Managing Complexity While Reducing Costs

Food manufacturers and distributors are coping with the proliferation of SKUs, lack of supply chain visibility and increasing customer demands with technology.


For this reason, intelligent alerting will also be big. This will be a feature of applications in a lot of areas, in any situation where you’re managing by exception vs. being able to track everything directly.

To this end, more integrated utilization of POS data, especially in the area of improving demand forecasting, by getting early reads on changes to your forecast, and combing that with SOP practices to mount a response, will also figure in further supply chain improvements.

Given the ever-increasing reliance on automated exchanges of data, back-office data management technologies will also gain traction. A lot of big companies, for example, are building data management organizations today, using tools like master data management systems. Senior management is starting to understand how important accurate data is in driving their business.

Chossek: Distributor portals are good today, but they still have a way to go to become as relevant as they need to be. Improvements we’d like to see range from shorter refresh times on data to more abilities for users like us to manipulate data in ways that are meaningful to us. Also, track and trace capability, from one end of the supply chain to the other, will have to improve. I’d hope that 10 years from now, I could sit in my office and on one screen, whether through a website or some other technology, see what my inventory is at every distribution point at any given time, down to the store level.

Sieberg: More people will evolve to a kind of super-regional concept, deploying more, smaller distribution centers closer to customers, serviced by larger supply centers for certain pools of inventory. Ten years from now, we’ll also see new transportation networks n the U.S. that replicate elements of today’s European networks, with third-party transportation providers delivering stops for pools of customers, the way dedicated 3PLs currently provide customized warehousing services.

Gavigan: The big issues we see coming are country-of-origin labeling and lot tracking. These are both areas where we currently have capabilities, but haven’t been forced yet to actually apply them. Capturing such data will add significant amounts of labor to the receiving process, because this information is not currently readily available from most vendors. That’s going to have to change.

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