What Is The Time To Come Of Supply Chain Management?
In recent years, the growth of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and increased automation have called into question what the future of job will look like, especially when it comes to supply chain management. A big issue being asked right now is if supply chain direction is perishing. However, I feel the question people actually need an answer to is, “Will I be substituted by machines?”
The solution is more complicated than a simple yes or no, but the response is positive. However, before I address the two questions above, let us dig a little deeper to know all the parts at play.
What’s supply chain management?
The supply chain as we know it today is a convergence of different processes that must come together to complete a task. Supply chain management varies from complexity and diversity from company to company. By way of instance, there are little companies that must move goods from one warehouse into a distribution center to a customer.
Why do people say supply chain management is dead?
The fact of the matter is that technology is disrupting the supply chain and disintermediating it, as it has disintermediated other industries. Essentially, mundane, repetitive tasks are currently being automated.
For example, say you operate a warehouse that stores a thousand steel beams. Traditionally, you may task a worker to go out and always conduct a physical inventory of your inventory. This task could be time-consuming, possibly dangerous and difficult to ensure 100% accuracy. However, with AI and large data, tasks like this are being automated by robots, remote processes and other procedures. AI is also disrupting the supply chain with better predictive analysis, which is beneficial when it comes to tracking and ordering inventory (e.g., how many metal beams will be necessary for the coming months, when and where).
Another illustration of automation interrupting the distribution chain is its utilization to predict the wear and tear of machinery so that components can be replaced before machinery shuts down. Sensors can report efficiency and performance data to produce supply chain management more efficient and predictable.
The distribution chain is still evolving.
While there’s no doubt that the current supply chain has been disrupted, it’s apparent supply chain management isn’t dead or dying. But the fact that we are in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution means we’re experiencing this disruption on a bigger scale and at a quicker speed. As a result, you will find natural fears that coincide with this disruption. Significantly, people are worried they will be displaced and out of work due to those changes.
To calm this anxiety, I invite people to think back to when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. Individuals who built these cars were jeopardized by the thought of being substituted by big assembly lines. However, what happened was the people could perform functions on the assembly line that previously were not being done. Employees were able to perform a greater level of quality testing because the automation moved parts at a faster speed. Workers were given the chance to develop new skills.
Similarly, as the Industrial Revolution automates mundane, repetitive, or dangerous jobs, there is excellent news for both company and employee. From a company standpoint, automation will imply tighter delivery schedule obligations, quicker fulfillment, better efficiency and greater profits. From an employee perspective, it will mean the chance to learn and create new, crucial abilities.
What does this mean for individuals?
At the beginning of this article, the bigger question posed was, “Can I be replaced by machines?” I feel the answer is this: While some tasks will be replaced, folks will not.
Let us revisit the earlier example of an employee taking an inventory at a steel beam mill. In a fully automated warehouse, whether they may no longer be taking inventory, they might still perform vital tasks in handling and interpreting the data that is accumulated (e.g., valuation, condition, etc.).
Even though there is a great deal of concern around the lack of tasks due to technology, it’s important to not forget that the No. 1 problem many employers face is lack of talent. If companies are struggling to find workers, automation could be a boon. Bright companies will look to reskill their employees that are already knowledgeable about the business, and workers will be given the chance to learn and develop new skills. People that are seeking higher-wage work can make the most of automation to open new doors of employment.
At the end of the afternoon, innovation has ever created new markets and new opportunities, and it has enabled companies to develop. The people who most benefit from the growth of supply chain management will be people who adopt this change and use it to their benefit. But people aren’t going anywhere.