Just as a setup of domino tiles, technology changes the way people consume things and the way to do business and so, it changes the market, forcing logistics to change as well.
In this sense, when we think of supermarkets and future food businesses, we must think of adjusting their supply chains.
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In Italy, Professor Carlo Ratti Associati of Medical Innovative Tecnologhy (MIT), created another concept for a technology-based supermarket, where we can see all the information for each organic product in a screen placed in front of clients. The display offers information on where the product was grown, its condition, nutritional properties, and even its carbon footprint. Ratti built the first supermarket of tomorrow available to the public: Coop, in Milano.
Now, these future supermarkets demand a supply chain capable of meeting the strict demands and expectations of customers and final users.
The supply chain of tomorrow
Currently, most supply chains are designed to meet the preferences of yesterday’s consumers: low cost, standardization, and convenience. However, today’s consumers want to find local and customized products, and an ease to purchase them quickly. This has shaken the foundations of the industry’s current model and its supply chain; therefore, we need to adapt the focus of its logistics.
How will logistics be affected by these changes?
Specialized staff at warehouses. With these advances, distribution centers are expected to become factories staffed with better qualified employees in the long run; using technology to achieve the highest standards of efficiency and speed. New positions related to these technologies will be created because workers will no longer have to handle loads manually, which will lower the rate of work accidents.
More visibility and increased food safety. Ensuring the quality of food products intended for human consumption is critical; hence, end-to-end visibility in the supply chain becomes vital for making sure products do not deteriorate during transportation. Therefore, progress in monitoring and locating, and the ability to track food using chips, is essential. Thanks to RFID technology, every product in tomorrow’s supply chain will eventually include a chip. It has come to the point where the tally of warehouse items is expected to be automated soon, saving man hours.
Improved management of the cold chain. Undoubtedly, the management of the cold chain has arrived at a new landscape: the sophisticated tracking and monitoring of temperature through the Internet of Things (IoT). Furthermore, the market for the cold chain is huge and continues to grow due, in part, to the growth in the international trading of perishable foodstuffs, increased demand from consumers of high-quality perishable foodstuffs, and the technological advancements in refrigerated warehousing and transportation.
Predictive analysis and decisions in real time. It has to do with the anticipated planning of both the strategy and the performance. Forecasting the future is the next major step for the supply chain’s commercial intel; improving the accuracy of the forecast, optimizing the performance of transportation, enhancing the monitoring and tracking of products, and analyzing the returns of products, mainly.
Analytical growth in the supply chain regarding monitoring and tracking, as well as the non-real time analysis for databases will take some time.
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Technology is the foundation of all these changes in the management and distribution network of logistics. It has created new challenges and new opportunities for companies, which now have access to new strategic tools for improving competitiveness and for continuing meeting the needs of clients.