The requirements for global logistics and, in direct connection with it, the requirements for supply chain management have changed a lot in recent years. Technical progress, stronger global networking, digitization and the increasingly important environmental aspect pose great challenges for the supply chains of tomorrow. In addition, we have to currently face a global pandemic, which causes major challenges for many industries, but at the same time requires quick solutions to certain problems and drives changes.
Supply chains should be transparent, sustainable, intelligent and resilient in order to meet the demands of the modern world.
The following topics will likely have the most importance in supply chain management in 2021:
Since the supply chains have been constantly affected by economic uncertainty and delivery difficulties in the last few months, a transparent supply chain plays a key role. Companies need comprehensive information on the processes in their own supply chain in order to be able to react promptly to problems. Transparency can primarily be achieved through the use of new technologies and the networking of processes.
» Digitization & Automation
Last year, the corona crisis and social distancing meant that many companies were forced to quickly take a step towards digitization in order not to lose touch with the market. Manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers need to work together even closer, to digitize processes and make them transparent in order to be able to react to short-term economic and social changes. Digital supply chains offer precise data that is necessary as a basis for (production) decisions. Subsequently, this data also supports the automation of processes within the supply chain. Automation makes it possible to become faster and more flexible and to be able to deal better with short-term changes. In order to be able to implement automation, many companies are now working with ERP software, WMS and additional software add-ons that automate tasks from inventory optimization to shipping, minimize errors and thus increase productivity.
Other modern technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, cloud solutions and the Internet of Things are also increasingly finding their way into the supply chains of the future and will change the supply chain management. (Read more about this in our other news articles)
The risks for global supply chains are enormous at the moment and require a crisis-proof set-up. Regardless of whether you look at the uncertain global political situation, the pandemic, weather, supplier insolvency, increased logistics costs or new import and export duties, they all endanger the smooth flow of supply chains. Thus, the issues of risk management and security of supply are becoming more and more important. Companies must be able to react quickly and flexibly to changes or failures in order to secure their position in the market. To achieve this, a transparent and digitized supply chain that enables agile action is necessary. Continuous shipment tracking, real-time information and correct data are essential.
Environment, climate protection and sustainable behaviour are in the focus of the public and customers now often make purchase decisions with these aspects in mind. The pressure to satisfy these consumer needs also affects logistics decision-makers and presents them with new challenges. Sustainable packaging, transportation and delivery routes are becoming important aspects. In addition, transparency of all processes and a complete proof of origin of the goods are required.
» Regional instead of global
One topic that has kept many companies very busy in the last few months is the global availability of goods. In recent months, there have been frequent delivery problems due to the pandemic. This has prompted companies to think more about the use of locally produced goods in order not to be completely dependent on materials produced abroad. Domestic production is also in the focus because it promotes the economy in the region and creates jobs. These aspects are particularly important in times of crisis.
Cf. Hermes Supply Chain Blog, SCM 2021: Transparenz, Risikomanagement, Nachhaltigkeit, accessed 14.04.2021
Cf. All things supply chain, Supply Chain Trends of 2021, accessed 14.04.2021
Cf. easzystock, Supply Chain Trends und Maßnahmen für 2021, accessed 14.04.2021
Cf. Logistik heute, Supply Chain Management: Das sind die zehn Top-Trends im Jahr 2021, accessed 14.04.2021
Cf. Greencarrier, 5 Global Supply Chain and Logistics trends 2021, accessed 14.04.2021