While the fourth industrial revolution has been underway for years, it was abruptly accelerated as COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020. The challenges and obstacles this crisis created for manufacturing environments, assembly lines, and supply chains called for the implementation of technology in a much quicker manner, no matter what the current state of an organization’s technological maturity was. Almost instantly, the focus of supply chain management became crisis management, and this became a major catalyst for digitization and automation.
The substantial adoption of robotics and autonomous operations for warehouses and distribution centers and for order and inventory fulfillment. This is critical for the “lights out” scenario that happened during COVID-19, and also for operational efficiency and worker safety.
AI, advanced analytics and IOT in supply chain have been used in operations before, but the crisis put a spotlight on the need for these technologies to truly optimize supply chains. The ability to analyze massive quantities of historical data and collect real-time data will be crucial to efficiently optimize decision making, and substantially reduce costs and errors.
COVID 19 has put a strain on last mile delivery. Many retailers and consumer businesses had to start home deliveries overnight. This, together with the shift in consumer behavior; for example, pushing back on long waiting times, and the need for contactless deliveries has brought technology front and center in the past few months. These changes will play a huge role in the future of last mile delivery.