What could the next year bring for supply chains?
The last several years have brought multiple disruptions to supply chains across the globe, and market conditions continue to change. With discussions shifting this year from high transportation costs and shortages to inventory reductions caused by slowing consumer demand, many are left wondering what the coming year might look like for their supply chains.
We sat down with Dennis Anderson, Chief Customer Officer at ArcBest, to discuss what trends supply chain directors and other business leaders could see in 2023 and what they can do to stay ahead.
Trend #1: Continued workforce challenges
The terms “the great resignation” and “quiet quitting” have been used throughout 2022, and many employers are still figuring out the best ways to keep jobs filled amidst these workforce trends.
As Anderson said, “This really comes down to two questions: ‘what’s the employee experience?’ and ‘what’s the future of work?’ Staying ahead of employees’ needs and making it possible for new groups to find work in different industries will be essential to keeping businesses running smoothly in 2023.”
But what options do supply chain leaders have?
Offering development opportunities, clear career paths and flexible schedules are all ways companies are working to attract and retain talent. There’s also opportunity to adopt automation technologies that enable remote work and open up the ability to keep warehouses and docks operating around the clock.
Businesses also have options for outsourcing supply chain roles by leveraging managed solutions from capable logistics service providers. This enables you to have efficient logistics operations without the need for hiring and training in those positions.
Trend #2: Increased focus on sustainability
Due to government regulations and high expectations from consumers and investors, many companies have already set goals to significantly reduce their environmental impact. But as companies work towards meeting their emissions targets, they also must keep other business goals in mind.
“There’s a bit of a tug-a-war between running a sustainable supply chain and running a supply chain that keeps your products in stock and meets your consumers where they want to be met,” Anderson said. “That creates tension for any supply chain manager, and everyone is looking at different ways to tackle it. The good news is that sustainability and cost efficiency often go hand-in-hand.”
While companies can find ways to improve sustainability across their supply chains, one of the biggest areas of focus next year will likely be reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation. Tactics ranging from using more sustainable fuels and combustion systems to using the most efficient transport modes and routes can make a large impact in this area.
Suggested article: Sustainable Logistics: Good for the Environment and Your Business
ArcBest is committed to doing our part to limit the impact of transportation on the environment by making changes in our own operations and helping businesses find efficiencies that help them meet their goals. Learn more about our commitment to environmental sustainability.
Trend #3: More strategic decisions around supply chain digitization
Technology and data analytics have been big topics for several years, but the conversation is shifting from “what data do we need to be capturing?” to “what are we doing with that information?”
“The supply chain will continue to be made up of many different constituents, and it’s critical that all of those parties have a good exchange of information between them,” Anderson said. “But data by itself won’t really do anything for your business. The difference happens when all that data flow can be used to make decisions and sometimes even trigger automated processes.”
The more connected you are to your providers, the more decisions you’re able to make based on better and more complete business data. But it’s essential to make sure that any data captured and shared between your business and your providers is smartly considered for specific use. For example, if you’re looking to reduce your transportation costs, you’ll need to make sure the right information is being shared and analyzed so the best solution can be implemented. Having unnecessary or missing data could lead to poor decisions.
Working with a trusted logistics provider can help you identify what data needs to be analyzed for each goal and what integrations are needed to help exchange information.
Trend #4: Better alignment of warehouse processes and transport capacity options
Everything that happens inside a warehouse or distribution facility, from the equipment used to how freight is staged, impacts how shipments are moved. That’s why it’s important to think through how your facilities are set up and communicate critical details with your logistics provider so they can recommend the right solutions and operating procedures.
“Coordinating with your logistics provider will enable decisions around what modes are used and how freight is loaded into the equipment,” Anderson said. “For example, if people inside the facility have great processes and good visibility where everything is going, they can load the trailer sequentially to optimize the unloading process.”
Maximizing the role your warehousing and distribution facilities play in your operations can enable cost savings and other efficiencies.
Preparing for 2023 and beyond
The transportation industry is consistently changing, but you can plan for the effects of those changes by understanding emerging trends and how they may impact your business. Set yourself up for success with a strategic partnership with a provider like ArcBest. Explore our integrated logistics offerings to see how we can help you build a supply chain that gets you ready for anything the future brings.