In early November, my colleague Steve Banker wrote an article looking at the top supply chain trends for 2023 and beyond. Unlike some of the other trends articles we have covered at Logistics Viewpoints, which take a deeper dive into technology and application specific trends, this article looked at the top trends executives need to be paying attention to before their strategic planning meetings commence. While we look ahead to the future, I think it is also important to look back on the year that was. So, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the top 15 most popular logistics stories from 2022 and see what our readers found to be the most interesting. It was a good mix of topics and authors, including a good number from our Logistics Viewpoints sponsors. So, let’s take a look now at the 15 most popular logistics stories of 2022.
- Top Five Transportation Trends; Chris Cunnane
Supply chain disruptions have brought about an age of innovation. From a transportation standpoint, this has included major technological advancements. Last week, I gave the keynote presentation at the Dangerous Goods Symposium, sponsored by LabelMaster and the DG Exchange. In my presentation, I highlighted five key transportation trends that are changing supply chains from a technology standpoint. These trends and technologies include the network effect, innovation in transportation management systems, time slot management applications, autonomous trucks, and the future of last mile deliveries, specifically looking at autonomous mobile robots and drones for home delivery.
- 2022 Supply Chain Predictions; Chris Cunnane, Steve Banker, and Clint Reiser
ARC analysts have published predictions about supply chain technology trends at the beginning of the year in past years. This year we have decided to lead with our predictions about the broader supply chain function – as supply chain itself has become such a hot topic in executive suites, corporate earnings, general news media, and even our own personal lives.
- Top 20 Warehouse Automation Suppliers Worldwide; Clint Reiser
ARC Advisory Group began conducting formalized research on the global warehouse automation market in 2014. Looking back, I estimated the market in 2013 at $6.4 billion globally, and I forecast it to grow to $9.9 billion in 2019. Well, how often do you hear industry analysts say they underestimated a market’s growth rate? Well, I am saying it. I underestimated the growth by $2 billion. Fast forward 5 years, and ARC’s 2019 base-year study estimated the market at $11.9 billion. In my own defense, things kind of took off after 2014. I picked a good time to cover what is now well-known to be a hot market consisting of many successful warehouse automation suppliers.
- COVID Has Fundamentally Changed the Profession of Supply Chain Management; Steve Banker
It is common for pundits to look ahead and predict how an industry or profession will change. Sometimes, it can be more insightful to look backwards and note the chances that have occurred over the last several years. The changes to the profession of supply chain management are dramatic.
- The Benefits of Time Slot Management; Chris Cunnane
Time slot management helps to organize warehouse resources to prepare for an incoming truck. The warehouse needs to know who is coming and when, which begins with the estimated time of arrival. Beyond that, warehouse workers need updates on what dock the truck is arriving, when the truck is loaded, what papers they will pick up, what needs to be signed, and when they are leaving the warehouse or yard. While time slot management applications work as a stand-alone application, it is more valuable when it is integrated into with other applications on a common platform such as warehouse- and yard management or visibility solutions.
- Inventory Management in a High Inflation Environment; Clint Reiser
Earlier this month my colleagues and I published our 2022 Supply Chain Predications. One of my predictions within that article is that inflation will hinder supply chain resiliency efforts. My stated logic was that inflation pressures would deter companies from engaging in higher cost efforts such as commissioning new warehouse locations to minimize disruption risks. Instead, they are likely to carry higher levels of inventory as a lower cost alternative to minimizing disruptions. I will describe in this article some ways in which carrying higher levels of inventory can be an efficient means of inventory and risk management in an inflationary environment.
- Can Improving Forecast Accuracy Address Our Demand Planning Woes?; Polly-Mitchell Guthrie (Kinaxis)
If “the forecast is always wrong,” is improving forecast accuracy even the solution to our demand planning woes? In times that continue to defy our ability to predict them, the words of famous statistician George Box have never been more right: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” So what can we do to make models more useful? Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) can improve forecast accuracy, but a bigger problem is the failure to set accurate expectations around forecasting models, not the accuracy of the models themselves. For supply chains to get more use from their models, we need to “trust the box;” recognize that models are not the holy grail; and remember that a forecast is an input into making better decisions, not an end in and of itself.
- Beware the Swinging Pendulum on Supply Chain Inventory Practices; Polly-Mitchell Guthrie (Kinaxis)
Supply shortages resulting in empty shelves or parking lots of WIP inventory represent a spectre causing supply chain leaders to reconsider supply chain inventory practices. Opinions of just-in-time (JIT) as a practice has taken a battering and inventory is rising. Calls are increasing for a return to just-in-case (JIC) policies, with some citing this trend as a risk. Because switching from JIT to JIC is at best only a tool to address short-term problems and risk. Concurrent planning offers an alternative to swinging the pendulum and as the strategy that provides the supply chain resilience leaders seek.
- Five Advanced Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Logistics; Terence Leung (Blue Yonder)
Already upended for two years by the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide logistics industry is facing new challenges. With gasoline prices reaching record highs, transportation managers must make smarter decisions that minimize road miles and associated costs. While demand is high, ongoing product shortages continue to cause supply chain disruptions, create unpredictable shopping behaviors and drive rapid delivery expectations. The industry’s well-documented labor shortages are not ending anytime soon. The energy crisis in China and the European conflict are bringing additional chaos in the form of production shutdowns, raw material shortages and blocked shipping lanes.
- Gordon Food Services Conquers the Last Mile; Chris Cunnane
Over the last couple of years, as the Covid pandemic has changed the way consumers interact and shop with retailers, brands, and consumer goods companies, last mile delivery has become increasingly important. Customer expectations for expedited delivery are becoming more commonplace, in both the B2B and B2C world. And as the lines continue to blur between B2B and B2C, and the model expands to a B2B2C focus, order fulfillment processes become more complex. I recently interviewed Al Contreras, Innovation Manager at Gordon Food Service to understand how the company handles last mile deliveries, the role visibility plays, and how a last mile solution has impacted their business.
- Supply Chain Predictions for 2022 and Beyond; Dr. Madhav Durbha (Coupa)
As I was enjoying the holidays, I had an opportunity to reflect on the year past and what the future holds for supply chains. Wanted to share these thoughts here.
- The Top Three Keys to Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience during National Returns Week; Kushal Nahata (FarEye)
Each year in the United States, the return of goods purchased for the holidays usually peaks on one day in early January; the volume is so significant the day has been designated National Returns Day. This year, due to an increased number of e-commerce purchases, retailers and shippers will experience National Returns Week.
- Autonomous Truck Trends for 2022 and Beyond: Can Autonomy Safely Address the Driver Shortage?; Steve Banker and Chris Cunnane
When does a technology really grow? When it is attached to a need. When it comes to the movement of freight, one megatrend driving the need for better technology is the driver shortage. What would most revolutionize trucking over the next few years? The most obvious answer is autonomous trucking. But when will this technology become operational? Will it take decades? A decade? Or can we get there in the next few years? That is the core question.
- Inflation in 2022: Is the Bullwhip Effect to Blame for Retail Inventory Glut?; Clint Reiser
Last week I saw a news headline from the Washington Post stating Michael Burry’s ‘Bullwhip’ Tweet Deserves Serious Attention. Michael Burry (@michaeljburry) is most well-known as the hedge fund manager portrayed by Christian Bale in the movie “The Big Short.” His track record justifiably garners many followers on Twitter – 895,000 according to the account. Michael Burry’s tweet stated that the supply glut at retail is a result of the Bullwhip Effect and that there will be deflationary pulses from this. Deflationary pulses are important to understand in our current environment of widespread inflation and a recent commitment to tighter monetary policy to reign it in. Deflationary pulses seem counter intuitive in this environment, kind of a like an undertow at the beach. This talk of deflation caught me off guard. As a supply chain analyst and an economics enthusiast, I was curious to learn more. I did a little digging to find out the specifics about excess inventory, the stated causes, and the potential implications. Here’s my take on the topic.
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): Growth Accelerated in 2021; Clint Reiser
I just completed the data gathering process for ARC’s global Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) market research study. Although I have not yet completed the market forecast, I certainly have a good feel for what the WMS market experienced in 2021. As expected, WMS solution providers (in aggregate) experienced accelerated growth. This above-trend growth is primarily a result of the longer-term factors influencing the markets’ growth, supplemented by a surge in pent-up demand from COVID-19 related hesitancy in 2020. A number of factors are currently influencing both the growth of the market and the shift in WMS users’ requirements and priorities.
That’s our list of most popular logistics stories for 2022. We look forward to seeing what the top logistics stories will be for 2023 and beyond.