As organisations look to reduce operational costs amid labour challenges, agile automation can boost efficiency and resilience.
Tech experts from leading global technology provider Körber share their predictions for this year.
Last year was one of the most challenging on record for the global supply chain. As the pandemic continued to disrupt operations and supply chains throughout the world, there was no relief or return to normal as predicted.
In many ways, 2021 was more challenging than 2020. We had to learn to live with the virus and try to keep industries and people moving and productive while we faced disruption and turmoil like we’ve never seen before.
The global chip shortage has challenged some of the world’s largest car manufacturers and tech providers – including Tesla, Apple and Toyota – and it continues to wreak havoc in the automotive industry. Research conducted by Alix Partners has revealed the ongoing global shortage in semiconductors is on track cost the world’s automakers US$210bn – and counting.
As consumers, we’ve found ourselves getting used to empty supermarket shelves and delivery delays, and as professionals we’ve had to grapple with ongoing shipping container shortage and labour availability challenges.
As a result, supply chain organisations are turning to technology at rapid pace, and as an organisation 2021 was a record year of investment and development for Körber.
At the end of 2021, the leading tech provider announced a strategic partnership with KKR, a leading global investment firm. The partnership will see the two companies build a global supply chain software champion as KKR acquired a significant stake in Körber’s supply chain software business. As structural trends and market forces have amplified the need for digital solutions to handle increased volume and overcome greater supply chain complexity, this investment will assist Körber in its growth plan to build a global champion in supply chain software.
Development, innovation, and growth are core values for Körber Supply Chain, as Chief Technology Officer Sean Elliot said at Körber’s Elevate APAC Conference last year: “We’re constantly looking at all our products and services and asking ourselves: ‘What are we doing well and how can we help our customers in the future?’”
WHAT WILL 2022 LOOK LIKE?
Leaders from across Körber Supply Chain Software’s team have shared their predictions for what opportunities and challenges supply chain organisations will face this year. MHD summarises the key supply chain trends from Nishan Wijemanne, Managing Director APAC; Sean Elliot, Chief Technology Officer; Tim Harris, Head of Project Management Office; Anthony Beavis, General Manager; Darren O’Connor, Director of Operations; Tarryn Edelstein, Client Manager and Claudia Ford, Client Manager at Körber Supply Chain and learns more about what they think 2022 will look like.
The pandemic has enhanced the squeeze the industry was already feeling around labour availability. As the Omicron variant continues to disrupt the retail and supply chain labour force, consumers are getting used to limited stock availability and delivery delays which are putting increased pressure on supply chains.
All of this is happening alongside what commentators are calling the “great resignation” – where workers are quitting their jobs at historic rates due to a competitive labour market for candidates.
Attracting and retaining great people within retail and supply chain will continue to be a challenge, but having the right team is critical to develop, manage and support these rapidly evolving industries.
Technology can play a huge role in mitigating this challenge. Whether it be to enhance and speed up onboarding processes so the workforce can adapt to address shortages and particular peaks in demand, or to utilise robotic technology to maintain or increase throughputs when labour availability is low.
Having access to a global network of talent is also becoming increasingly important in leadership roles and tech such as cloud infrastructure is playing a significant role in ensuring an organisation has a strong culture regardless of whether it’s a physical or virtual environment.
One of the standout tech developments for 2022 will be Artificial Intelligence (AI). As capabilities continue to develop in this space, having the ability to utilise machine learning to adapt to trends, peaks and challenges will be critical to success.
As the technology has developed, AI can learn and respond to changes in the environment without any intervention at all. At Körber Supply Chain, we have vast amounts of data we can access in our systems and products. We can use this data to find patterns and make predictions on the future so we can be smarter, we can also use AI to facilitate real-time supply chain decision making.
Another key area for AI is in helping Körber customers simulate and plan future operation – by utilising AI to create different scenarios based on the different technology options.
Körber also continues to challenge the status quo with the development of gamification and AI powered support solutions, which are set to benefit user advocacy and also address maintenance and triage requirements on a real-time basis.
Robotics and Android voice
Mobile and agile robotics and Android-based voice technology continues to play a critical role in a successful supply chain operation and the Körber team predicts that this will continue in 2022.
As organisations focus on reducing operational costs and grapple with labour challenges, agile and mobile automation boost efficiency and resilience in an increasingly challenging environment.
Android-based Voice technology continues to develop, and we will see more innovation in this product. More than 10,000 users leverage Körber’s Voice and Android-based voice technology on a daily basis, and it continues to gain popularity. This year will see more users migrate to Android as organisations also recognise they need multimodal devices to support efficient and adaptable workflows.
As labour availability is scarce, Android voice technology can help attract and retain talent by ensuring that warehouse operators have the tools to carry out their roles effectively and productively. Furthermore, training timelines for operations using voice technologies are a fraction of the time compared with traditional operational processes, and when a warehouse operator needs to interact with a robot, they can utilise voice to transition that workflow with little disruption to their day or throughput.
Security and the cloud
As more and more operations leverage cloud technology, Körber is developing its offering in this space – with three principles in mind. Firstly, speed – the team has been developing the solution to ensure that a customer’s time to value is immediate. Secondly, resilience and reliability. And thirdly, security: supply chains are an important but fragile element of overall business security, with particular reference to digital security.
With this in mind, Körber has recently appointed a Chief Information Security Officer to support developments in cyber security and continues to enhance security in its cloud offerings.
Universal Control System for Robotics
Demand from the market for more layers of workflow efficiency enablers in a single deployment has been growing at rapid speed. Based on years of in-house experience of warehouse digitisation, from basic Level 1 to fully automated Level 5 facilities, Körber is currently developing a RaaS (Robot as a Service) as well as a next-generation UCS (Unified Control System) strategy to optimise and manage humans, robots, and traditional automated MHE via a single unified software layer to further support our AMR capabilities globally.
For more information on Körber, click here.
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