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Navigating a course for supply chain and logistics in 2024

Navigating a course for supply chain and logistics in 2024
Navigating a course for supply chain and logistics in 2024

The supply chain is vital to the global economy. It represents the process of activities which enables the production of goods and services, and then the delivery. The ‘chain’ linking everything together. 

There are various technological advancements companies in the supply chain are using to make business more efficient – and stay ahead of competition. Just look at initiatives like robotics. Courier companies are now using this technology to improve throughput. Customer can now receive items faster. 

Companies like Maersk and UPS are moving with the times and using technological advancements for warehouses and operations. 

There are a number of trends that are evident in 2024. These include automation and artificial intelligence. Businesses are using AI to function better, improve accuracy and reduce errors. AI-power data is giving supply chain professionals insight to make informed decisions. 

Drones flying high for supply chain 

The current landscape of the supply chain is changing – for the better. An example of this, is the world’s first cargo drone airline, Dromatics. 

In May 2023, the company completed the first flight of its flagship aircraft, Black Swan. It has a cargo capacity of 350kg with a range of 2,500 kilometers. This is equivalent to New York City to Austin, all of Europe, all of the Caribbean, Hong Kong to Osaka, and Dubai to New Delhi. Black Swan is remotely piloted, suitable for long-range cargo delivery. 

Fast forward to 2024, Dromatics is now working with Qatar Airlines on the world’s first interline agreement

Automation is making a difference in the supply chain space: 

  • Safety and reliability: Robotics can handle heavy packaging with ease. Robotics systems can also handle toxic chemicals which allows humans to avoid toxic fumes and exposure to chemicals. 
  • Inventory management: Automated systems assist companies to prevent backlogs and allows the company to adapt to demand in the market. 
  • Strong customer satisfaction: Companies can keep customers happy by delivering goods faster. 
  • Resilient to changes: Automation allows the supply chain to be more agile. This includes times when demand is suddenly high or improves accuracy for prolonged periods. 

Robotics on your supply chain doorstep 

Locate2u News reported on the future of robotics recently regarding a study titled ‘Robots at Your Doorstep’. The study found that people would only switch technologies if services manage costs and delivery speed. 

Major companies using robotics in their supply chain: 

  • Amazon: Using 75,000 robots to do heavy lifting at its facilities. 
  • Walmart: Using robots to scan items on shelves, and even clean floors. 
  • FedEx: Has robots integrated into its supply chain at sorting and distribution centers. 
  • UPS: Using robotics to unload packages on their trucks. 
  • Toyota: Toyota Material Handling is using robots to lift items onto pallets and for accurate stacking. 

Challenges spilling into 2024 

There have been some challenges in the global supply chain in recent weeks. The Red Sea crisis is one example. In October 2023, Yemen group Houthis started targeting commercial vessels as a result of tension in the Middle-East between Israel and Palestine. 

The supply chain and logistics industry will be watching developments regarding this crisis closely. There are various challenges making waves as such for businesses: 

  • Shipment delays and costs: Ships are rerouting around the southern tip of Africa due to the crisis. This will lead to burning extra fuel which results in additional fuel costs. It’s not just the shipping company who is concerned about delays. But logistics companies, manufacturers, etc. on land will experience shortage of goods/stock. 
  • Supply chain disruptions: Companies relying on the Red Sea route will be watching with bated breath – the entire supply chain is being affected. The shipments at sea will be carrying vital materials for production – these disruptions will affect production time. There will also be a backlog in production/manufacturing due to the Red Sea crisis. 
  • Insurance: The high risk of the conflict could push insurance premiums up, but besides insurance, added security may be needed to protect valuable cargo. 

Technology is shaping the supply chain to become faster with the use of technology. AI is giving companies in this space room to improve, a competitive edge, and allowing them to compete in a fast-paced market. Challenges will surface in 2024, but supply chain specialists will have to use technological advancements to deliver as fast as possible.

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.

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