Often times at Logistics Viewpoints, we like to look to the future and highlight the key trends that we see in a given market, or make predictions about what technologies will emerge as game changers in the new year. Just last week, my colleague Clint Reiser wrote an article about the top logistics and supply chain conferences to attend in 2024. 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 2023 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 2023.
5 Supply Chain Predictions for 2023; Dr. Madhav Durbha (Coupa Software)
So much has changed in a year! While the supply chain pressures that have built up over the last two years continue to abate as transportation capacity problems ease and consumption shifts from goods to services, newer challenges and opportunities lie ahead. As costs pressures build up, organizations need to get creative in increasing the focus on cost optimization while ensuring resilience and business continuity. As we turn the page on 2022, I’d like to make five supply chain predictions about what to expect for 2023.
Best Logistics and Supply Chain Conferences to Attend in 2023; Clint Reiser
Welcome 2023! And with the new year comes an increasing return to in-person supply chain conferences and trade shows. 2021 was the trough with in-person events severely limited. Last year brought in a revival of events, but with a few still either provided virtually or postponed for one more year. This year I believe we will not only see a return to the prior number of events, but also record attendance. Some provide what I consider to be the best content. Others provide better learning opportunities. And still others provide the best networking opportunities. This year I am especially looking forward to ProMat. If you haven’t attended recently, it is an unmatched display of warehouse automation, robotics, and software systems. You name the provider, and they are present.
The Promise and Peril of Generative AI for Supply Chains; Polly Mitchell-Guthrie (Kinaxis)
“Our rules of thumb are no longer up to the challenge.” This description by a Chief Supply Chain Officer of the state of the supply chain he found in his new role stuck with me. The tumult of our times has accelerated interest in artificial intelligence (AI) for help more advanced than rules, and ChatGPT’s release has rocketed this already-explosive growth. Its remarkable capabilities seem like magic. But I’d like AI more to a magic trick, so allow me to direct your attention to the technology behind the curtain to highlight both its risks and its rewards and to share the essential leadership skills AI cannot provide.
5 Principles for Navigating the Digital Fog Around AI in Supply Chain; Polly Mitchell-Guthrie (Kinaxis)
The scariest drive of my life took place on a summer’s night in the North Carolina mountains returning from a longer-than-expected hike. The Blue Ridge Parkway is usually a magical drive in the clouds, but it turned frightening as dusk and fog descended, reducing visibility to ten feet. I was torn between twin impulses – speeding up so we could descend out of the fog and slowing down to keep from careening off the mountain to the left or into a ditch on the right. It took intense concentration and a white-knuckle grip on the wheel to emerge safely. CSCOs feel similarly overwhelmed navigating the intense digital fog surrounding AI in supply chain, so I offer five principles for navigation.
Top 6 Retail Trends & Supply Chain Planning Challenges in 2023; Asena Denizeri (Solvoyo)
Retailers know firsthand how quickly the market can change. One day, a product is flying off the shelves, and the next, it’s gathering dust. That’s why staying on top of the latest supply chain planning trends is so important – they can make all the difference when it comes to staying competitive, reducing costs, and meeting your customers’ needs. Here are some highlights from these trends in 2023 and implications on supply chain planning.
Supply Chain Shortages Hit the Customer Where it Hurts; Chris Cunnane
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, nearly three years after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, supply chains are back to normal. Actually, when looking a bit closer at the numbers, supply pressures actually fell below normal. Zero marks the historical average, and changes in either direction mark standard deviations from that trend. The February reading in the New York Fed’s Global Supply Chain Pressure Index was -0.26, reaching negative territory for the first time since August 2019. Maximum disruptions pushed the gauge to a peak of 4.31 in December 2021. However, before we go congratulating ourselves too much, supply chain shortages are still hitting the consumer where it hurts – in their wallet (and their taste buds).
The Southwest Airlines Debacle – What Really Happened; Steve Banker
In all, Southwest has canceled about 15,700 flights since winter weather began disrupting air travel on December 22, far more than other airlines. A week after severe winter weather wreaked havoc on holiday air travel across the United States, other major carriers were back up and running. Not Southwest. The press has done a good job of reporting the impact on passengers, but they have done a bad job on reporting why Southwest performed so badly.
Körber CEO Discusses Warehouse Labor Management, Engagement, and Retention; Clint Reiser
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with Chad Collins, CEO of Körber Supply Chain Software. Chad and I discussed the widespread labor constraints impacting warehouse operations across North America and Europe. I told Chad that I believe warehouse labor constraints will continue for extended time, and that warehouses must actively manage with this in mind. I asked him to provide his perspective on today’s warehouse labor dynamics. I also asked, what are the ways in which management can improve engagement with warehouse workers? And finally, what warehouse technologies can help improve associates’ job satisfaction, productivity, and safety?
Below are some key points from our discussion as well as the full video interview.
Last Mile Delivery, Visibility, and Vehicle Capacity; Chris Cunnane
One of the most difficult and expensive aspects of the supply chain is last mile delivery. However, from a customer experience standpoint, it is also the most memorable and possibly important. Last mile delivery has become an increasingly hot topic, as companies look at ways to optimize final mile deliveries.
APQC conducts research on supply chain and logistics to help organizations assess the performance of their own processes and functions compared to their peers. Most recently, APQC has conducted best practice and benchmarking research on last mile delivery. This survey-based research gathers quantitative data as well as information on practices or performance drivers. This survey focuses on the current state of key practices in last mile logistics, spread across multiple industries and over 1,100 respondents.
How Can CIOs Accelerate Supply Chain Transformation? Think Less Planning, More Real-Time Decision-Making; Mathew Elenjickal (FourKites)
As an engineer, former solutions architect and now CEO of a leading supply chain technology company, I have a real affinity and respect for Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their teams, without whom successful enterprise technology deployments would be impossible. That’s why I value the time I get with CIOs every bit as much as I value time with CFOs, CSCOs and supply chain professionals of every stripe. Recently, I’ve been asking CIOs the “What keeps you up at night?” question as it relates to the operations and performance of company supply chains.
Welcome to A Day at ProMat 2023; Clint Reiser
ProMat 2023 is being held this week, March 202 -23 in Chicago. I spent the full day yesterday roaming the floor and meeting with exhibitors. For those of you that were unable to attend, this article will provide a thorough second-hand experience of a day at this expansive exhibit. ProMat 2023 occupied both McCormick Place South and McCormick Place North with over 1,000 exhibitors. Automate was not co-located with ProMat as it has been in years past.
What are Digital Twins and How Can They Drive Warehouse Efficiency?; Mark McCleary (Lucas Systems)
The concept of digital twins has emerged as a powerful foundational tool to drive improvements in warehouse productivity and efficiency. To define what exactly it is, a digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset, process, or system. In the warehouse context, a digital twin can be created to represent the physical layout, inventory, equipment, and workflows of a warehouse. But do you really need to look specifically at digital twin solutions, or might some of these already be available in the automation you already have? Let’s start by looking at the true benefits of digital twin concepts and what they can specifically mean to bringing productivity and efficiency gains to you operation.
The Warehouse Execution System: A New Competitive Imperative; Terence Leung (Blue Yonder)
In today’s fast-paced, hyper-competitive, omni-channel world, warehouses play a critical role in maximizing service and fulfilling the ambitious customer promises that are required today. Warehouses also represent an enormous cost center. Companies annually spend about $325 billion on warehousing — and 85% of that cost goes to operating expenses that include labor, space and equipment.
Why is o9 Solutions Growing So Fast?; Steve Banker
There are several young supply chain software companies that are unicorns. A unicorn has a valuation of over $1 billion. One of the more interesting is o9 Solutions. In January of 2022, Dallas-based o9 Solutions was valued at $2.7 billion after a funding round. Based on their growth, the company may be worth even more now. This January the company reported that its annual recurring revenue grew at over 84% year-over-year.
Simmons Foods’ Approach to Transportation Spend; Steve Banker
Simmons Foods, and its affiliates, are suppliers of poultry, pet, and animal nutrition products. This family-owned business is headquartered in Siloam Springs Arkansas in the US. Simmons Foods has a little over $100 million in transportation spend spread across dedicated contract carriers, a private fleet, and brokers. The transportation team supports 13 production facilities. The company moves 46,000 shipments per year using dry van, temperature controlled, hoppers, live haul, and other trucks as well.
That’s our list of most popular logistics stories for 2023. We look forward to seeing what the top logistics stories will be for 2024 and beyond.