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Tired of trying to make sense of all the information that’s flowing into your business?

Editorial – February / March 2018

If you haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions as yet, perhaps now’s the time to get onboard with big data.

Material Handling & Logistics (MH&L) magazine in the US predicts that the supply chain industry will get a complete makeover this year due to the rise in the use of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms. So what are the main trends, and are you ready?

One of the key trends is what MH&L refers to as ‘elastic logistics’ – the ability to be able to expand and shrink capabilities as demands within the supply chain change. It’s all about meeting the needs of the end consumer. And they now have more choice than ever before in terms of where to buy, how much to buy, and when and how that order is to be delivered.

Seasonal demands are relatively easy to forecast – stores know that they’re going to need a lot of fans and air-conditioning units at this time of the year (although January’s rocketing temperatures this year have seen demand far outstrip supply), but a key trend this year will be the increasing use of ‘big data’ algorithms and smart analytics which anticipate product demand – the modern day equivalent of crystal ball gazing – allowing companies to plan and align their operations well in advance.

Heard of Industry 4.0? It’s the name coined for this new industrial revolution – the ‘computerisation of manufacturing’. Industry 4.0 concepts can deliver smart operations for distribution businesses, and are explored in an article by Swisslog in this edition of FTD.

Courier companies, for example, now collect data in real time at every step of the delivery process, from pickup at the point of origin through to delivery to the end user. Add in GPS tracking of their vehicles, weather information from the MetService, plus congestion reporting from the local traffic authority, and the same courier company can make more informed forecasts about future schedules and routes.

What’s the use of all the data though without someone to make sense of it? One business strategist predicts businesses will need a new managerial role this year – that of data curator.

So if you haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions as yet, perhaps now’s the time to get onboard with big data.

Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor


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