The Supply Chain Roundup | How to Prepare for Uncertainty

Tom Ryder
Mar 14, 2022 9:00:00 AM

Last time, we said that “2022 promises to remain a rollercoaster” and that turns out to have been an understatement. While we can’t possibly keep you up-to-date with the firehose of information that is the state of the world, the Supply Chain Roundup can curate the most valuable and innovative takes on supply chains, logistics, and material handling. If you'd like to sign up to receive it via email once a month, please subscribe (if you don’t already)!

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Supply Chain Insights
News from around the Industry 

Supply Chain Insights

  • The pandemic has exposed issues with returns, particularly in fast fashion, which has grown exponentially over the past few years. Read more about the unexpected ways retailers are dealing with the asynchronous processes of sales and returns. 
  • How will the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting conflict and Russian sanctions affect the supply chain? Gartner analysts named 6 potential issues if escalation continues.
  • The “very concept of a return to normalcy” in terms of the global supply chain is fading and giving way to the idea that the old normal won’t be back for a while—if ever.
  • The mystery of the disappearing chocolate milk isn’t the title of a Hardy Boys book; it’s a microcosm of the sometimes baffling supply chain issues that industries are facing.

Automation

  • If you’re worried about inflation, this article posts that the use of robotics and automation (with Amazon setting the bar) will lead to big economic productivity gains that will be a “formidable counterpoint to inflationary pressures.”
  • More flexible systems and robots inspired by vertical ant colonies are facilitating smaller, denser warehouses located closer to consumers. 
  • With 5 billion pallets in circulation and only 4.5 million human forklift operators, AMRs are a good way to optimize resources and reduce—or at least mitigate—job turnover. 
  • In this industry survey of distribution leaders, only 25% characterize their facilities as “even moderately automated.”

Sustainability

  • A new study of 25 of the world’s largest companies shows that 23 of them are significantly underdelivering on their emission-reduction pledges. Most of the companies are on track to reduce by only 40% on average, not the 100% suggested by the term “net zero.” 
  • What’s expected to happen with clean hydrogen in 2022? Here are 10 predictions.

Smart Ideas from Smart People

  • “Our biggest criteria for new hires is a willingness to learn. ‘30% of what we learned in 2017 is obsolete today. We ask candidates what have you learned in the last six months outside of school?’” - Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture on The David Rubenstein Show
  • "Hiring should always be part of your long-term strategy, not a quick fix to an immediate problem."— Steven J. Bowen

Interesting Stuff

  • At a prototype Whole Foods store in Washington DC, Amazon is testing “Just Walk Out” technology that charges customers with an account, no cashier necessary.
  • This article is a good reminder is that we all need to prepare for the uncertainty ahead. This means not waiting to think through your manufacturing and distribution, as well as your supply chain processes.

Resource of the Month
From the TFS Team

Material handling is a top 15 expenditure for manufacturers and distributors. At large facilities, it is typically a top 3 expense that drives productivity.

Material handling is also complex, labor-intensive, and if you get it wrong, it'll have cascading impacts on your operations. Does this sound all too familiar to you? If so, the TFS Flash Fleet Assessment is the first step to help you.

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