Five important developments for 2022


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Reliable supply chains are the backbone of the economy, but recently they have been repeatedly disrupted. Companies that drive their digitalization forward find it easier to meet the growing demands in logistics.

The supply chains of German companies have been under pressure since the beginning of the corona pandemic and the likelihood of this changing in the short term is rather low. Anyone who knows the following five trends in logistics can make supply chains more robust and sustainable.

1. Digitization of logistics increases resilience

According to a recent study, the pandemic is accelerating the digitization of logistics and supply chain management in more than half of industrial companies. Those responsible can react more agile to unexpected situations. And thus position yourself more resiliently in the supply chain overall, for example through the forward-looking optimization of inventories or container availability. In addition, real-time warning systems predict bottlenecks at an early stage and offer recommendations for action. In addition, new early warning systems can monitor social networks, which are often the first to report on crisis situations, which saves time.

2. Cooperation offers competitive advantages

So far, companies have rarely relied on cross-company cooperation. However, cooperation with other manufacturers, dealers or service providers, for example in transport, production and storage, creates major competitive advantages. The exchange of information on stocks, production plans, container pools, requirements and sales figures allows more precise planning and a more robust design of supply chains. This is because not only the perspective of a single company is taken.

The joint planning of goods flows can also make better use of transport routes and transport capacities. This offers enormous cost advantages and makes it easier to achieve sustainability goals. However, such cooperation requires trust and transparency – and digital technologies for a smooth exchange of information and data-supported controlling.

3. Employees come into focus

A shortage of skilled workers, fluctuation and digitization make it urgently necessary to rethink the world of work. After all, the logistics industry is already short of 60,000 to 80,000 professional drivers and countless dispatchers and warehouse workers. During the pandemic, digital workforce planning has already helped many companies to react optimally to unexpected peaks or employee absences.

But the benefit goes beyond that: By using intelligent, digital tools, companies are making themselves more employee-friendly. Employee interests can be reconciled with operational requirements and the opportunity to participate increases. “New Work” thus sheds the tight corset of the home office and, as “Digital Work”, is also within reach for commercial employees. More flexible working time models can even be implemented where shift work has previously been clearly regulated.

4. Hybrid fleets improve intralogistics

Most industrial companies still rely primarily on forklifts for internal plant transport. Automated guided vehicle systems (DTS) are being used in more and more areas, but a lack of compatibility in the communication and control of different AGVs with each other or between AGVs and means of transport with human drivers impedes efficient use. The success of AGV stands and falls with the use of a transport control system that networks the AGV and manually controlled floor conveyors and can control all vehicles from a meta perspective.

In the form of VDA 5050, there is a standardized interface for communication between autonomous vehicles and such a control system that companies should use. After all, AGVs are not suitable for every type of goods to be transported, for example if the containers do not meet the standard. A hybrid vehicle fleet with a transport control system that works in real time is often the best solution so that the entire order network works optimally and there are as few empty trips as possible.

5.Sustainability of logistics becomes a must

Both the customer’s desire for environmentally friendly products manufactured under fair conditions and the new supply chain law make sustainable logistics indispensable for companies. They not only have to monitor the working conditions within their own supply chains and at direct suppliers, but also react to misconduct at downstream suppliers. In addition, the CO2 pollution of preliminary products and purchased parts is becoming an increasingly important factor in the selection of offers, alongside price and delivery time. Intelligent supplier management that takes environmental aspects into account becomes a decisive competitive advantage.

Inform Berlit
Matthias Berlit is Managing Director at Inform GmbH. (Image: Inform)

“The challenges in logistics will not get any smaller in 2022, but companies are successfully meeting them with innovative digital solutions and are making themselves more resilient, sustainable and employee-friendly. Anyone who does not seize the opportunity now and initiate digitization projects will forego competitive advantages and will be left behind by the competition in the years to come.”

Matthias Berlit is Managing Director at Inform GmbH.

the Inform Ltd develops software for optimizing business processes using digital decision making. The software works on the basis of artificial intelligence and operations research. It supplements the classic IT systems and increases the profitability and resilience of many companies. While data management software only provides information, Inform’s systems can analyze large amounts of data. In addition, decision variants can be calculated, which then suggest the best possible solution for implementation to the user. (sg)

Also read: Supply chain management: upward trend in digitization