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Pandemic, tech and environment dominating global supply chain thinking

NTT Data’s Third-Party Logistics Study  has highlighted intense pressures and new demands on the supply chain.

The study, carried out in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. C. John Langley, clinical professor, supply chain information systems and director of development, Center for Supply Chain Research at Smeal College of Business focuses on several areas: the current state of the Third Party Logistics (3PL) market; Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG); the intelligent supply chain; the cold chain; and revisiting effects of COVID-19.

The 2022 3PL Study findings include:

  • Pandemic puts supply chain center stage. The pandemic placed a spotlight on supply chains in a manner never seen before, as the downsides of just-in-time inventory, and the frustrations felt when raw materials and finished goods failed to arrive on time (or not even made available for purchase), were very much noticed by the consumer. The worsening effects of the truck driver shortage played a role as well. Recent supply chain challenges have accelerated the adoption of technology and further demonstrated the need for visibility. 3PL providers were able to pivot resources to those industries that surged, to offset manufacturing shutdowns. Contingency planning also received more attention.
  • Supply chains face intense pressure, planning needs, and ongoing labor challenges. The pandemic either exposed or strengthened contingency planning and risk mitigation strategies across the world, as consumers needed vital supplies and foods delivered to brick-and-mortar locations or to their homes. The areas companies (shippers) stated were most impacted by the pandemic included: International transportation and logistics (43%); sourcing and procurement (30%) and manufacturing (24%). The 3PLs listed their top areas: Labor and workforce management (33%); manufacturing (24%); and international transportation and logistics (23%). Interestingly, 68% of shippers believe that their supply chains have become too global and must be rebalanced towards more regional and local ecosystems within larger global enterprises. About 83% of these market-leading companies stated they plan to adjust sources of supply as a direct result.
  • ESG is a growing priority for supply chain leaders. The study indicated that among corporations 59% had a formal environmental, social and governance (ESG) program; of those, 51% of their supply chains utilized an ESG program. Among 3PLs, only 45% noted that their organizations featured an established ESG offering. Both shippers and 3PLs indicated that cost was a factor in establishing a program. Key reasons for creating or enhancing an ESG program included: Consumer trends and preferences; environment and climate impacts; diversity, equity and inclusion; social contribution and responsibility; and laws, policies and regulations.
  • Tech and robotics driving smarter, more agile supply chains. At the forefront is 5G, real-time data transmission, Internet of Things, and data analytics. More than half of shippers (52%) and 3PLs (63%) stated that 5G technology is either moderately or critically important. The majority of 3PLs (53%) reported that they can provide real-time data to clients in 50% or more of their supply chain services. About 63% of 3PLs stated they are investing in Internet of Things technology to improve workforce productivity; real-time decision making and create a competitive differentiator. Cloud technology gets most used in transportation management systems followed by warehouse management systems. The top technologies that 3PLs are investing in are in robotics: High-dense storage pickers and palletizers (38%), autonomous forklifts (35%) and wearables (35%). Shippers are centering efforts on intelligent data analytics (26%), robotics (20%) and autonomous forklifts (20%).
  • Need for cold chain strategies and support heat up. Companies are using a mix of in-house and outsourced programs within their cold chains. A comprehensive cold chain strategy is a contributor to the success of medicines and foods transportation, with 89% of shippers reporting they have a strong program. For 3PLs, the most important cold chain services are a range of temperatures (refrigeration to deep freeze), active temperature monitoring and product traceability. Shippers (62%) ranked proper handling as the greatest challenge to operating a cold chain, as compared to only 25% of 3PLs. Top cold chain challenges for shippers are: Proper handling; regulatory compliance; recruiting skilled labor; proper last-mile handling; and product packaging. For 3PLs this list is: Infrastructure investments; temperature monitoring; tech investment and maintenance; recruiting skilled labor; and proper truck transportation.

The full 2022 edition is accessible at www.3PLStudy.com and is part of an in-person session at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) EDGE conference in Atlanta.

“We are delighted to be part of this long-running and significant study to provide a view of what is happening in today’s global marketplace,” said Sylvie Thompson, vice president, consulting and supply chain practice, NTT DATA Services. “As the world has rapidly shifted, investments in technology, infrastructure, transportation and recruiting are all key to the success of improving the supply chain of the future.”

CEOs upbeat but agree supply chain issues major threat to recovery

CEOs of the world’s largest businesses are increasingly optimistic about the outlook for their own business and despite the Delta variant slowing down the ‘return to normal’ – but remain concerned over problem with supply chains slowing recovery.

The KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook, which asked more than 1,300 global CEOs about their strategies and outlook over a 3-year horizon, finds that 60 percent of leaders are confident about the global economy’s growth prospects over the next 3 years (up from 42 percent in the January/February’s pulse survey).

The prospect of a stronger global economy is leading CEOs to invest in expansion and business transformation, with 69 percent of senior executives identifying inorganic methods (e.g. joint ventures, M&A and strategic alliances) as their organization’s main strategy for growth.

A majority (87 percent) of global leaders stated that they are looking to make acquisitions in the next 3 years to help grow and transform their businesses.

The survey found that 30 percent of CEOs plan to invest more than 10 percent of their revenues toward sustainability measures and programs over the next 3 years.

However, when looking at risks for growth over 3 years, senior executives identified three areas they see as top risks: supply chain, cyber security and climate change. Fifty-six percent of global CEOs say that their business’ supply chain has been under increased stress during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, just 21 percent of CEOs now say they are planning to downsize, or have already downsized, their organization’s physical footprint, a dramatic shift from August 2020, with the first wave of the pandemic at its peak, when 69 percent of global leaders said that they planned to downsize their space.

CEOs are focused instead on providing increased flexibility for their workforce with 51 percent (up from 14 percent in the January/February’s pulse survey) looking to invest in shared office spaces. Furthermore, 37 percent of global executives have implemented a hybrid model of working for their staff, where most employees work remotely 2–3 days a week.

How can the Defense Industrial Base better protect against cybersecurity weaknesses in the supply chain?

By Thomas Lind, Co-Head of Strategic Intelligence, BlueVoyant

Securing the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) is a key national security objective of the United States. The task is challenging: it means securing a multi-tiered, interlinking supply chain hundreds of thousands of companies long, ranging from machine shops of a few dozen employees to billion-dollar prime contractors.

In an attempt to assess and support the cybersecurity posture of the defense sector, BlueVoyant recently undertook an analysis of companies in the defense industrial base. Building on research carried out by researchers at Michigan State University and our own insights gleaned from CMMC consulting, we focused on small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) as a critical and overlooked component of supply chain resilience. Looking at cybersecurity posture, threats, and compromise, our analysis found evidence of vulnerabilities across our sample set.

However, BlueVoyant research also shows that securing the DIB is a tractable problem. With the right combination of CMMC regulations, cybersecurity monitoring, and support from government, the DIB can be made much stronger and resilient than it is now.

This issue is critical. Businesses in the DIB are high-value targets for nation-state adversaries and other cybercriminals. Today, the news is awash with examples of how these third-party attack strategies have been successful: in the last year alone, cyber attacks exploiting Microsoft Exchange, F5, Pulse Secure, and, of course, SolarWinds have all impacted U.S. defense networks. At the same time, opportunistic ransomware attacks have also risen in frequency and impact, and just last year we reported attacks on US contractors who had been hit by the Babuk, Ryuk, maze and DoppelPaymer ransomware groups.

Securing the DIB is not only a pressing issue for greater national security: it is also eminently possible. BlueVoyant’s recent report, Defense Industry Supply Chain and Security, seeks to support policymakers and defense contractors in shaping a stronger and more resilient cybersecurity posture.

Adversaries pivot to target SMBs

Arguably, defense contractors face the same opportunistic threats as any business, however, the DIB’s biggest problem is the complexity of securing such an enormous ecosystem. Since the first cyber intrusions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prime contractors and other large companies have developed more robust security defenses against cyberattacks. As a result, adversaries have pivoted towards targeting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are subcontractors within the same supply chain. This attack strategy is based on the expectation that SMEs will have fewer and less sophisticated defenses and will thus provide an easier entry point to all entities within the entire supply chain.

Knowing this, BlueVoyant undertook a review of the cybersecurity risk posture within the DIB. To do so, we chose a sample set of 300 companies, avoiding primes and other giant defense contractors and instead limiting the pool entirely to SMEs. In a total industrial base of some 100,000 companies (or more, according to some estimates), three hundred companies is not large enough to identify reliable patterns but large enough to observe statistically significant insights into overall supply chain security. We examined the companies for vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity posture; for evidence of targeted threat activity; and for evidence of compromise. The analysis also sought to identify patterns or trends in risk, in hopes to illuminate how risk is concentrated (or not) within a supply chain – and thus help primes and the DoD to direct their resources and attention in future.

We arrived at two key insights. One, our findings indicate that significant issues exist within our sample set, suggesting wider issues across SMEs in the DIB: just under half (48%) of all companies analyzed had critical cybersecurity vulnerabilities, 20% (one-fifth) had critical vulnerabilities and evidence of significant, intentional threat targeting, and 7% showed critical vulnerabilities, evidence of significant, intentional threat targeting, and also had evidence of potential compromise. Overall, vulnerabilities to ransomware were widely observed throughout the group, especially unsecured remote ports known to be the major route of access for ransomware gangs.

Two, we found that industry type was a stronger predictor of risk than company size alone: manufacturing and R&D companies had the highest risk profiles when assessing email security, IT hygiene, malicious activity and vulnerabilities. 100% of the large R&D companies assessed displayed network vulnerabilities, with 66% of these companies also showing evidence of targeting.

Espionage and intellectual property threats are also increasing

This comes at a time of significant pressure on defense companies. Advanced persistent foreign actors have targeted the DIB for years for the purposes of espionage and intellectual property threats; in the last year, they have achieved significant success, and that in the public eye. In October 2020, the NSA issued an advisory noting that Chinese APT groups were exploiting vulnerabilities in Pulse Secure VP and F5 Networks’ cybersecurity software to target defense contractors, and in April this year these groups were reportedly exploiting another software vulnerability to attack defense contractors with vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange services.

To this point, just under half of the companies that we examined had ports vulnerable to ransomware, as well as other severe vulnerabilities. This included unsecured data storage ports, out-of-date software and OS, and other vulnerabilities rated severe to NIST frameworks.

Furthermore, 7% of the companies analyzed showed critical vulnerabilities and evidence of targeted threat activity, and evidence of compromise. Additionally, more than six months after the F5 and Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities were announced, several companies were still observed with these vulnerabilities on their networks.

CMMC and other regulations are being implemented

In order to address these issues, a series of government regulations have set standards designed to raise the baseline of cybersecurity requirements. Most recently, in 2019 the DoD announced that they were launching the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) as an expansion of, and improvement upon, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). CMMC is designed to help apportion compliance and responsibility in appropriate measures throughout a complex ecosystem and to also ensure third party verification and controls are in place. However, our research found that more than a quarter (28%) of companies analyzed showed evidence indicating they would fail to meet the most basic, tier-1 CMMC requirement.

Perpetual monitoring and management is required

Regulations will certainly help to reduce the attack surface, but compliance is not security. Regulations are typically measured at points in time and are therefore not necessarily synonymous with ongoing effective cybersecurity. Without a doubt, compliance is a key first step towards baseline security – but more is needed. How can organizations create a secure environment for defense companies while also supporting the development of a large and diverse ecosystem? How can they close the gap that exists with these periodic point-in-time assessments and deliver more ongoing monitoring and management of the systems security throughout an entire supply chain? Often smaller firms do not have the resources and budgets to deal with increasing, targeted cyberattacks.

Going forward, continuous cybersecurity monitoring should be a key component for defense companies to secure their supply chain. Here prime contractors can reduce their risk exposure by focusing on the most high-risk segments of their supply chain. Our research highlighted that R&D companies are particularly vulnerable targets for malicious insertion in the supply chain and focusing on them can reduce risk to all segments. Additionally, predictive analysis is possible based on quantitative measures, and can provide the DoD and prime contractors with findings to help them identify and more effectively manage risk. BlueVoyant is undertaking more advanced research, in cooperation with Michigan State University’s top-rated supply chain management program, to see if more reliable predictive measures are possible. 

Focusing on supply chain health

For an industry with such an expansive, interconnected digital ecosystem, supply chain security should be a fundamental consideration. Prime contractors are under enormous pressure to reduce the attack surface of the entire supply chain, but are partly blind to the vulnerabilities that exist. Smaller companies need to put more attention and resources into identifying ongoing risks and understanding overall supply chain health in order to combat the growing threat landscape.

The good news is that the two recent Executive Orders – one on American Supply Chains, and the other on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity – direct much-needed attention and funding to cybersecurity in the defense supply chain, but they are only the start. Closer co-operation between the DoD and the private sector is required to support a more vibrant, diverse, and secure defense sector.

Just as threats are evolving, so too are the conditions that shape the US defense industry, and the sector is increasingly introducing commercial technologies and acquisition practices that have the potential to disrupt and change the traditional defense contractor business model for the better. Organizations need to put in place accessible compliance frameworks, robust and proactive risk tracking, continuous external monitoring – all of these steps will support a more secure defense sector and are absolutely achievable with closer co-operation between the DoD and the public sector.

Top supply chain priorities in light of climate crisis and COVID

Research from Reuters Events Supply Chain in partnership with Blue Yonder has revealed the priority strategies and investments for supply chain execution and risk management within transportation and warehousing.

Following a year of intense changes in the logistics industry, The State of Supply Chain Execution Report 2021 analysed the anonymous responses of supply chain professionals and found that the COVID-19 pandemic, customer centricity, rising e-commerce complexity and costs, need for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C), and the risk of financial peril are propelling retailers, manufacturers and logistics service providers (LSPs) to digitally transform.  

E-commerce and D2C Volumes Skyrocket  

E-commerce shows no signs of slowing down. Companies looking to capitalize on the omni-channel opportunities created by increased online-order volume over the last 18 months are prioritizing more agile delivery and fulfillment models, like D2C: 

·         Retailers’/manufacturers’ online sales increased more than 120% over the past year. LSPs have seen e-commerce volumes explode, reporting a 200% increase compared to 2019-2020.   

“As the economy transitions to a post-pandemic environment, retailers, manufacturers and LSPs are transforming their transportation and broader supply chain operations to address their most pressing supply chain challenges,” said Raj Patel, senior director, 3PL Industry Strategy, Blue Yonder. “In the long term, investment in execution systems like Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), as well as end-to-end visibility, automation, and cloud strategies will help them – and their customers – build more sustainable, resilient and agile organizations for the future.” 

Pandemic Prompts Re-evaluation of Supply Chain Risk Management 

From constraints on raw materials, to labor shortages, to growing cybersecurity threats on distributed networks, pandemic-related challenges have shifted supply chain risk management priorities: 

·         Respondents are hesitant to pursue near/onshoring plans, with only 29% of retailers/manufacturers making an investment. 

·         63% of retailers/manufacturers stated that dual-sourcing was a favored strategy for risk management moving forward. Constraints on the availability of raw materials caused supply side disruptions, even for those with distributed manufacturing facilities. 

·         Environmental concerns are also being considered when planning for supply chain risks. Over half (53%) of retailers/manufacturers and half (50%) of LSPs plan to invest in sustainability as a strategy for risk management. 

Companies Prioritise Digital-First Practices and Technology Investments  

With the growth of e-commerce, investment in modern supply chain technologies and new approaches have become essential for businesses to keep pace with shifting trends and customer expectations. The report found that there are various factors driving investment in supply chain technologies and digital-first practices: 

·         LSPs cited the pressure to reduce supply chain costs (58%) while also improving service levels for their retailer customers (48%) and dealing with labor shortages (30%). 

In the current supply chain environment, companies are moving away from legacy systems and prioritizing technologies that enable visibility for customers and their operations, automate processes and support enterprise agility.   

·         63% of retailers/manufacturers and 60% of LSPs agreed that end-to-end visibility is currently yielding the highest ROI in their supply chain execution process. 

·         Roughly half (48%) of retailers/manufacturers and more than half (57%) of LSPs have a robust cloud strategy in place, helping to create high levels of infrastructure agility that on-premise, legacy technology systems can’t achieve. 

Richard Ebach, CIO Americas, DB Schenker, said: “In the current supply chain environment, companies need good visibility into their transportation/ freight and partners that help them operate in a very agile, resilient manner. Knowing this, we’ve been investing in technology that provides good visibility for customers and their operations; tools that support enterprise agility; supply chain automation solutions; and zero-trust IT security tools. Combined, these technology solutions help our customers address their most pressing supply chain challenges while also helping them build stronger, more resilient organisations for the future.”

SLG Brands: Enabling better supply chain visibility

By Zencargo

SLG Brands is a design-driven beauty company, whose products are found in the UK’s biggest high street retailers. Key to their brand is ensuring availability for in-demand items. Working with Zencargo, SLG were able to take control of origin operations to manage costs and drive revenue.

Challenge

Working with disconnected systems, SLG were unable to get the visibility they needed on inbound SKUs. This left their supply chain team rushing reactively to organise shipments as they became ready, resulting in inefficient container fill and high workloads.

Solution

SLG moved all their purchase orders and suppliers onto Zencargo’s cloud-based platform, creating transparency and accountability across the supply chain. Zencargo’s operations team also worked with SLG to manage purchase orders from placing them with manufacturers all the way to arrival at their customers’ DCs.

Results

With advanced visibility, SLG were able to plan orders and loads strategically, improving container fill percentages and enabling them to secure capacity in advance. They were also able to provide their retailer customers with more reliable delivery schedules and communicate any changes long in advance.

Learn how our advanced supply chain platform can help you drive more value for your business.

WEBINAR: Retail profitability the focus of new event collaboration between Zencargo and Bis Henderson

Retail margins are under increasing threat from soaring freight rates, poor carrier reliability and fluctuating demand. In response, Zencargo, the digital freight forwarder has announced a new online forum to analyse end-to-end retail profitability.

Scheduled for 14:00 on the 12th August, Guarding profitability through disruption: the retailers guide is being delivered in collaboration with Louisa Hosegood, of global supply chain consultancy Bis Henderson, who formerly held senior logistic roles within Marks and Spencer and John Lewis.

The online event comes in response to the unprecedented disruption in ocean and air freight that threatens the profitability, and even the survival, of many businesses. The event’s moderator, and Zencargo co-founder and CCO, Richard Fattal explains:

“The rules have completely changed, and every business needs to be keeping an eye on their bottom line profitability. It’s not just about logistics teams any more – finance, sales and data teams need to be working together to create joined up decision making that works for the whole business.”

“The changes in logistics, commercial environment and social habits formed in the last 18 months will have long-lasting consequences. Consumers will be voting with their wallets based on new values, higher expectations and evolving ways of living and working. The businesses that can adapt to these changes are the ones that will be able to maintain and grow profits.”

The topics under discussion include:

  • Analysing and comparing the commercial environment of 2021 with recent years
  • Managing customer expectations through uncertainty
  • Calculating landed costs of goods in a volatile environment
  • Updating planning and execution strategies to maximise flexibility and profit.

To read more about the webinar and to register, click here and save your place.

Supply chain management & planning solutions – 2021 buying trends revealed

Distribution, Logistics Management and Operations Management top the list of services the UK’s leading supply chain professionals are sourcing in 2021. The findings have been revealed by the Total Supply Chain Summit and are based on delegate requirements at this year’s events. Delegates registering to attend are asked which areas they needed to invest in during 2021 and beyond. A significant 60% are looking to invest in Distribution and 53.3% for Logistics Management. Operations Management and Supply Chain Planning both came in at 46.7%. Just behind were Delivery Management (40%) and Home Delivery Solutions (both 40%). % of delegates at the Total Supply Chain Summit sourcing certain products & solutions (Top 10): Distribution 60% Logistics Management 53.3% Operations Management 46.7% Supply Chain Planning & Optimisation Software 46.7% Delivery Management 40% Home Delivery Solutions 40% Outsourcing 40.0% Inventory Optimisation 33.3% Network Optimisation 33.3% Order Fulfillment 33.3% To find out more about the Total Supply Chain Summit, visit https://totalsupplychainsummit.co.uk.

71% of supply chain IoT projects only ‘somewhat successful’

UK organisations are being challenged with connectivity, device deployment and rollout to a greater extent than their US counterparts, according to a new State of IoT Adoption Study published by global IoT connectivity specialist Eseye.

41% of UK respondents said connectivity was a top challenge compared to 29% in the US. Likewise, 36% of UK respondents said device deployment and rollout was also a key issue, compared to only 28% of US respondents. This is likely because UK survey respondents have more multi-region deployments than those in the USA.

As a result, IoT projects have failed to reach their full potential according to three quarters of UK enterprises who have embarked upon an IoT initiative in the last 12 months.

The Study was undertaken by independent research organisation, Opinion Matters, among 250 UK and 250 USA-based senior decision makers and implementers of IoT strategy within five vertical markets. It explores the current state of IoT adoption; the challenges, opportunities and untapped potential of IoT; the impact of COVID-19 and how this has accelerated adoption; and the criticality of intelligent connectivity to fuel future growth.

Key UK IoT adoption findings:

  • 85% of UK respondents said IoT is a priority for their business.
  • 54% of respondents are planning further projects in the next two to three years.
  • 91% are planning budget increases for IoT initiatives; 41% plan to boost spending by between 51 and 100%.
  • 99% said that COVID-19 has impacted their IoT plans; for 28% it has accelerated development of their IoT initiative and 30% said they had increased investment plans. Only 19% of UK respondents had cancelled IoT initiatives owing to the pandemic, compared to 33% in the USA.
  • However, 76% of UK respondents said that their IoT project was at best only somewhat successful in meeting expectations and realising benefits.
  • Connectivity, device deployment and security were cited as top challenges; 41% said cellular connectivity was their biggest hurdle, while for 36% device deployment and rollout, and security had proved difficult.
  • Cellular IoT deployments have still not reached anywhere near critical mass; most UK respondents (90%) had deployed fewer than 10,000 devices.

IoT at a tipping point

The Study found the larger the project, the faster the acceleration as organisations embrace IoT. The more devices respondents have in the field, the more they are planning to deploy in the coming twelve months. This indicates a tipping point in IoT projects in terms of scale. However, of 250 UK respondents only 8% had deployed between 10,001 devices and 100,000 in the field and only 2% had deployed more than 100,000 devices.

Increasing profit, reducing costs, disrupting markets and business models

IoT projects are undertaken by innovative organisations to disrupt traditional business models and deliver tangible business benefits. When asked about the benefits their IoT initiative has or is predicted to deliver 36% of UK respondents said it increased profit, 34% said it enabled the business to enter new markets, 34% said it helped to reduce costs and 29% of respondents said their initiative was aimed at delivering new lines of business.

Nick Earle, CEO, Eseye, said: “Is IoT finally coming of age here in the UK? Certainly, our results indicate that there is a level of maturity and an eagerness to fuel adoption plans here in the UK. Surveyed UK companies see IoT as a way to increase profit and reduce costs as well as disrupt business models and introduce new product lines. However, adoption is not without its challenges. We know security and connectivity have been an issue for businesses rolling out large-scale IoT projects. To this point cellular connectivity was a far bigger challenge for UK respondents than USA, with 41% saying it was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome versus 29% in the US. This is likely down to the fact that UK respondents are more multi-region with deployments than the USA, where deployments still tend to be national and focused on the domestic market.”

Technology drivers

Cloud and remote access were cited as the top technology drivers by 48% of UK respondents which, given the events of the past year, is not surprising, as many businesses look to accelerate their digital transformation plans with IoT initiatives. 5G was the second highest technology driver for UK respondents with 42% compared to 35% in the USA where respondents rated LPWAN technologies (45%) and Intelligent Edge hardware (44%) higher.

Intelligent connectivity

As the UK market matures and more organisations embark on multi-region rollouts, the importance of intelligent connectivity is growing. UK respondents were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “I think the evolution of intelligent connectivity is going to be critical to continue to fuel adoption of IoT?” Overall, 81% of all UK respondents either somewhat or strongly agree with this statement. 33% strongly agree with this statement compared to 21% of respondents in the USA. In fact, nearly one-quarter of USA (23%) of respondents were ambivalent towards this statement, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.

Earle continued: “UK organisations are clearly determined to overcome the challenges they’ve identified, with 91% planning to increase budget, more than eight out of ten stating that IoT is a priority for the business, and over half of UK respondents planning future IoT projects. Therefore, IoT adoption is well under way and the pandemic has negatively impacted plans less here in the UK, with only 19% cancelling projects compared to nearly a third in the US. With that maturity comes challenges and certainly device onboarding and rollouts was cited as more of a challenge by UK respondents than USA. Likewise, 5G is definitely more on the radar here in the UK than the USA, which isn’t surprising as the UK was one of the earliest countries to officially commercialise 5G.”

Eseye’s State of IoT Adoption Report offers detailed analysis of the IoT challenges and trends affecting businesses in the UK and USA, and examines the variation between vertical markets including: Smart Vending; Supply Chain and Logistics; EV Charging and Smart Grid; Manufacturing; and Healthcare and Medical Devices.

Download the full report here.

Easing of lockdown and effect on the supply chain

With Step 4 of the Government’s ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’ delayed beyond June 21st, Oliver Hall, Managing Director at allmanhall, the independently owned food procurement experts, comments on its effect on the supply chain and the foodservice sector…

After a challenging fifteen months, the food service sector is trying to remobilise and welcome back customers but is facing added complications from a supply chain under extreme pressure from multiple lockdowns. The challenges faced by suppliers are nationwide, and are a culmination of factors including the re-opening of hospitality creating an unprecedented surge in demand, recent good weather resulting in further heightened demand, and an extreme shortage of drivers UK-wide.

With these unexpected pressures on the supply chain, one unavoidable outcome is changes to delivery days and delivery frequency being enacted by suppliers. The national shortage of HGV drivers has had a huge impact on the whole supply chain with foodservice suppliers experiencing a knock-on effect on both in-bound and out-bound deliveries. Suggestions and proposals are being made to the Government, in an attempt to alleviate the driver shortages, even including military intervention.

One way for foodservice providers to reduce the risk of inconvenience, is to place orders with suppliers  with as much advanced notice as possible,  a minimum of day 1 for day 3 ordering wherever feasible. These longer lead times will reduce disappointment and help ensure orders are booked before any temporary cut offs are imposed by suppliers. Some suppliers are also making other adjustments, such as restricting the availability of a significant number of ambient and non-food split product lines. This will help to speed up picking times and help vehicle dispatch times, thus helping to meet delivery expectations.

Forward planning and communication are crucial when it comes to placing orders or liaising with suppliers over stock shortages and alternatives. However, all sectors of the hospitality industry have had to adapt “on the job” to deal with major changes in the way they operate. Staff shortages and training deficits is a worrying outcome of the lockdown, and together with depleted financial reserves, and the intensity of new operational requirements (increased cleaning, sanitisation, supervision of customers to ensure they are leaving their contact details, logging in using track and trace), may impact back-office tasks. 

By allocating these tasks to team members and ensuring they have the capacity to do the work along with other operational requirements, pressures can be eased.  It’s important to remember that all suppliers are struggling and many are working together to address shortages and meet customer’s demands. Another alternative is to outsource to a procurement provider, who will have a case and resolution handling service, and a helpdesk who can contact suppliers on your behalf.

Another result of the pandemic has been a rise in prices of foodstuffs. allmanhall operates analysis and insight updates throughout the year on food pricing, and 2021 is likely to be a volatile year which  is now being experienced through the supply chain. Many input prices and raw material costs are at the highest that they have been during the last 4 years, with a resulting rise in food prices.

A procurement expert will monitor these price fluctuations, negotiating and mitigating price increases as much as possible.

Digitalisation in the supply chain – Better solutions made easier

By Kevin Rogers, Managing Director, Elanders UK

The COVID pandemic has resulted in much being written about the importance of a robust supply chain and how it is managed and controlled. In that context, what has the past 18 months taught us as consumers and as managers in the supply chain? Amongst many:

  • The need for greater supply chain resilience and the better use of data / technology.
  • The need for agility in both the design and execution of a supply chain solution.
  • Cost is important – but – is it all that is important?
  • Greater clarity on product segregation that we now buy – critical to have vs like to have. 

Progress and evolution of supply chain solutions will always keep happening – what worked yesterday will probably have to change and adapt to meet tomorrow’s needs. Keeping businesses fresh and on point, utilising the latest technology and data to support this constant evolution is now the norm. For businesses – this constant progression and development of solutions is a fundamental strategic requirement to be successful in the future.

As consumers, we have seen a rapid change in both what we buy, but more importantly how we buy the products and items we need. The prolific rise in the e-commerce and omni-channel retail use is also changing the business landscape. For retailers, who historically managed the direct customer interface and engagement in a physical shop, they now must pivot their customer experience to more of the on-line solution – where the actual physical interface and engagement is now via the supply chain solution and delivery.

E-commerce solutions though have their problems. As consumers, we become increasingly more defined on what items we now want and buy on-line, and it is easy to get frustrated and “dissatisfied” with the buying experience because of the lack of personalisation, engagement and communication that may happen during a sale. Where this is really visible though is in how returns are managed and processed from consumer back to the retailer. 

This is where the Elanders Supply Chain return product integrated platform can support. Using technology and data to make better informed decisions that benefit both the consumer and the retailer. 

  • For the consumer – how they feel the returns process is conducted and how they feel the interaction back with the retailer values them.
  • For the retailer – how it allows both a bespoke classification of the individual consumer and what return rules apply per individual and how each specific SKU is assessed for its e-commerce profitability and contribution.

Historically – many organisations had one business solution for all return’s management and interaction with the consumer. Today, there is now a single returns management platform and operational solution that is agile in its structure, adaptable in its scale and customisable in its interaction with individual consumer. The Elanders platform integrates the customer returns experience with the retailing profitability needs – data driven technology that makes a better solution for all and helps make life that little bit easier.

Elanders Supply Chain: Customer returns solutions – Reimagined. 

For further info please visit www.elanders.co.uk or contact addingvalue@elanders.com.