated to be in use in supply chains. In 2022, that number is expected to grow to 1 trillion, and by 2030, the Deloitte and MHI report projects 10 trillion sensors will be deployed.
In the not-so-distant future truck drivers will find themselves in close quarters with colleagues. This new pattern of driving, known as platooning, calls for a number of trucks to follow each other very closely so they can take advantage of the aerodynamics and save fuel.
The lead truck sets the pace. Through the integration of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications with state-of-the-art, radar-based collision avoidance systems, the technology synchronizes braking and acceleration between pairs of trucks. This communication ensures that the trucks travel safely at aerodynamic following distances.
Platoons can be managed continuously by a cloud-based network operations center that connects to trucks through cellular and Wi-Fi communications. Cloud-based supervision limits operation of platoons to specified roads in safe driving conditions.
In the past, complex supply chains were typically seen more as impediments than advantages. Thanks to the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), however, that complexity can now be leveraged to produce actionable data from every step of the cycle.
Locating materials, servicing equipment and monitoring the productivity and efficiency of the system as a whole are all improved significantly thanks to new data sources.
With the proliferation of Big Data throughout every area of a company's supply chain, being able to make some kind of sense of it is extremely important, and then being able to use that data in a strategically meaningful way becomes even more important. Predictive analytics apply statistical modeling and data mining techniques to the data in an effort to formulate a forward-looking view of the supply chain.
Randy Bradley, a professor of information systems and supply chain management at the University of Tennessee and one of the members at the ProMat 2017 panel on disruptive technologies, points out that high-performing organizations are "five times more likely to be more analytics-driven than intuition-based with respect to decision-making," compared to low-performing organizations.
Since 2015, the number of survey respondents who believe predictive analytics will become a disruptive technology has jumped from 38% to 57%.
The last-mile delivery will soon be the territory of robots. A six-wheeled, knee-high robot from startup Starship Technologies will deliver parcels, groceries and prepared foods in Washington, D.C., and Redwood City, Calif.
The goal is to enable delivery within a radius of two miles within 15 to 30 minutes of an order, for $1 or less, with the autonomous robots traveling on sidewalks and alerting consumers of their arrival via smartphone app.
Starship spokesman Henry Harris-Burland says the founders were looking to “disrupt” an industry that had seen little efficiency improvement from new technology. “We’re trying to solve real social and economic problems,":he says. "This will take cars and vans off the road."
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