The Reuters Supply Chain USA conference held in Chicago, IL on May 17-18, brought together industry leaders, experts, and professionals to discuss the latest trends and challenges in the supply chain landscape. The conference touched upon various themes, including the importance of diversity in driving innovation, building resilient supply chains, adapting to technological advancements, and nurturing a skilled and engaged workforce. Let’s delve into the key insights from the conference and explore how these common themes intersect to shape the future of supply chain operations.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion for Innovation
Diversity emerged as a recurring topic at the conference, with speakers emphasizing its pivotal role in driving innovation. Dow Chemical, for instance, highlighted the importance of diverse ideas and perspectives for generating innovative solutions. By showcasing successful career paths of women within the company, Dow Chemical aims to encourage diversity and empower women in supply chain roles. The message was clear: embracing diversity is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage for businesses seeking to stay ahead of the curve.
Building Resilient Supply Chains
In a rapidly changing world, building resilient supply chains has become paramount. Toyota Motor North America shared its secret to supply chain resilience, attributing its success to a culture of learning, strong leadership, and a sense of community among its employees. By investing in relationships and fostering trust, Toyota has built a resilient supply chain capable of weathering challenges. The conference underscored the need for organizations to focus on people, relationships, and a shared purpose to navigate uncertainties and create opportunities for transformation.
“Be curious and expand your understanding to elevate your team to a better place.”
Kevin Austin, Group Vice President, Demand & Supply Management at Toyota Motor North America
Harnessing Technology and Adapting to Change
Technology and automation were discussed extensively, recognizing their potential to improve efficiency, job satisfaction, and retention. Samsara highlighted the changing skills needed in the workforce, with research indicating that one-sixth of employees will be engaged in jobs that do not exist yet in the next 2 years. Dataiku emphasized the importance of people and change management in AI implementation, stressing that technology should augment human capabilities rather than replace them. Adopting a proactive approach, organizations were encouraged to embrace technology, prioritize worker experience, and remain open to change to stay ahead of the curve.
3 tips to stay ahead of the curve
Jeff Hausman, CPO at Samsara
1 – Embrace technology
2 – Never forget about worker experience
3 – Be open to change and new ways of doing business
Balancing People and Robotics in Warehouse Operations
With the current labor shortage and evolving customer demands, the role of robotics and automation in warehouse operations gained prominence. Locus Robotics and DHL emphasized the significance of creating a positive culture, providing training, and engaging employees in the adoption of robotics. While automation is inevitable, successful implementation requires good leadership, change management strategies, and a focus on the people behind the technology. The speakers, including Butterfly.ai’s very own COO, Simon Rakosi, echoed the sentiment that humans will remain an integral part of warehouse operations, offering flexibility and adaptability to react to a changing world.
“Humans allow for flexibility to react to a changing world”
Ben Perslon, Sr. Innovation Manager – Robotics & Automation Lead at DHL
The Supply Chain USA 2023 conference shed light on the common themes that are shaping the future of supply chain operations. Embracing diversity and inclusion not only fosters innovation but also enhances organizations’ ability to adapt to change and build resilient supply chains. The successful integration of technology and automation depends on the effective management of people and change. As organizations navigate a rapidly evolving landscape, focusing on culture, training, and engaging employees will be essential to unlocking the full potential of technological advancements. Ultimately, the human element will continue to be the driving force behind supply chain operations, enabling organizations to navigate challenges and seize new opportunities.