Key factors for the supply chains in 2017

Key factors for the supply chains in 2017

We have already seen in this same blog some of the trends that will be shaping the 2017 scenario for logistics companies and we talked about the use of magnetic fields, artificial intelligence, and personalization. This time we are going to take a wider look at the supply chain and how it is going to be impacted or is already being impacted by some key factors and approaches that are shaping the present and the future of logistics and that many companies should now be aware of.  

Warehouse Robotics

We have already talked about this and it is well-known around the world that automation is a tool that many big companies use with great results. The thing is that it used to be limited to workflow automation that requires advanced warehouse management systems. Now companies are aiming at full automation and are using robotics because robotic solutions offer the companies the possibility of using automation in distribution centers without the needs of big changes to the structure of the company.

Take automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for example, that have been around for years now. Well, the idea this time is to have AGVs that can pick orders from conventional racking and not only take goods to the picker using very special racking and conveyance equipment.

Autonomous Road Transportation

The autonomous truck development has been around for years but has not been properly tested. There have been some trials and errors in Australia and United States but now advances have been made. For example, automated trucks have already been a reality in Western Australia and in the  United States, Anheiser Busch recently moved a truck full of goods from point A to point B without a driver.  All of this makes us think that in 2017 we will only see autonomous vehicle development strengthen as a progressive logistics trend.

Image courtesy of Ken Conley at

Supply Chain Social Responsibility

Social responsibility is very trendy nowadays in the corporate world and it is has made its way into the logistics world due to legal actions and to the pressures of legislation and public opinion.

CSR will be applied by even more service providers and chain and logistics organizations that will harvest the benefits of such approach.  

The Race for the Last Mile

This is the most cost-intensive part of the supply chain because it is where goods are actually transported from distribution centers to retail stores or the consumer’s front door and with the Omni-channel retail gaining strength the demand for that last minute delivery increases even more. Retailers are smart and are now using the last mile companies to make their deliveries. So, in  2017 there will be a rise in crowd-sourcing and specialized last-mile service providers to cover the demand that shippers have of using alternatives to parcel carrier services or in-house distribution fleet ownership.

Crowd-sourced transportation like uber style rides could be especially useful for small deliveries of goods or bicycles and rollerblades can be used by carriers to move goods within a flat city.

An innovative example for this could be to place locally situated public “smart lockers” where deliveries can be dropped off and the consumer can then collect it whenever he or she wants. Also, the click-and-collect services will grow and retailers will have to be prepared with floor space for such deliveries and with logistics using companies that cover that last mile of delivery.

The Virtual Logistics Team

Virtual teams are becoming even more common as it saves a lot of expenses on transportation and enables the company to be international and to have communication with its subsidiaries. Take for example the cloud, where many supply chains are now being uploaded and that gives the companies the benefits of having the information whenever they want it wherever they want it.  Dispatch planning is a very good example of this. In the past, a lot of the larger companies had planners in each location and now they have moved to centralized planning which makes it easier to move and to change thousands of deliveries each day. Also,  planning software and real-time communication make it easier for planners to be on top of their projects and deliveries from their homes and not sitting in a central office because they can give their load and route plans directly to the truck drivers using devices or printers at the distribution centers.

In fact, many operations such as the back office or purchasing, general administration, and even certain management positions within a company can be made from home enabling the company to use more space for storage rather than for offices and desks.

Did you like this post? Be sure to also read this post about other 2017 logistic trends that will be hitting the market soon.

* Featured Image courtesy of RoboCup2013 at

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