The Ever-Ready Food & Beverage Supply Chain

Recently, I was talking with JDA’s Srini Muthusrinivasan, senior global industry strategies director, about trends in the global food and beverage supply chain. One of the points he emphasized was that while the food and beverage industry has generally lagged behind other industries—such as automotive and high-tech—when it comes to supply chain complexity and excellence, the requirements of the “B2Me” model was pushing the food and beverage industry to become “ever-ready” to meet today’s demands, including consumers’ expectations for immediate availability and personalization of products to the ongoing proliferation of SKUs and perishables.

To support an ever-ready food and beverage supply chain, and one that guarantees the right product is available at the right time, planning must occur in real time and simultaneously be customer-centric. He calls this integrated business planning, which is characterized by a culture of transparency and collaboration that extends throughout the ecosystem. As expected, integrated business planning also delivers higher profits and mitigates risk.

Furthermore, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud are helping enable real-time data visibility and exchange, and also reducing the latency of information and data that existed previously—in turn, putting even more pressure on execution.

What does this mean for warehouse operators, 3PLs, transportation and logistics providers, equipment manufacturers, and others in our industry? It means that the embrace of automation, supply chain digitization, including the IoT and machine learning, are mandatory.

This issue’s cover story on warehouse automation reveals how this sector is staying ahead of these requirements. Meanwhile, our coverage on fleet managers, lift trucks, autonomous vehicles and the ocean carrier industry also reflect this new paradigm.

Not that long ago, the world’s leading companies were measured on the excellence of their supply chains. While that is still true today, the adoption and application of technology has become an undeniable part of that measurement.

Enjoy the read.