A look ahead at what the supply chain should consider in 2016

Sven Boddington, Teleplan’s VP Client Solutions & Marketing takes a look ahead at what the supply chain should consider in 2016. Sven believes in truly understanding Teleplan customers’ needs to a level which then enables them to really help them to achieve their goals. He encourages his team to always listen, learn, and improve. He believes that success in business is a constant learning journey enriched through strong communication and some fun along the way.

Circular Economy

We all need to give up our throwaway habits. It is essential that as an industry we keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times. Asset management should be an essential part of all of our processes. We should be looking at how we can constantly improve on how we are re-using, maintaining and disposing of goods cost-effectively in order to optimise a product’s lifecycle.

In a circular economy we will re-use, re-manufacture and recycle and see products such as a smartphone or TV in a different way, not as they are but as opportunities for continuous value creation, using their parts.

For the supply chain and particularly the after market services (AMS) industry this necessitates a sincere revaluation of our practices. We need to innovate our business models, reformulating the way we work to place the concepts of continuous value creation as a key cornerstone of our ethos and procedure. In accommodating this, 2016 will see an emphasis upon the refurbishment of parts and products.

Repair Avoidance

For OEMs, retailers and network operators, repair avoidance is crucial. The ‘always on’ consumer has multiple devices that they depend on every day and expect back in their hands as quickly as possible should anything go wrong. Consequently there is an evolving sense of urgency and dependency attached to the repair process which an avoidance procedure will increasingly have to take into account.

In 2016 we will see AMS companies become a bigger part of product lifecycles to help address this challenge. This will include dedicated engineering teams who are specialists in electronics testing and diagnostics, continuing to develop faster and more advanced processes to identify and if possible resolve issues as early as possible in the reverse logistics process.

Wearables

Investment in wearable technology is growing exponentially and the supply chain has to be prepared for the influx of new devices, allocating resources and sourcing new parts, as well as ensuring all technicians and other relevant people are trained. The supply chain could also look to incorporate wearables into its own procedures. For example, in 2016 we may begin to see how smartwatches could help site managers observe real-time performance of business processes, outputs, inventory levels and delivery times, which as a result should improve productivity by utilising this information to make informed decisions.

Wearable technology is a relatively new product category in which we have currently only just seen a significant push of products into the market and towards consumers. We are yet to see the reverse of this which is where the AMS industry will be involved.

Legislation/Regulation

As well as the regulations we have to contend with on a daily basis, in regards to machinery and equipment safety, electronics testing procedures and safe waste disposal, there are also larger evolving legislative requirements which must be adhered. One such legislation is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment recycling (WEEE) Directive, which was recently revised with changes that came into force across Europe, for example in the UK on 1st January 2014 and in Germany on 25th October 2015, and these will broaden further by 2019. This should prove to have a significant impact upon retailers, OEMs and the supply chain. It will reveal itself to be a particular challenge on account of the variances that exist between countries in regards to what they do recycle and in concern of what government targets they are obligated to achieve.

The supply chain industry will be looking to take the lead in this respect by providing incentives and compliance requirements for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. This will ensure that when electronic products/components are collected they will be effectively and economically reused or recycled at registered waste facilities suitable for all types of electronic waste rather than going to landfill.

Leveraging Data Analytics

Data analysis is becoming more sophisticated and has already proven itself to be a real asset for future business procedures. There are multiple benefits of leveraging data analytics, including reducing forecasting errors, enabling informed forward planning decisions and better predictions for product and parts demand. This in turn results in the quicker execution of new ideas and in the delivery of a higher level of service to customers.

Data analytics is going to become more prevalent and the AMS industry needs to get better at efficiently collating and acting upon the volumes of data that we all have. In 2016 we will undoubtedly see companies looking to place a greater emphasis upon the capacity and utilisation of data analytics as it demonstrates to not only be good for processes but also beneficial for future product version developments and next generation products.

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