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  • 10 Supply Chain Trends to Watch for in 2022


By: Adam James

Industries across the globe continue to battle the Great Supply Chain Disruption. They’re striving to optimize execution, diminish risk, improve dexterity and identify ways to gain a real competitive advantage. To achieve these goals, it will be essential to overcome today’s intense labor challenges, maximize the latest digital transformation capabilities, streamline sourcing and inventory management, prioritize customer centricity, and much more. Getting ahead of key trends will enable supply chains to proactively shape a successful, sustainable future. Read on to discover what’s coming in 2022 and beyond.

1. Advanced analytics and automation

Advanced analytics and automation will continue to accelerate, helping organizations mitigate disruption via digital, agile supply chain management. The implementation of predictive and prescriptive analytics — as well as advances in big data, algorithms and robotics — will have broad-reaching effects. Specifically, the organizations that harness the power of these solutions will benefit from greater visibility, data-driven decision-making, execution efficiency, predictability and profitability. Of course, all of this hinges on effective data security and governance, as well as a dedication to reskilling employees.

2. Supply chain talent

Supply chain talent is critical to supporting ongoing industry advances, solutions and frameworks — and as such, people at all levels of supply chain should expect to experience new ways of working. Anticipate a convergence of training, plus better pay and benefits for existing employees; as well as hiring talent with foundational skills in data analytics. Organizations must be creative when attracting, reskilling and retaining talent, as traditional approaches may not be as relevant to future supply chain needs.

3. Visibility

Visibility will be a key objective for organizations under pressure to achieve true transformation, satisfy customers and capture new markets. People are willing to pay more for ethical and responsible business processes, and this will be a catalyst for investment in supporting technologies. For instance, as the ability to track and trace goods to the source is increasingly expected by consumers, the internet of things will continue revolutionizing real-time visibility. Look for new business models and heightened trust and collaboration within and beyond organizational boundaries.

4. The rise of e-commerce

The rise of e-commerce is perhaps the most obvious and commonly understood force affecting today’s supply chains. All around the world, warehouses are jam packed — some even have products piling up outside their doors. In fact, this incredible demand squeeze represents the longest ongoing expansion peak in five years. E-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment will continue to shape the way organizations identify and establish key priorities, creating challenges with regards to scale and network efficiency while producing new opportunities to gain competitive advantage.

5. Supply chain resilience

Supply chain resilience will continue to require data expertise, novel solutions and strong collaboration among global networks that are highly complex and interconnected. Key strategies include diversification of suppliers, production capabilities and transportation processes, as well as finding alternative materials and nontraditional partnerships. Resilient supply chain design will also be critical to mitigating adverse events faster than the competition, providing excellent customer service, and generating value and market share.

6. Supply chain agility

Supply chain agility will be essential to creating flexible networks that can effectively respond to dynamic customer demand and ever-increasing uncertainty. It will be important to proactively identify ways to increase responsiveness through variable cost structures. However, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach, organizations must also foster continuously innovative cultures. The agile supply chains of the future will be those that can react quickly to changes, delays and unexpected events in order to meet customer expectations, outpace the competition and drive growth.

7. Digital supply chains

Digital supply chains will continue to be essential elements of numerous trends on this list, including visibility, resilience and agility. Digitized networks use technology to augment workflow and data collection — meaning that this trend has ramifications on both talent and data infrastructures. Successfully digitizing supply chains requires large-scale sensor implementation via the internet of things; shared internal and external interfaces, such as cloud-based networks; and process automation and verification. The adoption of tools such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning will meaningfully improve decision-making.

8. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is critical to protecting networks from cyberattacks, which continue to be a dominant threat to supply chains around the world. The explosion of data and data-driven organizations through previously mentioned digital tools is creating many more areas of vulnerability. This interconnectedness means supply chain partners can inadvertently expose each other and their customers to privacy breaches, identity theft and worse. Expect greater collaboration when safeguarding networks, devices, people and programs. In addition, more organizations will choose to invest in redundancy, firewalls, and advanced antihacking technologies and employee training.

9. Customer-centricity

Customer-centricity is on the minds of supply chain professionals everywhere, as consumer expectations continue to expand and — as noted earlier — people demand ethical, sustainable business practices. Managing a successful supply chain will require upskilling talent with greater cross-functional and analytical skills so people have the training to support these new levels of customer-centricity. Those supply chains that find ways to meet today’s escalating and intense customer expectations at the lowest cost will prevail.

10. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, key components of numerous trends on this list, are foundational to integrating people, processes and systems in a wide array of operational environments. The technology-driven evolution to industry 5.0 — which involves a more collaborative approach, as well as partnerships between humans and robots — will have significant impact on supply chain functions such as planning, demand management and fulfillment. As machines learn, improved insights will be discovered, leading to significant transformation, advancement and competitive advantage.

Watch a video discussion of the top supply chain trends to watch for in 2022 from the ASCM Research, Innovation and Strategy Committee (RISC) Sensing Subcommittee. 

About the Author

Adam James Vice President of North American surface transportation, CH Robinson

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Emerging Topics
  • Operational Excellence
  • Cybersecurity
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Digital Supply Chain
  • Professional and Workforce Development
  • Talent, Leadership and Culture

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supply chain research topics 2022

Future-proofing the supply chain

Supply chains matter. The plumbing of global commerce has rarely been a topic of much discussion in newsrooms or boardrooms, but the past two years have pushed the subject to the top of the agenda. The COVID-19 crisis , postpandemic economic effects , and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine  have exposed the vulnerabilities of today’s global supply chains. They have also made heroes of the teams that keep products flowing in a complex, uncertain, and fast-changing environment . Supply chain leaders now find themselves in an unfamiliar position: they have the attention of top management and a mandate to make real change.

Forward-thinking chief supply chain officers (CSCOs) now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to future-proof their supply chains. And they can do that by recognizing the three new priorities alongside the function’s traditional objectives of cost/capital, quality, and service 1 Employee safety, food safety, and employee retention are considered operational preconditions, not supply chain objectives. and redesigning their supply chains accordingly.

The first of these new priorities, resilience, addresses the challenges that have made supply chain a widespread topic of conversation. The second, agility, will equip companies with the ability to meet rapidly evolving, and increasingly volatile, customer and consumer needs. The third, sustainability, recognizes the key role that supply chains will play in the transition to a clean and socially just economy (Exhibit 1).

Boosting supply chain resilience

Supply chains have always been vulnerable to disruption . Prepandemic research by the McKinsey Global Institute found that, on average, companies experience a disruption of one to two months in duration every 3.7 years . In the consumer goods sector, for example, the financial fallout of these disruptions over a decade is likely to equal 30 percent of one year’s EBITDA.

Historical data also show that these costs are not inevitable. In 2011, Toyota suffered six months of reduced production following the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But the carmaker revamped its production strategy, regionalized supply chains, and addressed supplier vulnerabilities. When another major earthquake hit Japan in April 2016, Toyota was able to resume production after only two weeks.

During the pandemic’s early stages, sportswear maker Nike accelerated a supply chain technology program that used radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track products flowing through outsourced manufacturing operations. The company also used predictive-demand analytics to minimize the impact of store closures across China. By rerouting inventory from in-store to digital-sales channels and acting early to minimize excess inventory buildup across its network, the company was able to limit sales declines in the region to just 5 percent. Over the same period, major competitors suffered much more significant drops in sales.

Supply chain risk manifests at the intersection of vulnerability and exposure to unforeseen events (Exhibit 2). The first step in mitigating that risk is a clear understanding of the organization’s supply chain vulnerabilities. Which suppliers, processes, or facilities present potential single points of failure in the supply chain? Which critical inputs are at risk from shortages or price volatility?

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In 2021, for example, many companies in North America were affected by labor shortages  across their supply chain operations. Tackling those shortages has forced companies to be creative in their hiring and staffing strategy. One food distributor created regional floating labor pools of drivers, warehouse workers, and supervisors, recruiting staff in areas where they were more available and deploying them wherever they were most needed. Other companies are building their labor pipeline-management capabilities—from recruiting through retention—and sharpening their labor planning as well.

Today, most organizations lack effective systems to measure and monitor those vulnerabilities, and few have such visibility beyond their direct suppliers. In a 2021 McKinsey survey  of senior supply chain executives, just under half said they understood the location of their tier-one suppliers and the key risks those suppliers face. But only 2 percent could make the same claim about suppliers in the third tier and beyond. That matters because most disruptions originate in these deeper supply chain tiers.

Closing the industry’s current knowledge gaps will require it to increase its surveillance of supply chain participants and its understanding of the physical, financial, political, and social risks they may face (Exhibit 3). The complexity and diversity of supply chain risks require smart management tools, and leading companies are applying a range of new techniques, from digital alerting systems to track potential disruptive events to risk “heat maps” that help them focus their attention on high-risk regions and suppliers.

Companies will also need a management infrastructure to steer a proactive response to these risks. Such an infrastructure would include a dedicated team, headed by a senior leader, with the remit to identify, prioritize, and respond to vulnerabilities. Those responses might include structural changes to the supply chain, as well as the development of detailed contingency plans for disruptive events. Introducing resilience metrics into supply chain KPIs helps the whole organization to ensure supply chain design and execution decisions are made in a way that balances efficiency and vulnerability. And because supply chain risk is a continually moving target, the organization should conduct regular stress tests and reviews to ensure its resilience measures remain appropriate.

Increasing supply chain agility

Customer loyalty is no longer a given. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, 77 percent of US consumers changed stores, brands, or the way they shop . Much of that change was driven by necessity. People went online when they couldn’t access their regular stores, and two-thirds said that lack of availability was the primary reason for switching brands. The big winners of the crisis were companies, often the largest players, that could keep products flowing to their customers in a difficult operating environment.

In the postpandemic economy, established brands will face new challenges. As consumer-generated content replaces traditional brand marketing campaigns, companies have less control over the peaks or troughs of demand. Where a business might have once spent months preparing its supply chains for a carefully targeted promotional campaign, now a single viral video can bring attention from millions of consumers overnight. One consumer goods manufacturer experienced a surge in demand in 2020 after a video of a customer enjoying its product on a skateboard ride received millions of views and spawned dozens of imitators.

New players are disrupting retail channels too, widening available choices and creating space for smaller, independent manufacturers. While consumers opted for the security of big brands during the COVID-19 pandemic, a preference for smaller producers is rising, especially among younger cohorts. And the growth of comanufacturing businesses and third-party logistics (3PLs) organizations means new entrants can compete in consumer markets with fewer expensive manufacturing and supply chain assets.

For incumbents, the lesson is clear: move at the same speed as consumers. That means creating innovative products and brands that meet the changing needs of different consumer groups as those needs emerge. And it means greater skill in managing complex portfolios of brands with different market characteristics and delivering their products through multiple channels. These same pressures increasingly hold true for B2B businesses as well, as increased consumer product complexity and demand volatility trickle down the supply chain.

This fast-moving, fragmented, consumer-centric world will require a different sort of supply chain. Traditional supply chains sought to achieve stability and minimize costs. Future supply chains will need to be much more dynamic—and be able to predict, prepare, and respond to rapidly evolving demand and a continually changing product and channel mix. In short, supply chains will need to become agile .

The good news for CSCOs is that agility and resilience are highly complementary: an agile supply chain is inherently more resilient. To be truly effective, however, this agility would need to extend into R&D, procurement, planning, manufacturing, and logistics (Exhibit 4).

At the planning stage, for example, supply chain teams will need to work in a much more proactive way. As potential market opportunities are identified, the supply chain function can begin creating scenarios that are ready for implementation alongside the development of the new product or market offering. After launch, the use of advanced techniques for demand sensing and dynamic forecasting, aided by machine learning technologies, is set to become an essential part of day-to-day supply chain operations.

In supply chain execution, agility requires new capabilities and tools. Agile operations make extensive use of digital technologies in manufacturing, for example, and maximize the use of smart automation in both production and logistics settings. Unlike the rigid supply chain automation systems of the past, technologies such as collaborative robots and smart packaging machines are capable of faster changeovers and can handle a much wider range of products and shipment types.

The drive for agility may require companies to reassess make-versus-buy decisions. In manufacturing, for example, big players typically keep the production of their stable, high-volume products in-house, using comanufacturers for niche and special projects. Leading companies appear likely to invert this trend, investing in flexible core assets and skills that allow their own manufacturing to respond quickly to rapidly changing demands—and, in some cases, outsourcing stable, high-volume products to cost-advantaged external providers. In downstream logistics, meanwhile, greater use of 3PLs may become the most cost-effective way to increase asset flexibility and proximity to customers.

Agile supply chains will also need skilled, flexible people. An agile supply chain workforce is comfortable working with and alongside advanced technologies, and personnel may need a wider range of skills so they can move between tasks as business needs change. Accordingly, agile supply chains make use of agile teams and working methods, borrowing elements of the approach that have transformed flexibility, productivity, and quality in the software industry and beyond. Agile organizational principles are well-described elsewhere , but key elements of the approach include the use of tight-knit, cross-functional teams that work together to implement new concepts and solve difficult problems in short, incremental sprints. These principles are already gaining traction across a range of industries: one major consumer products manufacturer is using “flow to work” pools in its global support functions to dynamically allocate staff to projects, for example.

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Digital twins: The art of the possible in product development and beyond

Achieving supply chain sustainability.

Post-COVID-19 consumers have become even more likely to prefer brands that offer robust sustainability credentials and a strong purpose, but industry surveys conducted in mid-2020 suggested that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) topics slipped down companies’ list of priorities during the pandemic. Big players are now making up for lost time. In 2021, 29 percent of companies included ESG metrics in their staff incentive plans, for example, a seven percentage-point uptick over the previous year.

Companies looking to avoid the increasing reputational, regulatory, and financial risks of poor ESG performance are being pressed to act. And as companies such as Henkel have shown, strong environmental actions are also delivering real operational results: a digital twin connects and benchmarks 30 factories and prescribes real-time sustainability actions, which over ten years have reduced energy consumption by almost 40 percent and waste by 20 percent.

The supply chain has a central role to play in the enterprise sustainability transformation. Of nine ESG initiatives highlighted by senior executives in a 2020 industry survey, most either involve the supply chain directly, or have significant implications for supply chain setups (Exhibit 5).

The foundation for an ESG-focused transformation is a clear understanding of the organization’s baseline impact. That would include, for example, quantification of the resources consumed and emissions generated by the company’s direct activities (Scopes 1 and 2) and by participants in its wider supply chain (Scope 3). This baseline allows an organization to identify the largest opportunities for improvement, helping it set challenging but realistic goals and timescales that can be communicated to external stakeholders. Capturing those improvements requires rigorous sustainability KPIs and changes from the shop floor to the boardroom, including optimized operating practices, an ESG focus in procurement decisions , and the adoption of more sustainable technologies in existing and planned manufacturing or logistics projects.

These new priorities of resilience, agility, and sustainability can’t be tacked on to existing supply chain setups. Realistically, they will need to be built in from the foundation and considered in every element of supply chain design, organization, and operation. For many companies, that will likely require a change in mindset from the top, with risk, agility, and sustainability KPIs considered alongside traditional ones focused on cost, capital usage, service, and quality. To excel in these six supply chain dimensions, workforce management and digital capabilities will be essential.

Jan Henrich is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office; Jason D. Li is an associate partner in the Toronto office; and Carolina Mazuera is an associate partner in the Miami office, where Fernando Perez is a partner.

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Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022

Global supply chains affect the economy, the environment and social welfare in many ways. Worldwide, economies are experiencing global supply shortages today, affecting key industries such as automotive and consumer electronics as well as vaccine and medical supplies industries. These preoccupy policymakers, who are debating independent national production capacities and restrictions on international trade, but also large companies, which consider reshoring production and abandoning just-in-time procurement. At the same time, the greening of the global economy requires a restructuring of global production to massively decrease its environmental footprint. This creates new supply chain challenges – how to move towards circular economies and how to reorient energy-intensive industries towards renewables and green hydrogen, for example. And let‘s not forget: Consumers are increasingly demanding higher social and environmental standards. Transparency requirements and binding due diligence obligations will in particular affect countries that export raw materials and labour-intensive goods produced under problematic environmental and social conditions.

All of this calls for policies that shape global supply chains in accordance with globally agreed social and environmental objectives. Policies along these lines will have to balance the legitimate interests of different countries and they may easily fail to achieve their objectives unless they are firmly grounded in a thorough understanding of the respective structures in supply chains, including the power relations between the actors. Further, the economic, social and environmental effects of alternative policy options need to be well understood. Science can make an important contribution here, especially if it maintains a constant dialogue with politics and society.

This is why the international “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” was initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It currently comprises about 100 internationally leading scientists from all over the world and is jointly coordinated by our four institutes. Its tasks are: To conduct and stimulate research that contributes to making supply chains more sustainable; and to collect and synthesize the best international research on this topic and make it accessible to policy makers and other societal actors. In addition to its own research, the network organises academic conferences and discussions with policymakers, organises a blog and produces podcasts. With this report – the first in a new annual series – we present new research highlights, provide a forum to debate controversial supply chain topics and identify policy-relevant research gaps for the network‘s future work. The report is, at the same time, an invitation to participate in the discussions on how investment, production and trade will be reorganized in a global economy that has to respond to geopolitical challenges.

Contributors from our Network

Tilman Altenburg

Tilman Altenburg German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Tilman Altenburg leads the research programme “Transformation of Economic and Social Systems” at German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). He received his doctorate in Economic Geography in 1991. Tilman has done empirical research on economic development in Latin America, Asia and Africa, with a focus on competitiveness, industrial and innovation policy, and value chains. His main theme is how developing countries can design economic policies that enable them to improve their position in the global economy in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Currently, he is coordinating research projects on green industrial policy in developing countries and on structural change in Africa.

Jann Lay

Jann Lay German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)

Jann Lay is Head of the Research Programme “Growth and Development” at the GIGA German Institute for Global and Area Studies, Hamburg (www.giga-hamburg.de). As adjunct professor, he also teaches development economics at the University of Goettingen. His work is on various facets of economic development in the Global South, in particular in Africa, including on (informal) employment and labour market, the impacts of commercial agricultural expansion, environment-development linkages, as well as issues related to energy, climate and development (see www.giga-hamburg.de/de/team/lay).

Günther Maihold

Günther Maihold German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Günther Maihold has been the Deputy Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) since 2004. Coming from a background of Political Science and Sociology, Prof Maihold received his doctorate in 1987 from the University of Regensburg, where he subsequently worked as a Research Fellow. After having spent eight years as project manager in social policy consulting in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, as well as the Department for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, he was appointed Director of the Ibero-American Institute of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin. Günther Maihold was a lecturer at the University / GH Duisburg and at the Latin American Institute of the Free University of Berlin. Since November 2006, he has been an Honorary Professor in Political Science at the Free University of Berlin

Melanie Müller

Melanie Müller German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Melanie Müller is a Senior Associate with a focus on Southern Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP) in Berlin and head of the research project „Approaches for Transnational Governance of Sustainable Commodity Supply Chains”. Melanie Müller has conducted research in various countries of the SADC region as well as in Ghana and Niger and published on the political and socioeconomic developments in Southern Africa, as well as on migration and on resource governance. Before joining SWP in 2017, she worked as a research associate and lecturer at Free University of Berlin and as a consultant for public and private actors with a focus on resource governance. She wrote her PhD about the impact of international conferences on local political actors with a focus on the UNFCCC conference in Durban/South Africa.

Rainer Thiele

Rainer Thiele Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Rainer Thiele is director of the Kiel Africa Initiative and the Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and adjunct professor at Kiel University. His current research focusses on the allocation and effectiveness of foreign aid an on issues related to rural development in Africa such as food security and the impact of large-scale land investments.

Frauke Steglich

Frauke Steglich Kiel Institute for the World Economy

Frauke Steglich is a Researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), Managing Director of the Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet) at IfW, and Research Fellow at the Kiel Centre for Globalization (KCG). Her research interests lie in the field of empirical international economics and development, with a focus on foreign direct investment, global value chains, and corporate social responsibility.

Inga Carry

Inga Carry German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Inga Carry is a Research Assistant in the “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” project at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). Her research focuses primarily on environmental crime, resource conflicts, and security policy. She previously worked as a researcher for the trilateral environmental organization EcoPeace Middle East assessing the impact of climate change on social and political stability in the Middle East. Inga Carry holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Gideon Ndubuisi

Gideon Ndubuisi German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Gideon Ndubuisi is a Research Economist at the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). He has a BSc. in Economics from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (Nigeria), MSc. in Economics and Institutions from Philipps-University Marburg (Germany), and PhD in Economics from Maastricht University (Netherlands). Gideon has worked and consulted for different institutions such as the German Institute for Economic Research (Germany), Institute for World Economy (Germany), European Center for Economic Research (Germany), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Austria), World Bank (USA), UNU-MERIT (Netherland), African Development Bank (Côte d'Ivoire), European Commission (Belgium), and NODAC Consulting (Nigeria). His primary research interests include Global Value Chains and Trade, Institutions, Tax Morale, Environment and Clean Energy Market, and Firm Performance and Structural Transformation.

Markus Krajewski

Markus Krajewski University of Erlangen-Nürnberg

Prof. Dr. Markus Krajewski is University Professor at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and holds the Chair in Public Law and Public International Law. Prof. Krajewski is one of the programme directors of the MA in Human Rights and chairperson of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg (CHREN). He also chairs the Board of Trustees of the German Institute for Human Rights and is Secretary-General of the German Branch of the International Law Association. Prof. Krajewski teaches German constitutional and administrative law, European law, public international law and human rights. His research focusses on international economic law, human rights, European external relations and the law of public services. He wrote four books and authored numerous contributions in scholarly journals and edited volumes including the European Yearbook of International Economic Law (EYIEL). He advises international governmental and non-governmental organisations on European and international economic law and acted as consultant in different development cooperation projects.

Clara Brandi

Clara Brandi German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Clara Brandi is Head of the Research Programme “Transformations of Economic and Social Systems” at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). She holds a PhD from the European University Institute, a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford (MPhil in Politics) and a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Freiburg, where she received the Hayek Award. Clara Brandi works on global governance and sustainable development, with a focus in the interplay between trade and the environment, paying particular attention to developing countries and emerging markets. Her current research includes a focus on voluntary sustainability standards and the drivers and effects of including non-economic issues in international trade agreements. Clara Brandi provides policy-advice at the national and the international level. She teaches at the University of Duisburg-Essen and at the University of Bonn.

Robert B. Koopman

Robert B. Koopman World Trade Organization

Robert B. Koopman serves as the Chief Economist and Director of the Economic Research and Statistics Division at the World Trade Organization. In this post, Bob provides the Secretariat and Member Countries with analysis and information that promotes a deeper understanding of trade and trade policy's role in economic growth and development. Prior to this he oversaw the United States International Trade Commission’s trade policy research and negotiation assistance to the President, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Congress. Bob previously taught international trade, applied international trade, advanced international trade, and trade and economic development in the Economics Department at Georgetown University, in Washington DC. His research interests include measuring the economic effects of trade and trade policy changes, measuring global value chains, and the application and validation of large scale economic simulation models.

Rasmus Lema

Rasmus Lema Aalborg University

Rasmus Lema is an Associate Professor at Aalborg University Business School. He obtained his DPhil degree from the Institute of Development studies at the University of Sussex. His areas of specialization are global value chains, innovation systems and low carbon innovation.

Carlo Pietrobelli

Carlo Pietrobelli Uni Roma Tre

Carlo Pietrobelli is a professor and policy advisor with over 30 years of experience on innovation and industrial development and policy. He is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Roma Tre, Italy, Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT, Maastricht, and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.. He was Lead Economist at the Inter-American Development Bank (November 2009-November 2016), where he was in charge of designing and managing programs to promote competitiveness and innovation in Latin America and the Caribbean. His activities included: cluster and value chain programs, the impact evaluation of such programs, innovation and industrial policies, support to Competitiveness and Innovation Councils, programs for local economic development, productive corridors, programs and institutions to support technology transfer and small and medium-sized enterprises development.

Roberta Rabellotti

Roberta Rabellotti Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Università di Pavia

Roberta Rabellotti is Full Professor of Economics at the Università di Pavia, Italy. She has got a Master of Science in Development Economics at the University of Oxford and a Doctor of Philosophy at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. She specializes in the analysis of the industrial sector in developing countries. Her areas of interest are: industrial policies, small business promotion, international trade policies, industrial districts and clusters, global value chains.

Lindsay Whitfield

Lindsay Whitfield Copenhagen Business School

Lindsay Whitfield is Professor Business and Development at the Department of Management, Society and Communication, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. She holds a B.A. in Politics and a B.A. in Economics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the USA, a M.Phil. in Development Studies and a D.Phil. in Politics from the University of Oxford, UK. The main research area of Lindsay Whitfield is comparative political economy of development, and her regional focus is on Sub-Saharan Africa.

Banga Karishma

Banga Karishma Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex

Karishma Banga is a Research Fellow in Digital Development at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, Brighton. Her research examines new models of digital-led development, changing nature of Global Value Chains and digital trade negotiations, with a focus on development implications for low and middle-income countries. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at the International Economic Development Group, ODI working on international trade in the digital age with a focus on Africa and Asia, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, Graduate Institute of Geneva. She has led and worked on a range of projects with international organisations and stakeholders, including UNECA, Commonwealth Secretariat, UNCTAD, Afreximbank, African Union, WTO, and Pathways for Prosperity, University of Oxford. Karishma holds a PhD in Global Value Chains from the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester and a MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge

Marion Jansen

Marion Jansen OECD

Ms. Marion Jansen is Director of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate (TAD) at the OECD since 14 September 2020. Before joining the OECD, Ms. Jansen was the Director for the Division of Market Development and Chief Economist at the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva having also been their Section Chief for Research and Strategies for Exports (2014-2018). She was responsible for ITC’s flagship publication, the SME Competitiveness Outlook, oversaw ITC’s contributions to G20 processes, led the agency’s export strategy work and oversaw ITC’s work on trade and firm level data. Prior to this, she held different positions in the Economic Research and Statistics Division of the World Trade Organization (2012-2014; 1999-2009). As a counsellor, she provided economic advice to WTO dispute settlement panels, co-managed the WTO Chairs Programme and provided lead contributions to the WTO’s World Trade Report. From 2009 to 2012, Marion Jansen was the Head of the Trade and Employment Programme at the International Labour Organization in Geneva. In this role, she oversaw research, policy advice and technical assistance on trade and employment. She also developed a stream of work on skills for trade and economic diversification. From 1998-1999 Marion Jansen worked in the private sector (Maxwell Stamp PLC, UK). Ms. Jansen has published widely on international trade and global governance, including on regional integration, services liberalization and agricultural trade. She has lectured in multiple academic institutions, including the University of Geneva and the World Trade Institute. Ms Jansen, holds a Doctorate Degree in International Economics from the Pompeu Fabra University (Spain); a Master's Degree in International Economics from the Universität Konstanz (Germany) and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Economics from the Universität Passau (Germany). She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in International and Developmental Economics from the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole (France).

Deborah Winkler

Deborah Winkler World Bank

Deborah Winkler is a Senior Economist in the World Bank Group’s Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Global Practice. Deborah has worked on issues of global value chains, offshoring, export competitiveness, foreign direct investment, and trade in services; their determinants; and their economic and social effects. She is particularly interested in the role that policy can play in mediating these relationships. She is a former Research Associate of the New School for Social Research and received her PhD in economics from the University of Hohenheim in Germany.Most recently, Deborah was a lead author of the World Bank’s report on Women and Trade: The Role of Trade in Promoting Gender Equality (2020) and a core team member of the World Development Report 2020: Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains (2019). 

Larissa Rodrigues

Larissa Rodrigues Instituto Escolhas

Larissa holds a PhD and a master’s degree in Energy by the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and a bachelor’s in International Relations by Faculdades Belas Artes. She acted as the coordinator of Research and Investigations at Greenpeace Brazil, as well as a Climate and Energy campaigner. She has solid experience working with climate, energy, and forests. Her background includes projects with international organizations, universities, and the private sector on energy systems and natural resources regulation and modeling.

Cornelia Staritz

Cornelia Staritz University of Vienna

Cornelia Staritz is Tenure Track Professor in Development Economics at the Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna. She is also member of the Advisory Board of the Austrian Foundation for Development Research (ÖFSE) and Research Associate at the Policy Research on International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM) at the Department of Economics at the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD in Economics from the New School for Social Research and a Doctorate in Economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Her research focuses on development economics and policy, international trade and trade policy, global production networks and value chains, and commodity-based development.

Gale Raj-Reichert

Gale Raj-Reichert Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

Gale Raj-Reichert is Research Fellow at Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) and the Principal Investigator of the DFG funded project ‘Labour governance in global production networks: Assessing labour standards in a new generation of public procurement legislation and trade agreements linked to market access into the European Union’ (LG-GPN). The project, which is in cooperation with researchers at the University of Vienna and the Technical University of Vienna, assesses in what ways socially responsible public procurement and labour standards in trade agreements in the EU improve labour governance in the electronics and clothing industries in Vietnam. Gale is currently on secondment from Queen Mary University of London School of Geography where she is a Lecturer in Economic Geography.

Stefano Ponte

Stefano Ponte Copenhagen Business School

Stefano Ponte is a Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the Centre for Business and Development Studies at Copenhagen Business School. His research focuses on governance dynamics, and economic and environmental upgrading trajectories in global value chains — especially in developing countries and in Africa. He is particularly interested in how sustainability standards, labels and certifications shape agro-food value chains, and in how different forms of partnerships affect sustainability outcomes.

Janina Grabs

Janina Grabs ESADE Business School and Environmental Policy Lab, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich

Janina Grabs is an Assistant Professor of Business and Society at the Department of Society, Politics and Sustainability at ESADE Business School, Barcelona. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Münster, Germany, and previously was a post-doctoral researcher at ETH Zurich and visiting researcher at Yale University. Her work focuses on the private governance of sustainability in global value chains, with a special focus on tropical agricultural commodities such as coffee and palm oil. Her work on the effectiveness of private sustainability governance in the coffee sector has been widely recognized, inter alia with ESG’s Oran R. Young Prize, APSA’s Virginia M. Walsh Dissertation Award, and ECPR’s Giandomenico Majone Prize, and is published in the book “Selling Sustainability Short? The Private Governance of Labor and the Environment in the Coffee Sector” (2020, Cambridge University Press), which received the AoM 2021 ONE Book Award. She has further published in leading peer-reviewed journals including Regulation & Governance, Business Strategy and the Environment, New Political Economy, the Journal of Economic Geography, Ecological Economics, and the Journal of Environmental Management. Janina is also a research fellow of the Earth System Governance project, is the Earth System Governance Journal’s Book Review Editor, serves on the Outreach Committee of the International Studies Association’s Environmental Studies Section, is a founding member of the ECPR Standing Group on Regulatory Governance’s Early Career Network, and sits on the Standing Group on Regulatory Governance’s Steering Committee.

Federico Cammelli

Federico Cammelli Environmental Policy Lab, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich

Federico Cammelli is a postdoctoral researcher at the Environmental Policy Lab of ETH Zurich. He received his PhD in Economics from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). His research focuses on designing and assessing public and private policies to mitigate commodity driven deforestation and forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Rachael D. Garrett

Rachael D. Garrett Environmental Policy Lab, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences, ETH Zürich

Rachael Garrett is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at ETH Zürich (Switzerland). Dr. Garrett's research examines interactions between land use, ecosystem services, and economic development at multiple spatial and temporal scales to better understand the drivers and impacts of land change and the effectiveness of existing conservation policies and practices. She is particularly interested in how commodity supply chains interact with environmental institutions to shape land use processes, resource distribution, and trade. Her research has largely focused on land change processes in agriculture-forest frontiers and sustainable intensification of pastures in the tropics. More recently she is leading a pan-tropical analysis of the effectiveness and equity of forest-focused supply chain policies with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation and an ERC Starting Grant. This work involves coordinated research in Brazil, Ghana, Indonesia, and Ivory Coast on beef cattle, cocoa, oil palm, and soybean supply chains. Dr. Garrett received her doctorate at Stanford University and did her post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University. Prior to working at ETH Zürich she was an Assistant Professor at Boston University.

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  • Frontiers in Future Transportation
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Issues of Global Supply Chain Resilience

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COVID-19 and the Ukraine-Russia war-induced logistics and transportation disruptions have caused substantial supply chain disruptions. This disrupted commercial activities worldwide due to the interdependence of logistics and transportation and supply chain networks. For instance, COVID-19-induced logistics and transportation disruptions have caused 4,200 supply chain disruptions during the first nine months of 2020. The prospects of a short-term rebound from COVID-19 effects have been dashed by Ukraine- Russia war due to significant implications on logistical and transportation delays and supply chain disruptions caused by sanctions on Russia and ports closure in Ukraine. The supply chain pressure index slowed significantly between December 2021 and March 2022 and estimate for April 2022 shows further deterioration due to new stresses on international logistics and transportation networks. In given scenarios of delays, rerouting, high transport costs, and decreased consumer demand, logistics and transportation networks should embrace novel technologies to sustain. Many firms have implemented various transportation and supply chain mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of COVID-19-induced logistics and transportation and supply chain disruptions, but very few firms have focused on recovery from logistics and transportation disruptions as well as supply chain disruptions. The impact of the Ukraine-Russia war on logistics and transportation disruptions and supply chain disruptions has not been assessed adequately. There is a missing link between the current pool of knowledge on the role of the mitigation strategies implemented to overcome large-scale unprecedented logistics and transportation disruptions and their impact on supply chain performance, which reflects a gap between understanding mitigation and recovery strategies in theory and practice. Thus, there is a need for more holistic and integrated research on the logistics, transportation, and supply chain disruptions focusing on the recovery of logistics and transportation disruptions and their impact on supply chain performance and how to address these disruptions in the short term and long term for sustainability and resiliency of firms. The analysis of COVID-19 and the war-induced logistics and transportation disruptions and supply chain disruptions is imperative to address these disruptions and recover using novel and advanced strategies. Therefore, original and unpublished research papers using empirical (both quantitative and qualitative) methodologies, mixed-method techniques, and primary and /or secondary data and focusing on practical, managerial and social implications are solicited. The suggestive research themes and sub-themes (under COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine-Russia war) may include but not limited to: • Supply chain disruptions • Logistics and transportation disruptions • Advanced logistics and transport mitigation strategies • Novel supply chain mitigation strategies • Disruptive technologies and influence on freight visibility • Transport management performance • Challenges faced by firms in supply chain recovery • Company responses to mitigate logistics and transportation disruptions and supply chain disruptions • Intelligent transportation system and digital supply network • Role of supply chain channel members in supply chain recovery • Logistics and transportation network design modeling from resilience perspectives • Novel short-term or long-term mitigation strategies • Role of technologically advanced logistics and transportation systems in building future resilience • Green Logistics / Sustainable logistics • Reverse logistics - Circular economy • Logistics 4.0 ( Blockchain, Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, AI&ML, IoT, 3D printing, Drone delivery, Elastic Logistics, Last-mile delivery) • Supply Chain Risk Management • Building resilient Supply Chains • Role of Analytics in Transportation • Customer service • Third-party and fourth part logistics services • Modelling in transportation networks • Warehouse automation About the Topic Coordinator -- Name of Topic Coordinator: Tapas Sudan Affiliation: School of Business, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, India His current research interests are Supply Chain Disruptions, Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Transportation Management.

Keywords : Supply Chain Disruptions, Logistics and Transportation Disruptions, COVID-19, Mitigation Strategies, Impact, Supply Chain Recovery, Advanced Logistics System, Ukraine-Russia War, Logistics, Supply Chain resilience

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Economic Brief

What makes supply chains more resilient to economic shocks.

The recent supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 lockdowns highlighted the importance of understanding supply chain resilience, which is the extent to which supply chains can resist, adapt to and recover from a sudden economic shock. We analyze the various COVID-19 lockdowns across India to understand which supply chains were more resilient to the lockdown disruptions. Firms that bought more complex products and that transacted with fewer and more important suppliers proved to be more resilient by maintaining buyer-supplier relationships through the lockdowns and exhibiting smaller declines in input value purchases.

Firms tend to specialize in producing different goods and trade them both within and across borders, which improves efficiency in production. However, dependencies on acquiring key inputs can also propagate and amplify economic disruptions. Understanding the consequences of supply chain linkages between firms gained new attention in the past few years, following disruptions like COVID-19 lockdowns, which created supply shortages worldwide and contributed to recent inflationary pressures.

A recent working paper by three of the authors of this article — " Supply Chain Resilience: Evidence from Indian Firms " by Gaurav Khanna, Nicolas Morales and Nitya Pandalai-Nayar — focuses on understanding what features make supply chains more resilient to sudden economic shocks. Supply chain resilience is broadly defined as the ability of a supply chain to resist, adapt to, and recover from a negative economic disruption. Identifying the features associated with higher resilience is key when thinking about which supply chains are more at risk to future economic shocks.

The Case of India: Using COVID-19 Lockdowns to Measure Supply Chain Disruption

To tackle this issue, two main components are needed:

  • Detailed information on the transactions between firms to evaluate how the relationships between buyers and suppliers change over time
  • A large economic shock that disrupts supply chains to varying degrees to compare how supply chains with different characteristics respond to such shock

We focus on India and consider COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020 across districts as our large supply chain disruption. Throughout the paper, we use the term "supply chain" to refer to the relationship between firms and their suppliers.

We obtain data on the universe of firm-to-firm transactions within a large Indian state. 1 Our data include all transactions between January 2018 and December 2020 between Indian firms, as long as either the buying or selling firm (or both) are located in the state. 2 These unique data allow us to construct the full network of buyers and suppliers, compute the value of each transaction and construct our measures of supply chain resilience.

In March 2020, India announced sudden and strict nationwide COVID-19 lockdown policies. India's COVID-19 cases at the time were low, so the lockdowns were put in place mainly to prevent disease spread. The lockdowns were implemented at the district level and classified each district as red, orange or green based on COVID-19 incidence, as shown in Figure 1. Red-zone districts experienced the strictest lockdowns, as public transit, spas, barbers and malls were required to shut down, and large auto and pharmaceutical distributors in these districts reduced or temporarily stopped operations. Green-zone districts, on the other hand, saw significantly fewer and less stringent restrictions.

A colored map showing the intensity of lockdowns across states in India

These differing lockdown intensities allow us to compare firms within the same industry and location, where some firms had suppliers in high lockdown areas while other firms had suppliers in mild lockdown areas. This comparison allows us to analyze the extent to which the lockdown shock created disruptions between firms and their suppliers.

We construct a measure of firm exposure to the lockdown policies based on supplier location. To do so, we use our data to identify suppliers' locations prior to the lockdowns. We then assign a score to each supplier depending on the lockdown policy imposed in their district: A supplier in a red district receives a score of three, while a supplier in a green district receives a score of one.

Finally, we aggregate suppliers for each firm to compute the supplier exposure to lockdowns. Firms that purchased goods from suppliers located in red areas will have higher supplier exposure risk than firms that purchased goods from suppliers located in green areas.

We measure supply chain resilience in three ways. First, we look at how firms decrease the value of their input purchases following the lockdowns. Input value can be thought of as a proxy for firm-level production. Second, we compute the separation rates of firms from their suppliers and evaluate how likely buyer-supplier relationships survive the shock. Finally, we look at how easily firms can switch suppliers if those relationships get broken. To do so, we calculate the "net separation rate," where we subtract the supplier entry rate from the supplier separation rate. This measure captures how many net suppliers firms gain or lose after the shock.

Lockdown Impact on Supply Chain Resilience

Figures 2a and 2b plot the difference in resilience outcomes (separations, net separations and input values) between firms with average supplier exposure to lockdowns and firms with supplier exposure one standard deviation greater than average. Intuitively, they measure the differential outcomes between firms with suppliers in high lockdown areas and similar firms with suppliers in average lockdown areas.

A line graph that displays resilience measures on series of interactions between time-periods and firm-level supplier lockdown exposure

In Figure 2a, we plot the percentage point (pp) difference in separation rates and net separation rates between high-exposed and low-exposed firms. Focusing on separations, we see that from March to May in 2020, firms with high supplier exposure to lockdowns experienced a 4.1 pp higher separation rate than firms with average supplier exposure. The propensity to break links with suppliers is persistent throughout 2020. Similarly, for net separations, highly exposed firms experienced a 6.5 pp higher net separation rate.

In Figure 2b, we shift our attention to inputs. Firms with high supplier exposure to lockdowns experienced a 30 percent decline in the value of inputs purchased during the same period relative to firms with average supplier exposure. The decline in inputs is also quite persistent throughout 2020, where firms that were highly exposed to lockdowns through their suppliers never fully recover.

These figures corroborate that the shock we study — a firm's suppliers being subject to harsh lockdown policies — indeed affected the resilience of the buyer-supplier relationship by decreasing the total value of inputs purchased by highly exposed firms, making buyer-supplier relationships more likely to break and making it harder for firms to find new suppliers.

What Features Are Associated With More Resilient Supply Chains?

We proceed to examine characteristics associated with resilience. This is important because identifying which supply chains are more at risk is needed to create contingency policies and to lighten or prevent negative impacts from shocks. While there are many dimensions for comparing supply chains and evaluating their differences in resilience, we focus on five main indicators:

Product Complexity

How complex are the products a firm purchases? We define firms to have high-complexity supply chains if they buy products that require many different inputs to be produced.

Product Concentration

Are firms' purchases concentrated in many or few distinct products? Firms are considered to have high product concentration if most of their input purchases go into a single product. A higher number means more concentration, while a smaller number implies a diversified demand across many distinct products.

Supplier Concentration

Are firms dependent on a small number of suppliers? We measure how concentrated firm input purchases are, with a higher number implying higher dependence on a single supplier.

Supplier Importance

How important are firms' suppliers? We measure the average supplier importance through the supplier outdegree, which measures how big suppliers are, how many customers they have and how important suppliers are for their customers.

Supplier Availability

How available are the products firms generally purchase? For each product, we look at how many suppliers are in the market. A high value of this measure implies that firms tend to buy products that have many available suppliers in the market.

Evaluating Supply Chain Resilience Characteristics

In Figures 3a and 3b, we present the change in input values in response to the lockdown shock for firms with high-exposed suppliers relative to average-exposed suppliers, as well as show results for separations and net separations, which are consistent. We present the results for different groups of firms with high levels of each of the five characteristics mentioned above. 3

A bar graph that displays the impact of supplier lockdowns for firms with different supply chain characteristics

In the top row of each figure, we present the baseline results for all firms. Firms one standard deviation above the mean in terms of supplier-lockdown risk had 18.5 percent lower input purchases than firms with average supplier-lockdown risk in the period between March 2020 and August 2020.

In the second line of each figure, we look at firms with the highest levels of input complexity, where we see that the impact of the lockdowns was much milder. These firms decreased input values by only 0.9 percent relative to firms with average supplier exposure. Also, firms with high product concentration had a 19.4 percent input value decline, higher than the average. This means that firms with more complex supply chains and low product concentration or with high-complexity inputs were more resilient to the shock.

One possible interpretation is that firms that depend on high-complexity, hard-to-find inputs invest in fostering relationships with their suppliers and build contingency plans for shocks. When the lockdowns were imposed, these firms benefited from the built-in resilience, maintained the relationships with their suppliers and minimized input declines.

Firms with high levels of supplier concentration had lower input losses than the average, exhibiting an input drop of 14.7 percent (compared to 18.5 percent for all firms). This indicates that firms dependent on a single supplier were more likely to maintain the relationship with that supplier after the shock, making their supply chains more resilient. Firms with suppliers that were more important —because they were bigger, had more customers and are more vital for their customers — had minimal input losses due to the lockdowns, only showing a 1.2 percent input drop. More important suppliers are more resilient themselves, making the supply chain more likely to withstand the shock and minimize production decreases.

Finally, we examine the differences for firms that buy widely available products. We find that such firms experience larger input purchase drops due to the lockdowns, indicating that their supply chains were less resilient to the shock. This suggests that firms that tend to buy products for which there are many suppliers have less incentive to invest in strong relationships with their buyers, which makes them less resilient to sudden shocks.

How Did Supply Chains Readjust After the Shock?

We finish our analysis by looking at how supply chains reformed after the lockdown shock. We find that firms that were highly exposed to lockdowns from their suppliers concentrate their purchases in larger and better-connected suppliers. Firms that used to buy inputs from faraway suppliers begin to buy from closer suppliers, and they increase the share of purchases from suppliers in their same state. Overall, we find that firms seem to adjust their supplier composition to mitigate risks and increase their resilience.

In sum, we investigate the features associated with more resilient supply chains. We look at the COVID-19 lockdowns in India as a large shock that disrupted supply chains to varying degrees. Firms with more complex supply chains proved to be more resilient to the shock by having lower input decreases and maintaining relationships with their suppliers. Firms that transacted with fewer and more important suppliers also fared better, as the buyer-supplier relationships were less likely to break following the lockdowns.

On the other hand, firms that bought products with many available suppliers in the market experienced more separations and larger input decreases, as they likely invested less in maintaining relationships with their suppliers prior to the shock. This evidence from Indian firms provides insights into important policy questions regarding firms' preparation for and mitigation of future supply chain shocks.

Claire Conzelmann is a research associate and Nicolas Morales is an economist in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Gaurav Khanna is an assistant professor of economics at the University of California-San Diego. Nitya Pandalai-Nayar is an assistant professor at the University of Texas-Austin.

For confidentiality reasons, we cannot name the Indian state we are working with, but the state has a fairly diversified production structure, roughly 50 percent urbanization rates and high levels of population density.

The data are generated by compiling records of e-way bills, as firms need to issue one of these bills and pay a value-added tax when they transport goods to another firm. These data consist mostly of manufacturing goods and cover the universe of transactions of transported goods valued over $700.

We define a firm to have a "high value" of the characteristic whenever it is above the 75th percentile of the distribution in terms of that characteristic.

To cite this Economic Brief, please use the following format: Conzelmann, Claire; Khanna, Gaurav; Morales, Nicolas; and Pandalai-Nayar, Nitya. (November 2022) "What Makes Supply Chains More Resilient to Economic Shocks?" Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Economic Brief , No. 22-46.

This article may be photocopied or reprinted in its entirety. Please credit the authors, source, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and include the italicized statement below.

V iews expressed in this article are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond or the Federal Reserve System.

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supply chain research topics 2022

They’re more vast, dense, and dynamic than you might think, according to an analysis of 40,000 global firms.

Supply chain disruptions in the last decade have generated lots of recommendations for companies to map their supply chains, identify sources of the most costly risks, and then take steps to mitigate them. But a study of industries’ supply chains for semiconductors reveals that doing so is enormously challenging. The study found that these networks are vast, dense, and dynamic.

The semiconductor chip shortage that hit the automotive industry in late 2020 highlighted two lessons in supply chain management.

  • Vishal Gaur is the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean and a professor of operations, technology, and information management at the Johnson School at Cornell University.
  • Nikolay Osadchiy is an associate professor of information systems & operations management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. He also is a senior editor at Production and Operations Management .
  • Maximiliano Udenio is an associate professor at the Research Centre for Operations Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business of the KU Leuven in Belgium.

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The big challenges for supply chains in 2022

supply chain research topics 2022

Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Heriot-Watt University

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Edward Sweeney does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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In the run-up to Christmas, there was considerable anxiety about shortages of festive food and gifts. Trade friction was already at the core of the Brexit debate, and supply chain issues have been made much worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, a computer chip shortage had a knock-on effect across many industries. Concerns have also been raised about everything from lithium supply for electric vehicle batteries to restaurant food supplies to even coffee shortages .

Never has the issue of supply chain management been so prominent. The question now is what challenges supply chains face in the year ahead. So what can we expect?

Complex, fragmented, under pressure

Products reach consumers through a chain of companies involved, which typically includes manufacturers, logistics firms – who provide storage, distribution and transport – and retailers. Not surprisingly, the whole system is highly complex.

There’s a whole philosophy of contemporary supply chain management (SCM) concerned with making supply chains much more integrated than they used to be. Done well, it can significantly improve the overall performance of companies, as well as benefiting the economy and society. Yet this long-term effort to make the whole system more efficient has been set back by a whole host of challenges in global supply chains.

Three big issues became particularly apparent in 2021. First, and probably the most obvious to many of us, was the unprecedented pressures on global supply chains created by the COVID pandemic and the subsequent series of lockdowns and restrictions which varied in their timing and severity from country to country.

This has resulted in significant geographical shifts in supply and demand, which in turn has created problems for finely tuned global supply chains. Trends that were apparent pre-pandemic, such as increases in online shopping and driver and other skill shortages , are now causing real problems.

Second, the economic and business environment became more challenging. For example, in the UK and the rest of Europe, supply chain pressures were caused by Brexit as a result of increases in red tape and cross-border checks. More widely, firms continue to grapple with a range of international business challenges ranging from fluctuating exchange rates to the building of global management teams.

This all matters because business has become increasingly international – often global – in recent years. This is thanks to the reduction of traditional barriers to the cross-border movement of products, services, capital, people and information. The impact of this change on logistics and SCM is the subject of my book Global Logistics: New Directions in Supply Chain Management.

Third, the environmental impact of logistics and supply chain activities is beginning to be more widely understood. If countries around the world are to meet their emissions targets and commitments, it is key that they develop more sustainable supply chain practices. Glasgow’s COP26 in November had a strong focus on transport including freight and logistics. Business as usual is simply no longer an option if a sustainable future is to be achieved.

But uncertainty is a characteristic of the international business landscape in which supply chains operate. As a result, major companies have become strongly focused on supply chain risk management. This means identifying where risks of any kind exist in the network, assessing the potential impact of these risks, and putting mitigation strategies into place. A range of formal methodologies and tools have been developed to support this process.

The big question is how all this complexity can be handled, particularly in terms of design, planning and execution. These challenges are new in many respects, so past experience cannot be relied upon to generate solutions.

An illustration of a supply chain from a man wheeling some boxes through various stages of transport right up to a plane.

An unpredicatable world

So what kinds of things are going to affect global supply chains in 2022? As The Economist neatly put it recently , “the era of predictable unpredictability is not going away”.

The arrival of omicron has provided a timely reminder of the unpredictability of the pandemic. The emergence of new variants during 2022 could accentuate some of the current pressures. In this context, China’s continuing zero-COVID strategy with its tight border restrictions could create problems.

Despite some easing in recent months, international shipping costs are likely to remain high in 2022. Closer to home, the arrival of the full post-Brexit customs checks introduced on January 1 has introduced further friction and added costs, with many firms reporting a worrying lack of preparedness .

Above all, freight transportation and supply chain processes will continue to change during 2022 as more environmentally sustainable practices are adopted. These practices affect everything from transport vehicles, such as switching to electric delivery vans, through to changes in the wider supply chain, such as relocating distribution centres to minimise distances travelled.

Industry and academia are collaborating to develop innovative and sustainable practices, as can be seen in the work of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight , for example. The year ahead will be key in the adoption of these practices, each of which requires change in the operational practices of firms. Such change will inevitably create short-term challenges as the new practices become embedded.

Business has to be resilient and capable of adapting to major disruptions so that it can develop long-term strategies and solutions to these complex challenges. In the meantime, shoppers are likely to see higher prices, with companies passing on increased shipping and other logistics costs to customers. We may continue to notice things missing from our supermarket shelves – new year product shortages are already being reported in some countries. So as consumers, we are going to have to keep being a bit more resilient ourselves.

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  • Supply chain management
  • Supply chain crisis

supply chain research topics 2022

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supply chain research topics 2022

The supply chain trends shaking up 2023 The supply chain trends shaking up 2023 The supply chain trends shaking up 2023

When disruption is constant, an organization’s preparation for key supply chain trends can be a significant competitive advantage.

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  • The supply chain trends shaking up 2023

Disruptions to supply chain operations are set to stay in 2023, whether they be existing or new geopolitical conflicts, inflationary pressures and the recessionary environment, climate change weather events, or other issues yet to emerge. They can all impact access to goods and how they flow to their final destination, create port holdups, reduce container and ocean freight availability, and surge prices, among other concerns.

In 2023, amid these disruptions, there will likely be some key supply chain trends to manage. Managing your organization’s response to these can be a critical opportunity in the year ahead. At KPMG, from within our Global Operations Centre of Excellence, we firmly believe that: nations will be skeptical about cross-border trade cooperation ; cyber criminals will ramp up activity ; there will be key material access turmoil ; manufacturing footprints will change shape ; retail and distribution supply chains are morphing rapidly ; supply chain technology investments will accelerate ; and on the ESG front, scope 3 emissions will be scrutinized – notably, by investors and regulators in addition to the environmentally conscious consumer.

To help set yourself up for success in dealing with these supply chain trends in 2023, there are three overarching things you should have in place. These are:

Capability: A mature supply chain planning capability to always be a step ahead and ready to tackle supply chain risks and opportunities

Agility: Making sure your supply chain is responsive and agile to manage the unexpected, and to deal with these threats and disruptions appropriately, efficiently and profitably

End-to-end forward-looking visibility: Having ‘control tower’ visibility on key real-time indicators; being able to maneuver your supply chain beyond your own business borders; and building real-time collaboration with your ecosystem of supply chain partners will likely be critical – all done using digital capabilities. The ultimate goal is to enhance collaboration across the supply chain eco-system.

With these three factors in place, you should be set up to turn the challenges of 2023 into a competitive advantage.

Here are the supply chain trends to watch for and what to do about them:


Nations skeptical about cooperation

Geopolitical tensions have seen nations turn inward and become skeptical about cooperation and interdependence. When it comes to the supply chain, this caution is fair, as if tensions escalate, essential materials may be inaccessible, or major trade routes could be shut down. Therefore, governments and industry leaders are exploring domestic self-sufficiency in material supply and manufacturing. Short of this, they are looking to build ‘friend shoring’ relationships – trade links with like-minded and most likely geographically close countries (‘nearshoring’) where the supply of goods will likely be more secure.

More than 6 out of 10 global organizations expect that geopolitical instability may have a detrimental impact on their supply chains in the next 3 years. 1

To protect against geopolitical tensions, some critical steps to initiate during 2023 include:

Model scenarios to understand the impact geopolitical tensions will have on your supply chain.

Consider how you can leverage friendshoring or nearshoring to create a more secure supply network.

Be clear on what will happen if you can’t access a key material or component. Will you need to reformulate a product? What will this mean in terms of regulatory and/or customer approval and are there cost impacts to sourcing from new suppliers or markets?

Recognize the impact that friendshoring or nearshoring will have on your lead times and speed to market. Can you become more responsive, agile, and reduce your working capital?

Almost half of global organizations consider cyber security as an important operational challenge for their supply chains through the next 3 years 1

Cyber criminals ramping up

In 2023, cyber criminals will likely be even more sophisticated when it comes to infiltrating supply chains to damage or steal from businesses. The supply chain can offer vulnerabilities that provide external parties with a pathway to get into your systems, particularly via your supplier network. Criminals could also hack in through basic warehouse equipment such as a barcode reader or via Internet of Things (IoT) devices applied within your manufacturing and other operational sites. Cyber risk will likely be compounded if you rethink your supplier networks and make changes to friendshore/nearshore, or invest in new technologies.

Some critical actions to initiate during 2023 to mitigate cyber risk include:

Recognize that your cybersecurity strategies often stop at the borders of your own enterprise. Therefore, identify the strategies that you and your partners must enact to mitigate cyber risk in your supply chain. How can you help ensure that those strategies are robust and provide sufficient risk governance across your third-party contracts?

Ensure new third parties brought into your supply chain ecosystem undergo thorough cyber risk assessments.

Consider funding and implementing artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) as part of the standard onboarding process of new suppliers to identify threats such as spam and phishing emails.

Human error is a key cyber security risk. A recent report from the World Economic Forum highlighted that close to 95% of cyber-attacks that have been successful are linked to a human element/error. Define strategies to leverage technology and automation that help mitigate this exposure.

Conduct a cyber assessment for all of the functions/activities within the supply chain using IoT devices (storing data, managing inventory, tracking goods), especially those with direct access to sensitive information and/or provide a gateway to wider system access.

Material access in turmoil

In the year ahead, a second wave of unplanned supply chain risks will likely be realized. Organizations may experience limited access to critical inputs for manufacturing, or even spare parts and critical maintenance items. In an aligned challenge, key commodity prices and availability may fluctuate – whether that be fuel/diesel, construction items like timber, steel and resin, or plastic for packaging. Building resilient supply chains to combat future disruptions and adapt to new changes quickly will be key to help navigate these risks.

71% of global companies highlight raw material costs as their number one supply chain threat for 2023.

During 2023, other key steps to protect against material access issues include:

Protect your core offer and mitigate risk by removing critical time spent managing low-demand items.

Resolve redundancy in your supply chain by shifting from Just-In-Time to Just-In-Case, holding extra inventory for critical items, maintaining low-capacity utilization, and engaging with multiple suppliers.

Don’t just say you’ll find alternative suppliers in a disruption, but have clear plans for who those suppliers are, and what impact any changes will have on your costs and operations.

Adopt real-time data analytics to enhance accuracy of predictions/forecasts of demand volatility and stream these insights into your Sales & Operations execution framework.

Leverage technologies such as Blockchain for greater product transparency, to prevent counterfeit products, to minimize discrepancies, and automate workflow through smart contracts.

Two thirds of global business leaders emphasized the need to increase visibility into their supply chains in order to maintain operational stability going forward 1 , so prioritize your supply chain resilience with true end-to-end visibility and transparency across the supply modes of transport, nodes and links.

More than 7 out of 10 companies that announced a shift of their manufacturing locations between 2018-2023 moved operations into Asia. 2

Manufacturing footprint changing shape

While accessing critical materials in 2023 may be challenging, so too will be manufacturing for many of the same reasons including the rapid rise in energy costs and price surge of key inputs. Therefore, global corporations with manufacturing operations will be re-evaluating their manufacturing footprint. Friendshoring and nearshoring will again be considered, however, there may be deeper thinking around whether manufacturing needs to be – and can be – done entirely onshore. This shift can’t happen overnight, but wheels will be put in motion.

Another factor in 2023 will likely be the increased impact of online retail on product manufacturing. Often, online platforms want to differentiate their offer, whether that be the size of products, minor ingredient changes, or even the style of packaging. This means organizations will seek out manufacturers that can provide more customization. Similarly, in life sciences, precision medicine will become more accepted by regulators, healthcare practitioners and patients. Therefore, rather than manufacturing millions of units for each vaccine/drug and moving these products across the globe, corporations may seek to manufacturer specific products per patient. This manufacturing change will significantly transform the future manufacturing footprint and how supply chains operate. As a result, a key question is whether organizations should establish new supply chains or simply divert production to other markets with existing capacity.

Other key considerations during 2023 include:

Consider the future of your manufacturing site location and how any shifts may help the competitiveness of your products.

How can you source from multiple suppliers/manufacturers in different countries to help you protect your operations from uncertainties in key manufacturing markets?

Explore opportunities to contract global organizations to manufacture on your behalf, or if manufacturing should be part of your core DNA and done onshore within the next few years.

Understand if mass manufacturing may be right for your business in future, or do you need to look at customized manufacturing approaches?

Retail and distribution supply chains are morphing

While getting goods into the hands of consumers in 2023 might appear easier than in earlier COVID-19 times, it will likely not be simple nor inexpensive. There may be more consumption mechanisms and channels than ever, and costs are not showing any signs of letting up, partially due to the close link to the complex manufacturing challenge, but also to the difficulty in getting goods into the hands of a more-demanding-than-ever consumer. The prevalence of last mile delivery challenges, coupled with reliance on suppliers that are often experiencing difficulties also, means global and local retailers may need to review their inventory distribution network and create a seamless experience around a unified commerce approach.

67% of organizations consider meeting customer expectations for speed of delivery as a critical force impacting the structure and flow of their supply chains over the next 12-18 months.

Key steps to better manage retail and distribution complexities in 2023 include:

Consider the future of your distribution and micro-fulfillment center locations.

Enhance and advance your e-commerce and omni-channels into true unified commerce process and technology.

Review sourcing and supplier strategies to reduce risks.

Implement control tower visibility in a predictive environment, leveraging AI and ML.

6 in 10 plan to invest in digital technology to bolster their supply chain processes, data synthesis and analysis capabilities.

Technology investment accelerating

Over the past year, investing in a cloud-based digital transformation strategy was a key trend, and in 2023 this trend is likely to accelerate as organizations seize technology as a strategy to mitigate their growing concerns around inflationary pressures and economic stagnation. While technology transformation often focused on the back office and better customer engagement, supply chain and operational capabilities will be front and center in 2023. Importantly, there will likely be greater investment to uplift supply chain planning maturity, automation of warehouse and operational tasks, as well as in gathering better end-to-end supply chain analytics to create enhanced visibility.

Supporting this trend is a move from some major technology suppliers towards holistic supply chain platforms. Rather than offering supply chain capabilities as discrete add-on systems, they are bringing them all together in one platform, aiming to provide a seamless user experience.

Key actions to take in 2023 include:

Prioritize technology investment in supply chain planning capabilities, and end-to-end visibility enabled by real-time analytics, as these can help you to maintain operational stability.

Fast-track your data management policies and capabilities, and upskill your teams to make the most of the technology capability for insights led decision making.

Consider how you can invest in automation to replace redundant manual supply chain activities, drive productivity gains, and protect against margin squeeze and cost increases. There are opportunities to streamline very manual activities such as Global Trade documentation, Free Trade Agreement (FTA) compliance, trade tax calculations, reconciliations and settlements, and reporting.

Scope 3 emissions scrutinized

Supply chain sustainability strategies have long been integral to achieving corporate ESG initiatives. In 2023, regulators and other important stakeholders (such as customers and the finance community) will likely demand a focus on scope 3 emissions control. You may be expected to make informed decisions to reduce these emissions, and ‘greenwashing’ will not pass scrutiny. Adding to the pressure will likely be a shift in investor activity towards organizations that can prove their scope 3 emissions are low. Global banking institutions, private equity and venture capitalists want to see that their portfolio is aligned to sustainable organizations.

53% of organizations plan to increase their focus on sustainable sourcing.

Priority actions for ESG improvement in 2023 include:

Operationalize your ESG strategy by aligning the objectives of each function within your business including Finance, HR, IT, Operations and Commercial. Ensure that there is internal collaboration and alignment with each function accessing and tracking the same ESG data.

Capture real-time operational data along your supply chain for measurement and reporting of ESG matters.

Build end-to-end visibility of the supply chain to see where your goods move, the organizations that are moving them, and their sustainability credentials. With this insight, make active decisions about your partners to reduce your scope 3 total.

Disruption to supply chains is a permanent fixture, and at KPMG we believe these supply chain trends will be integral to getting control of what's ahead in 2023. As we have seen, having sophisticated planning capabilities and agility, enabled by improved end-to-end visibility of your supply chain, will be both key to mitigating risks and areas of vulnerability, and harnessing opportunities otherwise difficult to convert to benefits. By proactively getting ahead of the these trends, you can have the capability to set yourself up for success.


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Related content.

Aerial side view container ship carrying container in import export business logistic and transportation.

From logistics disruption, to workforce and labor.

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Pivot or perish? Supply chains must become customer-centric, demand-driven and automated.

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Making supply chains seamless.

1 Source: KPMG’s global supply chains trends survey of November 2022. 2 Source: Unchained Global Sourcing – charting the sourcing shift in Asia Pacific, December 2022.

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14 Supply Chain Trends for 2022/2023: New Predictions To Watch Out For

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Supply chains are the lifeblood of most, if not all, businesses today. Keeping all supply chain components running as smoothly as possible ensures that your business can provide on-time delivery of products and services, especially with changing consumer demands and supply chain disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from reading up on the latest supply chain statistics , it’s always helpful to stay updated on the latest supply chain trends.

In this article, we’ve gathered the top predictions for supply chains, supply chain management (SCM), and even inventory management for 2021 and beyond. By staying on top of supply chain management trends and issues, you can make sure that your company can readily adapt to these changes.

key supply chain trends

Supply Chain Trends Table of Contents

  • Supply chains are going green
  • Circular supply chains are the future
  • More supply chain integrations
  • Workforce globalization and challenges
  • The Spread of SCaaS and SCM on tap
  • The Effects of faster product lifecycles
  • The Rise of elastic logistics
  • A Standard certification process for SCM
  • Better transparency in the supply chain
  • Blockchain tools to handle information
  • Extensive adoption of IoT
  • Robotic automation of the supply chain
  • Automation through AI, AR, and VR
  • More agile supply chains

SCM encompasses a broad range of activities and requires excellent attention to detail. This is why most enterprise resource planning software are designed with modules and features dedicated to SCM. Through the software, managers can optimize supply chains, keep them running as smoothly as possible, and prevent disruptions that affect customer service.

However, having these software solutions at your disposal is not enough to gain an edge over your competition. With the ongoing pandemic, a large number of SCM professionals reported experiencing disruption that forced them to change their strategies (RetailNext, 2020). These included having to adapt their supply chain for ecommerce, renegotiating contracts, as well as finding alternative sourcing options. As such, keeping tabs on industry trends will allow you to be quick on your feet and make sound business decisions.

Supply Chain Disruption During the Pandemic

Source: RetailNext

Given the importance of supply chains, it’s no surprise that many trends in supply chain management center around the improvement of the supply chain itself, with new business models gaining traction (SupplyChain247, 2018). Supply chain technology trends also heavily feature robotics, IoT, and blockchain, which are all projected to make the supply chain faster and less prone to disruptions (Supply Chain Management Review, 2018).

1. Supply Chains are Going Green

Climate change advocacy groups and consumers’ growing efforts to be more environmentally responsible push the supply chain to become less harmful to the environment. Electricity and transportation hugely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in the US, so green logistics are quickly gaining traction among many companies today.

Green logistics is just one of the many supply chain trends affecting warehousing. Eco-friendly warehouses, for instance, feature advanced energy management systems that use timers and gauges to monitor the usage of electricity, heat, water, and gas all over facilities (Inbound Logistics, 2018). These systems help prevent excessive waste of resources. Electric and solar-powered vehicles are also seeing more use in supply chains; these vehicles help reduce the overall carbon footprint of supply chains.

Similarly, climate-smart supply chain planning is expected to play a more significant role in SCM in the next year and beyond. Environmental changes brought by climate change affect the availability of materials and resources, posing potential disruptions to supply chains. Companies will have to consider these factors and look for other resources if necessary.

Aside from doing their share to preserve the environment, businesses that adopt sustainable efforts also stand to gain more in terms of profit and customer loyalty (Nielsen, 2018). After all, more than 60% of customers don’t mind paying a premium for sustainable products. With green consumerism on the rise, more companies are expected to implement eco-friendly supply chain processes in the coming years.

Source: Statista, 2020

Key takeaways:

  • Electricity and transportation account for the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
  • More companies will adopt green logistics to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Climate-smart supply chain planning will help companies look for more sustainable resources.
  • Companies with eco-friendly business practices stand to gain more profit and customer loyalty.

2. Circular Supply Chains are the Future

Linear supply chains will soon be replaced by circular supply chains, where manufacturers refurbish discarded products for resale (East West, 2020). To deal with the rising costs of raw materials and their volatile availability, many companies are opting to break down their products and turn them back into their raw material form.

Looping the supply chain can help cut down costs, past the initial costs of putting new processes in place. With a circular supply chain, companies can spend less on raw materials and, in turn, enjoy a reduced risk of price volatility. Moreover, a circular supply chain creates less waste, helping companies reduce their overall impact on the environment. 

Stricter government regulations on recycling and waste disposal also push companies to consider adopting the circular supply chain. Businesses with sustainable practices may also stand to gain incentives for their efforts, not only from the government but also from consumers, a majority of whom prefer environmentally friendly products.

supply chain research topics 2022

Source: Supply Chain 24/7

  • Circular supply chains will soon replace traditional linear supply chains.
  • Looping the supply chain can help companies cut down spending on raw materials.
  • Strict government regulations on recycling and waste disposal also influence the adoption of a circular supply chain.

3. More Supply Chain Integrations

The coming years will see even more components being added into the supply chain, as companies look to make partnerships and build integrations with third parties. Partnering up with third-party services can help companies reduce costs while improving customer service.

For instance, more businesses will integrate and start to offer inland services reducing overall freight costs, and streamlining the supply chain (Supply Chain Dive, 2019). Integrations are particularly useful for shippers who often use a combination of sea and land transportation for their products. With integrated services, delivery times become shorter, and customer service improves.

The Amazon Effect also pushes companies to optimize their supply chains as much as possible. As a result, more supply chain managers will be partnering up with third-party logistics providers (3PLs) and 3PL-based technologies. 3PL providers offer inbound and outbound freight management and handle order fulfillment on any channel, and companies can take advantage of these to organize their supply chains.

Similarly, 3PL-based technologies allow supply chain managers to integrate multiple management systems via API and connect them to the cloud. These integrations will enable supply chain managers to overcome the limitations of in-house technology solutions.

Companies will also seek partnerships with other businesses that incorporate digital solutions, which deliver more accurate delivery ETA estimates and cut down administrative work.

Source: Supply Chain 24/7, 2020

  • Large companies will be looking to integrate more transportation components into their supply chains to lower freight costs.
  • Furthermore, companies will partner with 3PLs and integrate 3PL-based technologies to combat the Amazon Effect.
  • 3PL-based technologies can also integrate multiple management systems via API and the cloud.

4. Workforce Globalization and Challenges

Companies can expect major changes in the labor component of the supply chains. For instance, one such change is the globalization of the workforce. A study initially predicted that 80% of manufacturers will have multi-country operations by 2020 (Capgemini, 2020) . However, with the pandemic, this growth may have been affected and perhaps delayed for a few years. 

Factors such as the need for more knowledge workers influence the demand for workforce globalization. Knowledge workers—those capable of handling complex processes like analytics, procurement processing, and provision of services—drive the labor component of supply chains, and the emerging labor workforce in the US doesn’t have the training and expertise to handle these processes.

Employment opportunities in the logistics sector were cut as a result of pandemic-related restrictions. In the US, labor jobs made up 3% of the estimated 22 million jobs losses in 2020 (Protrans, 2020).  More companies are trying to fill the gap by outsourcing these jobs and expanding operations to countries outside the US.  Advanced IT systems, collaboration software , and sophisticated logistics setups make globalization easier for companies. 

Aside from the skills gap, the shortage of supply chain workers also stems from a lack of interest in these jobs. Experts expect warehouse and supply chain managers to offer unique benefits such as mentoring programs and tuition reimbursement to make supply chain jobs more attractive to younger generations . As such, experts predict that there will be 4% growth in the demand for logisticians and logistics managers in the US until 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). 

logistics jobs

  • The expansion of manufacturers into multi-country operations may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The lack of knowledge workers in the US pushes companies to hire workers from outside the country.
  • Moreover, companies will offer unique benefits to encourage younger generations to take supply chain jobs.

5. The Spread of SCaaS and SCM Support on Tap

Many companies today handle their supply chain activities in-house. Still, we may see more businesses adopting ‘Supply Chain as a Service’ or SCaaS business models and outsourcing activities like manufacturing, logistics, and inventory management. Companies’ supply chain management teams will soon evolve to become a smaller group of skilled individuals focused on making strategic decisions to improve the supply chain.

As in-house supply chain teams grow smaller, control towers will become more prevalent (Forbes, 2019). These advanced digital control towers give supply chain managers an end-to-end view of the supply chain. Cloud technology allows supply chain managers to access the data they need wherever they are.

Likewise, technology has innovated support for SCM. Supply chain technologies will soon be available “on tap.” Originally seen in SaaS software , this method allows companies to reduce overhead spending by avoiding fixed costs in infrastructure, upgrades, and maintenance.

Supply Chain Areas with Highest Outsourcing

Source: SupplyChainDigest

  • SCM teams will grow smaller as companies outsource many supply chain activities.
  • Control towers can help supply chain managers oversee the entire supply chain process anywhere and anytime.
  • SCM support will be available on tap, much like SaaS.

6. The Effects of Shorter Product Lifecycles

As product lifecycles and clock speeds become shorter, supply chains must evolve to become faster and more efficient (LinkedIn, 2018). Many companies today use a single supply chain for all products, despite the differences in these products’ life cycles. In the future, companies will have to develop different supply chains to accommodate these varying lifecycles and remain profitable.

The shorter product life cycle requires companies to rethink their supply chains and streamline processes to ensure that they can keep up with the regular demand for new products. This is why it’s alarming that as of 2017, 43% of small businesses still do manual inventory tracking (Wasp Barcode Technologies, 2017).

Luckily, there are plenty of advanced tools such as inventory management that can help SCM teams keep better track of stocks and automate order management. To this end, more companies will also be streamlining their reverse logistics processes to improve the handling of obsolete products.

small businesses track inventory manually

  • Product lifecycles are now shorter than ever, requiring supply chains to adjust.
  • Companies will soon have a distinct supply chain for each product lifecycle.

7. The Rise of Elastic Logistics

I t’s not enough for supply chains to have lean processes; supply chains need to be flexible and responsive to market fluctuations as well. As a result, more businesses are adopting a flexible approach to logistics. Elastic logistics allow the supply chain to easily expand or shrink according to current market demands. Technologies such as artificial intelligence allow supply chains to adjust as needed with minimal disruptions (Material Handling & Logistics, 2019).

Elastic logistics provides flexibility to many variables in the supply chain, including sailing schedules, carrier space, container usage, and route optimization. The adjustability helps companies better handle potential issues such as overstocking and unoptimized space in vessels. As a result, businesses can enjoy greater stability and remain competitive despite market fluctuations.

Transportation/Logistics Challenges Most Critical to Customers

Cost Reduction

Data Management

Transport Optimization

Customer Service/CX

E-Commerce/Omnichannel Enablement

Inventory Management

Vendor Management

Risk Management

Source: Inbound Logistics

  • Elastic logistics can make supply chains more flexible in shipping, manufacturing, and transportation, among other variables.
  • More companies will be adopting elastic logistics as a safeguard against market fluctuations.

Most Popular Inventory Management Software

  • Brightpearl . An innovative omnichannel management tool for ecommerce businesses and retailers looking to manage orders, inventory, and customer data. Find out more about this product in our Brightpearl review .
  • Cin7 . A powerful inventory management and point-of-sale suite built for businesses of all sizes. Our Cin7 review provides comprehensive details about its capability.
  • Hippo CMMS . A user-friendly maintenance management solution designed to help businesses manage, organize, and track maintenance operations. Our Hippo CMMS review offers a detailed product tour of this product.
  • Fishbowl . A robust inventory management software built to help businesses track assets, oversee the production processes, and manage their warehouse. Find out more about this product in our Fishbowl review .
  • Easyship . A cloud-based shipping software built to help ecommerce businesses streamline local and international shipping. Read our Easyship review to find out more about the product.

8. A Standard Certification Process for SCM

With the complexity of SCM, it’s not surprising why many universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in SCM. Professional associations also provide certification programs for aspiring supply chain managers (American Purchasing Society). 

However, none of these programs offer a single set of knowledge for SCM. Instead, they focus on specific activities, such as financial analysis or manufacturing. This will change in the next few years, as technologies such as IoT allow for the development and integration of a cohesive system that defines SCM. Supply chain professions will soon have a standardized certification program like those of CPAs and engineers. 

A standard certification process for SCM will ease the deployment of new systems and services. It will also help fill the current skills gap in the supply chain profession.

  • Advanced technology such as IoT allows for the development of a cohesive knowledge system for SCM.
  • Supply chain professionals will soon have a standardized certification program like CPAs and engineers.

9. Better Transparency and Visibility in the Supply Chain

Rising consumer concerns over the impact of modern business on society create a need for companies to be more transparent about supply chain externalities (Sintec) . Companies have begun providing some transparency when it comes to the sustainability of their supply chains and their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. Still, more visibility is needed on the impact of the supply chain on other aspects of society. The shifting nature of global trade and its corporate requirements may also result in mandatory corporate disclosures for a variety of supply chain practices. 

For instance, companies will soon have to look into providing reports on the impact of their supply chains on jobs created, sourcing practices, as well as types of labor and modes of transportation used. Disclosing information about these aspects of their supply chain can help companies enhance brand image among consumers and prepare for compliance with regulatory requirements if necessary. 

Aside from this, visibility into tier 1 suppliers is critical, especially if those suppliers come from China (Deloitte, 2020). According to a Dun & Bradstreet research, 51,000 companies worldwide have one or more direct tier 1 suppliers in China while five million have tier 2 suppliers in the region (CNBC, 2020). In light of the pandemic-related plant closures and other restrictions in these regions, it is vital to understand tier 1 supplier risk and how this will impact your extended supply network (Deloitte, 2020).

  • Consumers and global trade authorities may soon demand companies to disclose full supply chain practices and externalities.
  • Full visibility of the supply chain can improve a company’s brand image.

10. Blockchain Tools to Handle Information

Supply chain visibility remains a top concern for most companies today, so it’s not surprising that more businesses will be looking to integrate blockchain technology into their supply chains. Blockchain technology can help make the entire supply chain more transparent to minimize disruptions and improve customer service (Blockgeeks). Through blockchain, all components of the supply chain can be integrated into a single platform. 

Carriers, shipping lines, forwarders, and logistics providers can use the same platform to update companies and customers of the product journey. Invoicing and payments can be made from the same system, too. This integration streamlines the entire supply chain and helps supply chain managers to identify issues before they occur. 

Blockchain also provides unparalleled protection for information, as the technology’s decentralization methodology protects data from being edited. All users must agree to updates or edits to the data before they’re implemented. 

  • Blockchain technology can improve supply chain visibility for more efficient management.
  • Blockchain’s decentralization methodology also helps improve data security.
  • With these benefits, more businesses will adopt blockchain technology in their supply chains in the coming years.

11. Extensive Adoption of IoT

Aside from blockchain, more companies are implementing IoT devices to enhance the visibility of their supply chains (Blume Global). For instance, airplanes, trucks, and other modes of transportation can be fitted with sensors, which provide live tracking updates on shipping and delivery. IoT technology in warehouses and retail outlets can also improve visibility in production, inventory management, and predictive maintenance. 

Companies can use all these real-time information to proactively service customer demands, minimize downtime, and increase the supply chain’s overall efficiency. By increasing visibility across components of the supply chain, IoT devices can also help businesses optimize their assets and ROI. Creating a digital supply network aligned with one’s business strategy and with risk management procedures in place will help companies to build resilience to mitigate the impact of disruptive events like the COVID-19 pandemic (Deloitte, 2020).

Many businesses will also leverage the power of IoT by integrating the technology with core business applications such as business intelligence software . These integrations will enable analytics for the information gathered by IoT devices, allowing companies to make data-driven decisions on supply chain strategies.

  • More companies are using IoT devices to increase the transparency of the supply chain.
  • With this increased visibility, companies can optimize their ROI and improve customer service.
  • Furthermore, IoT can be integrated with core business applications for analytics.

12. Robotic Automation of the Supply Chain

Robotics currently play a huge role in transforming supply chains and SCM. During the first half of 2019 alone, North American companies spent $869 million on more than 16, 400 robots (Robotic Industries Association, 2019).

More companies today are using drones and driverless vehicles to streamline logistics operations. Companies and consumers can expect drones to become fully capable of making deliveries of small goods. Self-driving cars are also likely to be more advanced by 2020, with capabilities to make automated traffic decisions.

In warehouses, autonomous mobile robots will see more use in speeding up menial, labor-intensive tasks. Combined with efficient warehouse management software , robots can drastically improve the supply chain’s productivity.

The growing use of robots and robotic processes automation software, however, does not end in the replacement of humans (Quickbooks, 2019). The technology is intended to augment human efforts by speeding up simple, repetitive tasks. By relegating these tasks to machines, human workers can focus on higher-value tasks that have a more direct effect on business growth and customer experience.

  • North American companies spent $869 million on more than 16,400 robots during the first half of 2019.
  • More companies are incorporating drones and self-driving vehicles in their operations.
  • Robots and robotic software can speed up time-consuming, menial tasks to free up workers’ time for higher-value ones.

13. Automation Through AI, AR, and VR

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also play an essential role in making supply chains more efficient (Toward Data Science, 2019). The technology can be used to automate procedures using algorithms based on data from previous processes. Automation makes supply chains more efficient by eliminating human errors. 

AI also can identify patterns in the supply chain, and companies can leverage this technology to predict purchasing demands and manage inventory. This takes the guesswork out of planning and procurement, eliminating the need for planners to do the same calculations over and over. 

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) also pose various possibilities in improving the efficiency of supply chains. For instance, AR devices allow workers to multitask more effectively. Companies can also use these devices to enhance product development efforts by predicting potential product uses in a realistic setting.

  • Ai can make supply chains more efficient by automating procedures.
  • Additionally, companies can use AI to predict purchasing demands.
  • Companies can also use AR and VR technology to enhance worker productivity and support product development.

14. More Agile Supply Chains

Aside from climate events, new tariffs and global trade issues require companies to be more agile in terms of supply chain planning (Logistics Management, 2019). To ensure stability and maintain high service levels, companies must make sure that their supply chains are agile enough to cope with natural disasters and the shifting availability and costs of raw materials. 

Supply chain managers can take advantage of supply chain modeling solutions to predict scenarios and identify potential problems. This way, they can plan the best responses to disruptions. 

  • New tariffs and global trade issues may affect the availability and costs of materials.
  • Supply chain managers can use supply chain modeling to predict potential problems and plan the best response.

Optimize your supply chain for efficiency

The supply chain is changing, and SCM isn’t as simple as it used to be. However, advancements in technology give business owners plenty of ways to optimize their supply chains to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Staying ahead of these supply chain trends can also ensure that supply chain disruptions have minimal effect on your business. It’s never too early to get started on supply chain planning to ensure that your business’ supply chain is flexible enough to handle the effects of factors such as global trade issues, workforce shortages, and other unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’d like to streamline your business’ procurement processes, our guide on the best procurement software can help.


  • Berman, J. (2019). Trade tension and uncertainty from tariffs puts supply chains on alert . Retrieved from Logisitcs Management
  • BLS (2020). Occupational Outlook Handbook . Retrieved from BLS
  • Blume Global (n.d.). How the Internet of Things Is Transforming Supply Chain Management . Retrieved from Blume Global
  • Capgemini (2020). Manufacturing in 2020 . Retrieved from Capgemini
  • Deloitte (2020). COVID-19: Managing supply chain risk and disruption . Retrieved from Deloitte
  • Flovik, V. (2019). Artificial Intelligence in Supply Chain Management . Retrieved from Toward Data Science
  • Hassiotis, M.K. (2020). Building a Circular Supply Chain for a Circular Economy . Retrieved from East West
  • Gattorna, J. (2018). Designing contemporary supply chains for faster clockspeeds to cope with the increasingly volatile operating environment . Retrieved from LinkedIn
  • Mitra, R. (n.d.). Blockchain And Supply Chain: A Dynamic Duo . Retrieved from Blockgeeks
  • Nielsen (2018). Sustainability Sells: Linking Sustainability Claims to Sales . Retrieved from Nielsen
  • Powell, M. (2020). 2020-2021 State of the Logistics Industry . Retrieved from Protrans
  • Quickbooks (2019). Cobotics, eCommerce, and the Revolution . Retrieved from Trade Gecko
  • Rangel, G. (n.d.). Externalities of Supply Chains: Unrestricted or Opportunities to be Taken Advantage of? . Retrieved from Sintec
  • RetailNext (2020). CEO Retailer Pulse #2 . Retrieved from RetailNext
  • Santagate, J. (2018). NextGen Supply Chain: The Robots are Here . Retrieved from Supply Chain Management Review
  • Selko, A. (2019). Automation is Enabling Elastic Logistics . Retrieved from Material Handling & Logistics
  • Smith, E. (2020). Coronavirus could impact 5 million companies worldwide, new research shows . Retrieved from CNBC
  • SupplyChain247 (2018). Circular Supply Chain – The Missing Link . Retrieved from SupplyChain247
  • Wasp Barcode Technologies (2017). State of Small Business Report . Retrieved from Wasp Barcode Technologies

Astrid Eira

By Astrid Eira

Astrid Eira is a resident B2B expert of FinancesOnline, focusing on the SaaS niche. She specializes in accounting and human resource management software, writing honest and straightforward reviews of some of the most popular systems around. Being a small business owner herself, Astrid uses her expertise to help educate business owners and entrepreneurs on how new technology can help them run their operations. She's an avid fan of the outdoors, where you'll find her when she's not crunching numbers or testing out new software.

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Standardized SCM involving any communist country is inviting a free world disaster. SCM is only as efficient and effective as the weakest link. That includes control of natural resources to include storage (materials, energy and food), control of strategic transportation modes and nodes including the interruption of inter-coastal, sea shipping lanes, and air supply routes. Then perhaps the most vulnerable is geopolitical relationships and conflicts. So no matter how efficient technology is the weakest link determines efficiency.

Going green is definitely one of the most emerging trends in the this as well as future. The trend is not just going to be prevalent in US and developed markets but also developing economies. With a proper roadmap laid down by the respective govts., the push is soon going to become a differentiator when selecting 3PLs by many players.

However, with the increase in adaption of automation, IoT and stuff the question of many millions losing their jobs machines remains a big question, especially relating to warehousing. Pick up any warehousing activity, you have an automated solution available replacing the human touch. Solutions are coming out at even a much faster pace than ever. is this poised to become the next big problem in the Supply Chain ?

After the integration of traditional supply chain management and modern technologies, such as AI, big data, robots, and other new technologies, will workers in many links of the supply chain be no longer needed? Will the number of workers in the industry be required after the development of supply chain technology? Have a significant impact?

As sectors of the industry become automated via AI and robotics. Robotics will replace human activities that are repetitive. For example, the process of pickers in a DC was replaced by picker robots that reduced the amount of time a worker took to walk and grab items to bring back to his or her station. This function which was repetitive and time-consuming was replaced. Autonomous vehicles are being designed to replace long-haul truck shipments in some parts of the country. The drivers will be replaced by in my opinion IT programmers, programming the driver-less vehicles. I witness the transformation of workers in the steel industry in Steeltown, PA. The repetitive work of assembly workers at the former Westinghouse Airbrake facility in Wilmerding, PA replaced many low-skilled workers and machinists with robotic equipment. Those workers who were picked to learn programming and machine operations were able to be retained. Those that were not picked were laid off and had to seek new careers. I believe some aspects of this will be applied to solve some of the challenges within the supply chain process

Workers will have to adopt to these new circumstances, new skills will be required, The have to develop robots, they have to program robots, be flexible, be able to work in teams, learn faster and so on... There is also used term Education 4.0 in terms of Logistics 4.0/ Industry 4.0

Outsourcing in manufacturing is changing as global manufacturing is declining as a trend so it’s is more challenging to find good suppliers in the outsourcing business. Almost 30 years ago Singapore has manufacturing site newly located in Tuas but now the site has move to other countries from 2000. Companies has to make good business sense either to relocate or outsourcing but keeping the know how or R and D protected.

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Researchers urge: It's high time for alliances to ensure supply chain security

Understanding supply networks would have a significant impact: improving supply security, promoting and objective monitoring of the green transition, strengthening human rights compliance, and reducing tax evasion. International alliances are needed for such an understanding, as emphasized by a research team led by the Complexity Science Hub in a recent commentary in Science .

Even though many companies only know their immediate trading partners, they depend on countless other supply relations up and down the supply chain. A supply shortage anywhere in this supply network may affect suppliers, suppliers of suppliers, and so on, as well as customers and their customers' customers. "Such supply disruptions caused an estimated loss of 2% of global GDP in 2021 -- approximately $1.9 trillion -- and significantly contributed to the current high inflation," explains CSH researcher Anton Pichler.


"For a long time, it was unthinkable to analyze the global economy at the company level, let alone its complex network of supply interconnections," says Pichler. That is changing now.

For almost a century, only aggregated data could be analyzed, such as the average values of entire industry sectors, for example, the automotive industry. Therefore, predicting how individual company failures will affect the system was simply not possible. What happens to the economy when a specific company stops its production? What if an earthquake paralyzes an entire region?


Thanks to a new generation of data on the company level and a set of new analysis methods, we are entering a new era. Despite the vast amount of data -- there are approximately 300 million companies worldwide, each with an average of 40 domestic suppliers, resulting in up to 13 billion supply connections -- researchers can now map the connections between individual companies.


Currently, value-added tax (VAT) data is the most promising option for reconstructing reliable large-scale supply networks. Several countries like Spain, Hungary, or Belgium use a standardized VAT collection that practically records all domestic business-to-business (b2b) transactions. With these, one can map the entire national trade of a country.


In most countries like Germany, Austria, or France, where VAT is not collected for individual b2b transactions but only accumulated over a specific period, such a mapping is currently not possible. "The standardized b2b collection could reduce administrative overheads for companies and would contribute substantially to tax compliance," says CSH researcher Christian Diem, co-author of the study. Estimates suggest that VAT-related fraudulent activities in the European Union (EU) amount to €130 billion annually. A tax gap that could be massively reduced.


The researchers stress that it is not only tax evasion but also other major challenges of our time depend on the detailed knowledge of supply networks -- ideally on a global scale. "For individual companies, it's nearly impossible to ensure that all trading partners, their suppliers, and their suppliers' suppliers operate environmentally friendly and in compliance with human rights. If this were centrally documented in a gigantic network, it could be more easily ensured," emphasizes Pichler.


The next step is to link trade data from different countries. Currently, the EU records trade in goods between its member states at the company level. If they also included services and linked them with VAT data, this could lead to a comprehensive cross-border company-level network. According to the authors, this would represent almost 20% of the global GDP. The European Commission laid the legal foundation by proposing "VAT in the Digital Age." "Unfortunately, this is far from being realized," says Stefan Thurner, an author of the commentary and President of the Complexity Science Hub, "So far, we do not have a single situation where the supply chain networks of any two countries have been joined and merged. This would be an essential next step."


To create a truly international picture of supply interconnections, hundreds of datasets must be joined, analytical tools developed, and an institutional framework must be created together with secure infrastructure for storing and processing enormous amounts of sensitive data.

"To advance this endeavor, a strong international alliance of various interest groups is required, including national governments, statistical offices, international organizations, central banks, the private sector, and academia," explains Thurner. The first collaboration in science, involving authors in macroeconomics, supply chain research, and statistics, now aims to establish a foundation. The researchers hope to inspire others to join their efforts.


Diem, Pichler, Thurner, and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford have hosted representatives of European ministries, national banks, statistical offices, and researchers at a workshop in Vienna on June 5 and 6, 2023.

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Journal Reference :

  • Anton Pichler, Christian Diem, Alexandra Brintrup, François Lafond, Glenn Magerman, Gert Buiten, Thomas Y. Choi, Vasco M. Carvalho, J. Doyne Farmer, Stefan Thurner. Building an alliance to map global supply networks . Science , 2023; 382 (6668): 270 DOI: 10.1126/science.adi7521

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50 Supply chain and logistic dissertation topics for 2024

The meaning of supply chain management

To look into supply chain management. There is a poor understanding of how the supply chains operate. Therefore, elaborating how these systems can be managed is necessary. The same issues are evident in the search for supply chain thesis topics.  Most interesting supply chain topics are already researched in detail. Therefore, getting a better topic that can be defended at ease is quite challenging. Despite having our well-researched topics online, you can also access supply chain management thesis topics pdf from our website. we have also compiled a list of Ph.D. topics.

1. Impact of Ukraine and Russia war on global logistics and supply chain

This topic tries to find the consequence of the ongoing war in Europe on the supply chain and logistics of the world. This is one of the best logistic dissertation topics for 2022 that is not yet covered in length. Therefore, one can easily develop a  great thesis from it.

2. Africa as a new heart for the global supply chain

This topic tries to explain why Africa is the new emerging market and manufacturing hub for global supply. Africa has untapped potential such as cheap labor that may be utilized to meet global supply needs.

3. Strategies used for cost reduction in supply chain management

 To find out how to minimize expenditure during supply. High costs tend to affect the outcome in the provision cycle.

4. Effects of E-logistics on supply chain

To determine the outcome of E-logistics on any given process during the distribution of goods or services. Failure to recognize better ways of reaching out to those involved in supply. This is one of the most diverse supply chain management research topics of 2022. It still has so much gap to be covered.

5. Mobility solutions for supply chain

To identify faster ways to efficiently move goods or services. The delay faced during supply has a negative impact on all the participants.

6. Importance of digital transformation on supply

To reveal how adapting to new technology impacts business outcomes. Some employees are unwilling to adapt to change and hence resist training.

7. An analysis of supply chain integration

Evaluating whether incorporation of many participants improves results. Getting onboard partners that are unable to meet deadlines.

8. Evaluating supply chain resilience

Assessing how adaptable the systems are to change. Maintaining the new changes can be challenging.

9. Critical analysis of supply chain agility

To discover how fast businesses can adjust to meet the market requirements. Some firms take a long time to remodel to be at par with current trends.

10. Evaluating risks involved in the supply chain

Gauging the dangers that one can encounter in the supply process. Some risks are man-made and hard to deal with.

11. Managing the supply chain globally

To figure out ways of staying afloat in the market in many regions. There is high competition affecting supply and demand globally which some producers fail to meet.

12. Optimizing costs of the supply chain

To work out methods of upgrading product value while retaining a reasonable price. Upgrading products leads to a rise in prices.

13. Supply chain progressive gradation

To determine how to maintain growth. Stagnation affects most production firms at some point.

14. Effects of leadership changeover in supply chain

To know how to keep the chief officers for longer periods. Getting new employers can affect businesses negatively since they need time to master the new roles.

15. How environmental changes affect the supply chain

To deduce whether the climate can affect the supply chain. It is hard to predict the changes that can occur within a locality.

16.  What does big data do to supply chain management?

To evaluate the impact of a variety of high-volume data in supply chain management. There is limited room for improvement. 

17. Impact of the Green project on the supply chain

To investigate how managers can integrate environmentally friendly processes during production. Establishment of firms with no consideration of their impact on the environment.

18. Importance of Total Quality Management

To evaluate the importance of every member of the team maintaining high standards in their various areas. Pulling in the same direction will always be a cutting edge for all organizations.

19. Effects of political factors on supply chain management

To look into issues related to the government that could influence how goods flow from one point to the next. Regional instabilities due to wars interrupt the normal flow of products.

20. How the law affects supply chain management

To prove that some laws can hinder business systems from normal operation. Businesses that do not meet the stipulated codes of conduct are not allowed to run. 

21. Studying how the IoT works in relation to the supply chain

To ascertain if supply chain management depends on IoT for its smooth operation. Some businesses are unable to keep up hence lose customers.

22. Fourth Industrial Revolution and supply chain management

To determine if 4IR is beneficial to supply chain management. Specialization and flexibility are costly as boundaries become more blurry.

23. Establishing the relationship between supply chains and the performance of firms

To show how a firm’s potential affects the movement of its products. Failing firms can hardly have sustainable supply chains.

24. Effects of Covid-19 on supply chain management

To determine how the pandemic affected businesses and their customers. The pandemic caused businesses to shut down while others had to change modes of operation.

25. Profit maximization in supply chain management

Identifying how to get the most out of the goods and services produced. Wrong pricing of products leads to massive losses that are damaging to the firms.

26. What roles do technological changes play in the supply chain?

To expose how technology is shaping the production of both goods and services. Rapid technological changes have had a huge impact on supply chains. 

27. Importance of business relationships in supply chain management

To plan how beneficial partnerships can be established. Poor consumer supplier relations disrupt efficiency.

28. How is manufacturing important in the supply business?

To establish how significant manufacturing is in the supply chain business. Expensive processes are involved due to a lack of proper planning.

29. Customer satisfaction in relation to supply chain management

To find out how best to meet consumer needs. Good or service production without customer participation.

30. Impact of supply chain management on business

To research the extent to which supply chain management affects any given organization. Inefficient managers lead to the collapse of supply chains. 

31. Supply chain efficiency versus effectiveness

To clarify what the two terms mean in the supply chain. Producers are incapable of differentiating the two concepts.

32. Significance of logistics

To know how to handle logistics to maximize output. Lack of qualified logisticians to handle the procedures involved. 

33. Does analytics in supply chain matter?  

To demonstrate the significance of analytics in supply. Insufficient information on analytics.

34. How supply chains can affect a country’s growth and development

To point out ways in which a disruption in supply chains can cripple progress. Inadequate resource allocation.

35. Use of AI in organizations

To make a comparison between artificial intelligence and human intelligence in firms. Laxity in embracing the use of machines in making decisions.

36. The future of supply chain management

To analyze what lies ahead in the product distribution sector. Inability to correctly predict the market trends.

37. Types of supply chains

To name and list the types of supply chains. Lack of clarity on the types of supply chains that exist.

38. How firms adhere to supply chain ethics

To determine how ethics affect organizations. Inadequate knowledge on the functions of these ethics.

39. Importance of supply chain management to the society

To give a detailed explanation of how the people benefit from proper regulations of supply chains. Few people understand what is involved in production and supply.

40. Supply chain visibility

To discuss how visibility can be maintained from the initial to the final stage. Few suppliers have the ability to trace their goods.

41. How an organization can ensure supply chain sustainability

To find out how companies deal with social, economic, and environmental issues in the process of supplying goods or services. There is disregard for issues that arise relating to the products being distributed.

42. How quality control works in supply chain management

To understand the role of quality control in supply chain management. Suppliers ignore matters related to quality controls resulting in poor outcomes.

43. Essential supply chain management tools

To find out which tools are used. Inability to recognize what is required for successful operations.

44. Lack of qualified personnel in the supply chain

To elaborate on the effect of fewer qualified professionals in supply chain management. Supply chain jobs were not considered to be as valuable.

45. Issues faced by supply chain managers

To state challenges that managers go through. Lack of experience in handling customers hence inability to solve the problems that arise.

46. Challenges that operation managers face currently

To discuss what operation managers experience in their line of work. Lack of the right skills to tackle problems.

47. How operation management is crucial in supply chain management

To bring out the significance of operation management.

48. The key elements in logistics

To describe the elements in logistics. Very few people understand the concept and how it works.

49. Logistics versus supply chain management

To bring out the difference between the two processes. Both deal with the end products in an organization.

50. The probability of supply chain managers being replaced by robots

To establish whether machines will take full control of the supply industry. It is difficult to tell really but it is a very interesting area to delve into.

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Topics for a Dissertation on Supply-Chain


January 14 2021 01:08 PM

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Interesting Supply-Chain Dissertation Topics

Have you become tired of looking for a good topic for a dissertation on the supply chain? Do you want some assistance but are confused about where you can turn to? Then you can stop worrying! The dissertation and thesis writers at TopThesis.com are on hand to guide and mentor you through the entire process of writing a dissertation.

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As most graduates and undergraduates will testify, the most irritating thing about a dissertation project is choosing a topic out of the many options there is available. However, once you have made your choice, the main pressure is considerably reduced and the task ahead becomes reasonably easy.

Usually, it takes students several months to complete the research work that goes into a post-graduate or a Ph.D. degree. When choosing a supply-chain topic, it is important to select one that is interesting.

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A free list of possible topics for a dissertation on supply chain, topics concerning the design and control of supply chains.

One of the most important organizational aspects within any manufacturing environment is the supply chain. It is vitally important for an organization that its supply chain is properly planned and designed with tight control. Here are some topic ideas for a dissertation on the supply chain:

  • By comparing a business-to-business (B2B) environment with a business-to-consumer (B2C) environment, explain how the supply chains in these two models are different.
  • Based on an analysis of several manufacturing businesses in the UK, explain how the supply chain is managed.

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Topics Related to the Role of the Supply Chain in the Development of Products

  • Strategies for developing new products – the overall product development mix.
  • Using BMW manufacturing as a case study, explain the strategy the company uses for developing its products.
  • Provide an insight into the product development process.

Topics Related to Dynamic Pricing Structures

  • Describe how dynamic pricing works in the UK services industry?
  • Using the airline industry as a case study, explain the concept of dynamic pricing.

Management of an Organization’s Inventory

  • Discuss the adaptation of just-in-time inventory management in the United Kingdom.
  • What influence does modern technology have when it comes to managing inventories?
  • Do you think it is correct or incorrect to say that the key to managing the supply chain is effective inventory management?

Topics Related to Logistics Management

  • Explain what value chain strategies are used in the UK’s logistics industry.
  • Analyze CSR (corporate social responsibility) as this applies to the logistics industry.
  • Our operations within manufacturing businesses affected by the increase in intermodal international logistics?

Topics Related to Production Scheduling

  • What impact does information technology have on production scheduling methods?
  • Using a case study, analyze the production scheduling methods used by Toyota.
  • Using Mittal Steel as a case study, describe the scheduling methods used in steel production.

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Topics Related to Managing Quality

  • Describe the theoretical and practical implications of implementing total quality management (TQM) in UK businesses.
  • Explain how TQM and client satisfaction are applied in the house-building industry.
  • Explore the concept of quality and its evolution. What are the top fifty (50) issues that apply to the management of operations and production?

Managing Risk in Industrial Environments

  • What impact does information technology have when it comes to managing risk in industrial settings?
  • How is industrial risk managed in rural areas within the United Kingdom?
  • How is risk managed on construction sites in the UK – use a case study for analysis purposes.

Topics Related to Service Design

  • It is neither product nor service – discuss “solution” as the latest trend.
  • How should a business go about designing and implementing an eCommerce website for selling services?
  • Explain how services are designed for an online business.

Topics Related to Strategies for Supply Chain and Manufacturing

  • Explain a typical manufacturing strategy with specific reference to the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
  • Give an insight into manufacturing strategies in general.

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Supply Chain Dissertation Topics

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Supply Chain Dissertation Topics That Are Exciting!

Supply chain management is a thriving area, with many students pursuing it as a major. One of the most difficult aspects of selecting a popular subject is that the majority of supply chain dissertation topics are already chosen. This allows the little possibility for innovation, and teachers frequently reject the themes that are submitted to them.

For Immediate Approval, a List of Supply Chain Dissertation Topics

The majority of students are perplexed when it comes to selecting supply chain dissertation topics. It occurs due to a lack of time and understanding regarding subject generation.

  • One independent variable should be included in your topic.
  • Your topic should have two dependent variables.
  • Your topic should be comprehensive but not too broad.
  • Your topic should be specific

List of Supply Chain Dissertation Topics for Inspiration

The topic of your supply chain dissertation is determined by your supply chain dissertation idea. This is an important phase in developing great dissertation themes since your dissertation ideas serve as the foundation for your creative thinking. Many students struggle to come up with dissertation topics. 

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Supply Chain Dissertation Topics for Your Dissertation

Sometimes a pre-written dissertation subject and ideas are insufficient to match your instructor’s criteria. Many students in the United Kingdom are required to write a dissertation on a distinct topic. This is already a challenge in supply chain dissertation topics because the discipline is overcrowded with new students, and dissertation themes are being submitted daily.

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You are in: Home » Frontline » The year ahead – retail supply chain trends in 2024.

The year ahead – retail supply chain trends in 2024.

By advanced supply chain.

supply chain research topics 2022

Stuart Greenfield, Sales Director at Advanced Supply Chain (ASC), looks ahead to consider the retail supply chain trends we can expect in 2024.

Roll-out of Nominated Carrier Schemes (NCS)

Warehousing remains a key priority for retailers. ASC* research in 2022 and this year found it remained the top ranking area of focus for retailers aiming to reduce costs and protect margins. For this reason, I think we can expect to see a growing number of companies investing in nominated carrier schemes in 2024 to improve warehouse processes and efficiencies.

Many omni-channel retailers already work with a number of different suppliers to spread risk, manage costs, and increase choice. These supplier bases are growing and diversifying, as retailers respond to tough economic conditions and challenging sales environments. Such circumstances can add to the complexities of inbound logistics, with products arriving at warehouses from many different suppliers in varying different formats. It can lead to inconsistencies in processes, packaging, and labelling, which risks errors and proves unnecessarily time-consuming to manage. An NCS can overcome this to consolidate and streamline inbound logistics.

A well-run scheme, backed-up with capable IT systems and transport management systems can effectively automate inbound logistics. Supplier compliance and compliant inbound deliveries can be achieved to drive consistencies and reduce the risk of errors and the amount of time spent correcting mistakes. Automation compliance can also be established and improved, minimising touchpoints to move goods faster through warehouses and eliminating the threat of bottlenecks. Retailers can also benefit from enhanced tracking and transparency to support overall stock inventory management and availability.

supply chain research topics 2022

Minimising mileage

Forward-thinking retailers are already stripping mileage out of supply chains – a trend that’s likely to grow in 2024 because of mounting efforts to better manage costs and carbon emissions. ASC research found that 35% of retailers are aiming to remove miles from their supplier chains to lower operating costs. This is happening against a backdrop of a European-wide shift towards circular economies.

Scope 3 requirements are already encouraging the up and downstream management of carbon footprints throughout supply chains. Similarly, initiatives such as the EU’s circular action plan and the European Green Deal are prompting businesses to embrace sustainable consumption and growth. This year, the European Commission revised its circular economy monitoring framework, which has sharpened the focus on ‘material footprint and resource productivity’.

We’re already working with retailers to strip miles out of their supply chains. However, this doesn’t just involve reshoring or near-shoring. In many instances, it involves in-depth analysis of data to enhance cube optimisation, so that more goods can be shipped per load to reduce overall transportation movements and carbon emissions. Rich, reliable data is being used to reduce mileage by making global supply chains more efficient and this trend shows signs of gathering pace as retailers continue to source internationally to secure the best prices.

Returns – a reoccurring trend

Whenever we’ve spoken about annual supply chain trends during recent years, customer returns has been a reoccurring trend, and 2024 is likely to be no different. Retailers are working hard to encourage sales amidst consumer uncertainty caused by high living costs. We’re seeing the expansion and diversification of product ranges. Lower-priced goods are being added into the mix, alongside new and alternative offerings for shoppers. This can mean consumers are buying goods they are less familiar with, which can lead to higher rates and volumes of returns.

We’re also seeing a trend of retailers working hard to avoid having to charge shoppers to send goods back. Free returns appeal to cash-strapped and value-conscious consumers and can prove a real point of difference when it comes to adding goods to baskets and the all-important checkout. Taking these points into consideration, I think we can expect to see a growing trend of data-led returns.

Utilising data, retailers can better address margin dilution caused by returns. Salvage rates can be increased, and quicker decisions can be made about items that can’t be returned to grade A. Goods can be redirected to the most appropriate resale channel to extrapolate maximum value from returned items, while also cutting levels of waste and associated disposal costs.

*ASC and Sapio Research surveyed 100 retail decision makers in September 2022 and July 2023. Survey respondents worked for UK retailers employing at least 250 employees.

Third-party logistics provider Rhenus Warehousing Solutions UK offers a specialist service to the FMCG sector

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    Stuart Greenfield, Sales Director at Advanced Supply Chain (ASC), looks ahead to consider the retail supply chain trends we can expect in 2024.. Roll-out of Nominated Carrier Schemes (NCS) Warehousing remains a key priority for retailers. ASC* research in 2022 and this year found it remained the top ranking area of focus for retailers aiming to reduce costs and protect margins.