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The majority of the key trends in the supply chain for 2020 will be a continuation of what took place in 2019 and the years before. The industry continues to undergo significant levels of change whose intentions are to increase productivity, quality and efficiency of service. More is on the way taking into account digital transformation that is revolutionizing everything. This industry has become a backbone of many other sectors that see it as critical in realizing their goals. It is fast becoming a leading source of competitive advantage to many companies in the modern digital economy.  2020 will be another defining year for the supply chain industry and these are the predictions of what you should expect.

Machine learning will be widely adopted

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) were buzzwords in 2019. As these concepts continue making way into many spheres of human life, the supply chain is ready to implement innovative AI and machine learning technologies that will accelerate processes. We should expect more of AI devices, software and applications in 2020 and beyond. Large amounts of data are prevalent now more than before in modern supply chains due to increased connectivity and enhancements in computing. Machine learning applies to different logistics technologies. It is now used to enhance warehouse management, supply chain visibility and robotic vision as well as planning. Fulfillment operations will benefit in the future as machine learning is applied more extensively in 2020 moving into the future.

Labor automation

Automation is an area that is growing rapidly in many industries. The same is happening in the supply chain, where different automation strategies are underway to reduce the cost of production and increase efficiency. Automation is expected to increase this year due to the anticipated shortages of blue-collar labor because of increased online shopping that is increasing demand for delivery drivers. Driverless trucks are now under development as a practical solution to the low number of delivery drivers. Other areas that will see increased automation of tasks are customer support, packaging, and warehouse management, among others.

Outsourcing

As globalization takes shape, companies will increasingly outsource logistics business services to companies overseas or to technology companies that enhance areas such as order processing, inventory, and tracking of shipment. Outsourcing has in the past helped in cost reduction while also assisting companies in getting the best talent and technology.

Blockchain

Blockchain has altered how financial transactions are conducted and is proving to be a game-changer in many other industries. Aspects that defined blockchain such as immutability, traceability, transparency and improved security saw some logistics companies integrating this technology into their operations in the past year. Logistics companies are highly likely to invest more in this technology in the future to enhance transparency and to trace packages from source to destination. Although some logistics companies have already embraced blockchain, 2020 will see more investments in this space as enterprises seek ways to enhance their operations.

Robotics

As competition in the supply chain domain continues heating up, logistics companies are looking for efficient and cheap ways of beating the competition. One such method is robotics that showed its importance in 2019. In 2020, robotics is likely to take over many repetitive tasks that were initially handled by human workers. Some of the tasks that robots have proven efficient in are packaging, warehouse planning, and inventory management. This year, robotics is expected to increasingly make entry to the supply chain sector as companies look for ways to increase competitiveness and leverage technology.

2020 is the year of change in the supply chain. The changes experienced this year will alter not only the supply chain industry but will also impact the manufacturing and retail sectors. While some of the above predictions are specifically focused on this year, the impact of almost all of them will be felt for many years to come.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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