5 Supply Chain Predictions for 2015

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With international crises like the Ebola outbreak and political turbulence in Hong Kong, 2014 has been anything but dull for news affecting the global supply chain. But what will the new year mean for suppliers? Here are our top insights and predictions for 2015: 

1. Stay on Top of the News Cycle

Supply chains in 2015 will be leaner and more interdependent than ever. Cost-optimized supply chains, while efficient, can also be dangerously brittle in the face of something like a natural disaster or labor conflict. Without much buffer to absorb incoming shocks, companies will have to focus on being hyper-informed about current events that might affect their supply chain.

2. Transparency Matters

Transparency Matters. Being aware of the news affecting your supply chain is only the first part of the solution. For suppliers to fully bulletproof themselves from unpredictable disturbances, they will have to stay informed about every node in their supply chain, from sourcing origins to retail shelves, aka “N-Tier Visibility”.  

3. Oil Prices are Low, but Only for Now

Shale oil is dropping at an unprecedented pace, which is lowering fuel-based shipment costs in the short term—but such low prices won’t last forever. 2015 will see suppliers focusing on more flexible shipment strategies to adapt to these changes.

 4. Robots will Change the Nature of Factory Work

More and more companies are using highly sophisticated robotics for tasks previously assigned to humans, such as shipment sorting and even automated driving. These machines could cut costs and increase efficiency in manufacturing. 

5. The Port Slowdown Continues

West Coast ports from Los Angeles to Portland are facing a major slowdown. The ports in Southern California alone account for 40 percent of goods shipped into the U.S. and 30 percent of those leaving. While there might not be a full-force strike, reports show no signs of the 10 month conflict ending in the near future. Ports in Canada and Mexico will see a boom as suppliers plan alternate routes to avoid the West Coast conflict.

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