Rapid technological changes are forcing logistics professionals to adapt and make changes across the entirety of the supply chain. Among the new advances, collectively referred to as “Industry 4.0”, that are having the biggest impact on modern logistics are robotics, 3D Printing and the internet of things (IoT).
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution and the advent of the long distance supply chain, materials took more or less a linear path to be assembled and reach the customer. With new technological advances, this path has become a a 3-dimensional chess board, with opportunities and pitfalls for companies at every turn.
According to some industry experts, the supply chain has changed dramatically because it has become more of a dynamic network, where manufacturers are assessing and reassessing their partners based on performance and strategic competitive advantage
Technology is viewed as a key piece of this relationship, offering an opportunity to resolve performance issues and increase customer satisfaction and speed to market.
Companies must provide more flexibility and greater options for customized functionality for customers or risk being left behind by savvy competitors like e-commerce behemoth Amazon.
Other companies have used the increased affordability of technology like 3D printers to bring some manufacturing in house. Industry leaders HP and Boeing have both used 3D printers to eliminate their supply chains entirely for certain items and begin producing them in-house.
Where some companies see a challenge, others will find an opportunity. While there was a high barrier to entry for these technologies only a few years ago, now costs are lower and shrewd logistics teams can reap the benefits. Many companies in the auto industry have resorted to digitization to keep apace of competitors and meet the demands of vehicle manufacturers. This trend will undoubtedly continue in the years to come as the means of production become easier to afford.