The past 12+ months has seen supply chains face considerable disruption – disruption that has altered perspectives and priorities. While Covid-19 is not the only reason for these disruptions, it is a significant factor. The pandemic isn’t over yet, either, bringing further uncertainty.
While there are uncertainties, there are also opportunities in warehouse and supply chain management as we look to 2022 and beyond. Those opportunities are driven by technologies, as well as by changes in consumer behaviour.
Bringing that all together, we’ve put together a list of the top seven warehouse management and supply chain trends for 2022.
1. Supply Chain Resilience
As mentioned in the opening sentence, it has been a tough period for supply chain management. The reasons are varied and include material and labour shortages, increased costs, and shipping challenges. Those things individually probably won’t last forever, but the more general experience of disruption has shone a spotlight on the issue of supply chain resilience.
Establishing supply chain resilience requires a broad strategy, with agility being an essential component. With agility built into your supply chain, you can pivot when disruption occurs. You may even be able to pivot before the disruption has an impact.
However, for your supply chain to become more agile, you need data. Data increases visibility and helps with decision-making, both of which are required for an agile approach. Therefore, we can expect more companies to develop supply chain resilience throughout 2022 and beyond by creating digital supply chains that maximise integration at all points.
2. Artificial Intelligence
AI would make the list of top trends for 2022 in most industries and sectors, and it is going to be important in warehouse and supply chain management too. It is a technology that is becoming more advanced, and with that improvement comes greater impact and familiarity.
In warehouse and supply chain management, AI and machine learning can help with data analysis and decision-making, while also optimising processes and operational efficiency.
3. Robotic Automation
Robotic automation has been a growing trend over recent years, and this growth is set to continue through 2022 as companies seek to improve productivity and deal with warehousing and supply chain challenges.
In particular, we will see a movement away from fixed automation systems to smaller mobile robots. 5G connectivity and machine vision systems will also play increasingly important roles, and cobots will become more common in warehousing and distribution operations.
4. Cloud Technologies
The rate of adoption of cloud technologies is increasing as companies make progress on their digital transformation strategies. Advances in hybrid cloud solutions is one of the reasons for this, where cloud architectures now include cloud, multi-cloud, on-prem, and edge elements.
Improving the performance of IT and operational technologies is an important motivating factor for migrating to the cloud, as is reducing IT infrastructure and maintenance costs. A move to cloud technologies also helps to eliminate the data silos that still exist in many warehousing and supply chain operations.
5. Big Data
Data is another point on this list that is not exclusive to warehousing or supply chain management, but its importance cannot be understated. There is an increasing reliance on data as companies improve collection, storage, and processing. This leads to the production of useful data that can be quickly digested in attractive data visualisations.
Good access to data also makes it possible for warehousing and supply chain operations to start using predictive analytics.
6. The Introduction of the Blockchain
Blockchain technologies in warehousing and supply chain management are in their infancy, but they have the potential to be a substantial growth area. Blockchain technologies can also increase transparency in warehousing and supply chain operations, while also reducing risks and streamlining processes. We are still at the start of this journey, but it is a trend to look out for.
7. Creating Sustainable Operations
Warehousing and supply chain operations are increasingly adopting technologies and strategies to make their operations more sustainable. From introducing electric vehicles in warehouses to minimising the environmental footprint of supply chains, sustainability will be a hot topic for some time to come.
Advancing the Sector
All the trends on this list will help warehousing and supply chain operations improve throughout 2022, becoming more competitive, productive, and efficient, while also increasing profitability. It is a period of transformation, and that brings challenges, but there are exciting opportunities too.