A Digital Future

It’s no doubt we live in a digital society. However, the supply chain industry has remained behind the times for many years, but end-to-end digitization is accelerating. Recently, CB Insights detailed over 125 startups that are leading the charge in revolutionizing the way supply chains operate. Categories of startups include e-commerce logistics, warehousing, food, fleet management, and more. Collectively, these companies are providing enhanced end-to-end visibility, streamlining operations, digitizing previously analog activities, ensuring food quality & safety, reducing costs and mitigating risk. The rise of born-digital competition has followed a spike in supply chain venture funding and industry incumbents are taking notice. In response, they have significantly increased their investments and acquisitions. What do you see? Will born-digital supply chain startups take over the industry? Finally, will the rise in incumbent digitization efforts prevent a leadership revolution to a digital future?

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Profile: UPS

UPS is launching a predictive analytics tool that analyzes over 1 billion daily data points to augment employee decision making and improve logistics planning. It will be available to employees via an app on their smartphones, desktops and tablets. In order to properly launch the tool, UPS first had to integrate their vast amounts of data from multiple applications into a single platform. The predictive analytics tool is just one part of a larger $20 billion capital spending plan that aims to solve rising ecommerce challenges and keep them ahead of aggressive rivals such as FedEx and Amazon.

Read more here in the original Wall Street Journal article. Also, see our case study on how we helped a leading global cold chain solutions provider launch their innovation program to more effectively harness technologies such as artificial intelligence for predictive analytics.

Apple Pushes Sustainability

The technology juggernaut, Apple, is taking a step towards a cleaner, more energy renewable future. The company stated it would invest $300 million through key suppliers to make their supply chain more efficient and cleaner. Furthermore, the project will bring in over 1 GW of renewable energy. This investment is on top of its 25 renewable energy projects it currently runs. As Apple pushes sustainability, it hopefully will encourage other large retailers to begin investing in efficient supply chains. The sustainability movement is in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, pertaining to affordable and clean energy. Finally, with a target of 1.4 GW of capacity, a project like this among its key suppliers is a step to a better future. Will other companies begin to follow suit? What are ways smaller corporations can invest in sustainability without a budget as large as Apple?

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Cargo Drones


Read more here in the original Wired article. Also, see our case study on ___?

Grocery Ecommerce

FreshDirect has upped the ante in the race to win ecommerce grocery last mile delivery. Their highly-automated, 400,000 square-foot distribution center furthers their aim of providing the freshest food in the shortest amount of time. The facility boasts 15 temperature zones, 9 miles of conveyor belts, software directed order fulfillment, and the ability to receive perishable items such as fish and deliver to customer doors within 24 hours. The total U.S. grocery market is over $700 billion. Ecommerce grocery sales are only a small fraction of that total. However, ecommerce sales of food and alcohol are projected to rise 183% by 2021. FreshDirect is one of many industry leaders investing heavily to capture that growth while cutting order fulfillment times and delivery costs. Amazon, Target, Kroger, Walmart’s Jet.com and others are also expanding and enhancing their ecommerce grocery last mile and warehouse operations.

Read more here in the original Wall Street Journal article. Also, see our case study on how we helped a leading global cold chain solutions provider launch a global innovation program that explored advanced technologies and the warehouse of the future.

NextGen Cup Challange

Companies around the world are rapidly evolving to meet consumer standards regarding environmental sustainability. With surmounting evidence proving the issue of global warming, industries are beginning to look differently at their supply chains. Two competitors in the QSR world, McDonald’s and Starbucks, are actually teaming up to redesign their cups to be more eco-friendly. The leading initiative is called the NextGen Cup Challenge, and is an unprecedented attempt to reduce a company’s ecological footprint and reduce global waste. The two QSR giants are even encouraging other companies to join in on their quest to a better cup. Within three years, the companies are working together to produce a cup that is completely recyclable and compostable. Along with their new and improved cup, the companies are also planning to incorporate a new lid and straw. Ultimately, these will all reduce plastic, be totally recyclable, and still be functional to the consumer. What steps beyond cups will companies make to promote sustainability? Are McDonald’s and Starbucks ushering in a new era of QSR sustainability?

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Robotic Warehouse

“We believe that the industry is ripe for disruption,” says TakeOff Technologies CEO and co-founder Jose Vicente Aguerrevere. That disruption Vicente Aguerrevere speaks of, is the automated grocery distribution market. The Boston area startup is revolutionizing so-called micro-fulfillment centers.  These centers conduct orders and catering by automatically fulfilling requests directly within supermarkets. Developing a “robotic warehouse” within the stores individuals shop can make the food-to-table process faster than ever. The whole process is expected to need approximately only a  half-an-hour lead time. The company announced a $12.5 million Series B rollout plan to launch in an unnamed supermarket in October. The Takeoff Technologies plans to utilize 10,000 square feet in it’s given 50,000-square-foot space. Leading competitors like CommonSense Robotics out of Israel, Instacart, AmazonFesh, Walmart, and Kroger also are aiming for highly efficient micro-fulfillment centers to roll out in the near future.

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Changing Air Freight

Dronamics, a Bulgarian company specializing in drone specialization, is developing a revolutionary pilotless air-freight system. While many industry leaders race to address the last-mile delivery problem, Dronamics is focused on long-haul freight. The company created a drone that will be able to carry up to 800 pounds over approximately 1,500 miles. The approach has the potential to radically transform the air freight industry. Currently, shipping by air is incredibly quick and convenient, but only takes up approximately 1% of global shipping by volume due to expense. Dronamics wants to carry small packages in large quantities cross-country. While doing so, they project their drone shipping costs to be 50 percent lower than a traditional cargo plane with a human pilot. To add to that, each drone is also expected to cost less than $100,000 dollars to produce, far less than the traditional cargo plane at $500,000, providing a long-term payoff. Is drone piloted air-freight the future of shipping? How will this affect the ground shipment industry? 

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The 2018 Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 is an amazing summary and recognition of industry leading supply chains. Most noteworthy, Unilever repeated as the number one supply chain for the third year in a row. Another big development is McDonald’s joining Apple, P&G and Amazon as the top supply chains in the “masters” category. The “masters” category is a nod to companies that have continually ranked as top supply chains over the past decade. Gartner also notes three key trends across the top supply chains; an increased focus on customer experience, the acceleration of supply chain digitization initiatives, and improved sustainability practices.

Read more here in Gartner’s press release. Also, see our case studies on how we helped a “masters” category supply chain solutions provider create their global transformation strategy and launch a global innovation program.

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