The global nature of today’s supply chain makes it more complex than ever — but also particularly susceptible to inefficiencies. These inefficiencies not only lead to the ineffective use of company time and resources while achieving suboptimal results, but often exacerbate the supply chain’s negative effects on the environment. We spoke with Blume Global CIO and Head of Customer Success, Yamini Vellore, to get her take on the most pertinent issues and inefficiencies facing the global supply chain and how new technologies can help alleviate these pain points.
What are some of the major problems that the global supply chain is currently facing, and what are some of the inefficiencies these problems have caused?
The supply chain ecosystem today is more complex than ever due to continuous technological disruption, unprecedented customer expectations, rising standards and an increasing demand for transparency and ethics. All these problems create a wide array of inefficiencies across all aspects of the supply chain. For example, consumer expectations of immediate access to online retail goods puts pressure on the quality and safety compliances that must be met when manufacturing finished goods and products from raw materials. At the same time, the disruption in the delay of the flow of goods caused by weather events, environmental, geopolitical and other risk factors can cause difficulties in maintaining product integrity of valuable and/or time-sensitive shipments. Furthermore, when these products are being transported across global borders, changing international regulations and policies (including but not limited to tariffs) can cause congestion and delays at ports, as well as increased processing time for customs.
Are there technologies currently available that could help alleviate these inefficiencies?
Yes, with the key being leveraging automated technology to orchestrate a highly-digitized supply chain with data-driven precision, agility and speed. By leveraging innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), predictive and prescriptive analytics, big data, blockchain, robotic process automation and IoT, it’s possible to create a vibrant, and effective supply chain ecosystem — one that’s collaborative and purposeful.
How could these technologies be most useful?
To start, AI plays a significant role in modernizing supply chains, as it can enable better agility and precision, creating greater efficiencies and a decrease in costs where repetitive manual tasks can be automated. Additionally, in the case of tariffs, real-time data analysis and AI-powered optimization can support the sourcing and inventory management required to alleviate their impact. For example, the application of real-time AI analysis to port congestion data, enables companies to anticipate potential logistics delays at ports from pre-tariff traffic and make alternate arrangements if delays would impact deadlines.
IoT devices can help address some of the inefficiencies associated with visibility challenges. They can be attached to vehicles, storage containers or goods and provide a constant update of their location. Access to this live location data enables organizations to track their deliveries with real-time shipment visibility, providing insights into first- and last-mile pickups, delivery milestones and shipment status across all modes.
Predictive and prescriptive analytics and ML can prove useful in managing supply and demand planning. Supply and demand can vary greatly based on seasonal trends, promotions, consumer needs, competition and new products hitting the market. However, predictive and prescriptive analytics can help supply chain managers to better understand and anticipate future demands, and analyze the likely impact on inventory levels according to specific demand-planning decisions.
Additional insights from Yamini Vellore on innovative technological solutions to supply chain inefficiencies can be found in Freightwaves.