Miebach has presented the results of the latest edition of its Consumer Goods supply chain study, which included the participation of more than 400 companies in 40 countries. The study has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to adapt to a new reality, transforming their long-term strategies and bringing forward actions they had not planned to take in the short term.
Fig. 1a: Main schallanges for the supply chain_part 1
Fig. 1b: Main schallanges for the supply chain_part 2
Fig 2 Legend
For example, 80% of participants said that COVID-19 had prompted them to prioritize and bring forward measures to increase their resilience, and 76% indicated measures to improve their risk management. There are also other aspects that were already relevant before the pandemic and are now even more so, such as digitalization and e-commerce - 74% of the participating companies reported prioritizing the implementation of e-commerce strategies.
Challenges for the future
There is a broad consensus among the survey participants as to what the biggest challenges are, although not all of them are new: costs and customer service are still the most relevant issues. However, the increased role of demand planning and control is very noticeable. This change is a direct consequence of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the bottlenecks in global production. Participants also agree that digitalization, automation and e-commerce strategy are challenging areas but present great opportunities (see figure 1).
Digitalization and process automation
Comparing the results of this edition with the previous one, we can see that there is a significant increase in the number of companies that are committed to technologies related to data collection and management (Big Data Analytics, Control Towers, etc.). Again, we must link this data to the pandemic, which has highlighted the difficulty of managing a long and complex supply chain, as well as retaining staff. In this respect, digitization is a very effective tool, as it reduces risk in decision-making and reduces reliance on the human factor. Data analytics and automation technologies are joined by AI: companies planning to start using it in their processes has increased by 22%.
In terms of automation, the main focus of companies continues to be automating processes in the warehouse area, a well-established trend with proven benefits. If we compare the current automation results with those of two years ago, we can see that there has been an 11% increase in automatic case picking, due to the increasing fragmentation of orders.
Approximately 66% of participants have planned or intend to plan actions towards a sustainable strategy to reduce their environmental impact. Reduction of packaging material is the initiative that most companies are currently working on and has the highest success rate of implementation (96%), while analysis of the carbon footprint of the supply chain is the most frequently developed activity. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that there are already mandatory emission reduction pacts and agreements in place in most countries, so the business community has had to prioritise this issue. Another relevant trend is towards sustainable supply and production (see figure 2).
In terms of implementation success, the average is 85.5%, a higher rate than for other initiatives not related to sustainability, but where there is still room for improvement. The preference for reducing environmental impacts on production (89% of companies) as opposed to reducing environmental impacts on transport (60% of companies) is also notable. The reality is that companies prioritise those measures related to sustainability that, in addition to being an improvement for the environment, also increase the level of efficiency and/or costs of the company.
The report with the detailed results of the study can be requested free of charge through this link.