The NextGen Supply Chain Conference puts a bright spotlight on how technology is raising the bar for today’s supply chain, logistics and transportation managers.
Supply Chain Management Level-Day 2 of the NextGen Supply Chain Conference in Chicago brought together a stable of industry experts, technology vendors and academics to discuss some of the most important current and future technology trends in supply chain. From overall supply chain digitization to blockchainto machine learning (ML), the topics covered were interesting, varied and engaging for conference attendees.
To start the day, Cisco’s Jack Allen brought the audience up to speed on the digitization of the supply chain and discussed some of his company’s current projects. He emphasized the growing need for cyber security in today’s digitized world and openly admitted that it “feels like I’m living in a science fiction novel all of the time” (referring to the fast and often unpredictable pace of change in supply chain right now).
Allen cautioned attendees not to invest in “technology for technology’s sake,” and to pay particular attention to key disruptors within their respective industries. He pointed to the recent cyber attack on Maersk as proof of how security issues can bring an entire supply chain to its knees; walked the audience through numerous other advanced technologies; and reinforced the value of the circular economy (i.e., an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and maximizing resources).
Next, Vineet Sinha of Johnson Controls described the complex ecosystems needed to keep buildings up and running, and showed how this “massive task of coordination” was being handled by technology, artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
He showed how these systems can help companies solve service problems in just 2-1/2 days (versus 2-1/2 weeks with traditional/manual systems), and urged conference attendees to “put themselves in their customers’ shoes” when developing and running facilities.
In a trio of 30-minute business-to-business presentations, Procurant’s Eric Peters gave the audience a primer on the use of blockchain in supply chain; Ali Kamil of Wise Systems talked about using ML and autonomous logistics to replace age-old routing and scheduling systems; and Jim Chamberlain of DSC showed how the third-party logistics (3PL) provider is tackling the issue of labor productivity using a labor management system (LMS).