Supply chain, logistics, procurement & tech 2024 predictions

Supply chain, logistics, procurement and technology predictions for 2024 from Anders Beck at Universal Robots and Efficio's Louis Carval

AI 'will speed pace of robotics and automation'

Anders Beck is VP Strategy & Innovation at Universal Robots, the company whose mission is to “create a world where people work with robots, not like robots”. Here, he discusses how AI is likely to impact the world of robotics in the year ahead.  

"This past year has been an exciting one for innovation, with the emergence of AI technologies capturing global attention. However, the adoption of AI for businesses is still in its early stages and questions around how best to harness this technology remain at the forefront of many minds.

AI will set a new pace of development in robotics and automation. If software development has sometimes felt like digging with a shovel, the introduction of AI is like bringing two horses and a plough to the process. However, automation expertise will remain a scarce and valuable resource in the process of AI revolutionising manufacturing.

Developments in robotics software will enable more sharing and reuse: 2024 will see software developments leading to new levels of sharing and reusability. Imagine a world where, instead of reinventing the wheel, we leverage existing software assets – components, interfaces, algorithms – across multiple applications.

Companies will fuse IT and operational technology (OT) using data to improve operations. The future of manufacturing is intricately linked to IT/OT integration as data will underpin innovation and efficiency. The transformative leap will come when cloud-based software services connect humans and machines and help manufacturers simplify complex processes and make smarter decisions.

Logistics will be a focus area for robotics: Like manufacturing, many logistics companies face serious labour shortages while pressure is increasing because of globalisation, e-commerce and complex multi-channel supply chains. Robots– and the smart use of data – are poised to revolutionise logistics businesses across the whole value chain from incoming packages to outbound logistics."

Supply chain visibility tech 'will continue apace'

Louis Carval is Principal at Efficio, the procurement and supply chain management specialist. Here, he look ahead to what might be in store across logistics, technology and possible disruptions to supply chain.

"The transport and logistics sector is anticipating growth of 4% in 2023 and a further 3% in 2024, but is still affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine and a slower-than-expected recovery of global demand, particularly from China. 

Supply chain resilience remains a top priority for shippers. They are maintaining high buffer stocks to help mitigate supply chain disruption, something contract logistics can take advantage of. We are also seeing a trend in shippers moving towards providing more end-to-end supply chain services rather than just transportation.

We expect to see continued investments in technology to help firms with supply chain visibility; for example, focus on track-and-trace systems to improve agile decision-making when challenges arise. With the boom in e-commerce, innovative solutions will be explored to meet consumer delivery demands. We expect to see more popularity in the usage of drones and e-vehicles to manage final-mile deliveries.

In order to remain agile against further disruption and change, procurement leaders should create strategic relationships and join an alliance to secure capacities. Diversifying suppliers in this area is key to remaining flexible and navigating risk.

  • For further insight check out other issues of Supply Chain Magazine, as well as Procurement Magazine & Sustainability Magazine
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