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4 Things to Know About Supply Chains In 2024


4 Things to Know About Supply Chains In 2024

2023 TRENDS:

Trend 1: Omnichannel consumers settled into a new normal.

“2023 was a year of resetting expectations as online sales plateaued, or even declined, as consumers gravitated back to the brick-and-mortar stores they missed during the pandemic. The pendulum swung heavily from virtual and online interactions to in-person ones in the retail sector. Across the board though, there was a dramatic increase in people getting out and about. Airlines for example saw sales volumes return to, and in many cases surpass, pre-pandemic levels.

As in all situations where consumer behavior is marked by dramatic and fast shifts, the question on most retailers’ minds was ‘what exactly will the new normal look like?’” At the start of the year, most reflected on what they had learned about consumer shopping behavior and asked themselves how they could predict what e-commerce levels would look like going forward. As the year progressed, there was a growing consensus that we had reached a more normal, balanced state – one where it is clear that most people are omnichannel shoppers.”

Trend 2: Materials handling operations are working smarter than ever.

“The pandemic challenged warehouses to effectively achieve dramatically higher throughput in the midst of a severe shortage of labor, and often without access to the parts and components needed to keep systems in optimal shape. This of course all occurred while running systems harder and faster than ever before. It was a tough learning experience for many.

In 2023, many warehouses built on the hard lessons they learned and in general were more effective not only at embracing new disciplines like predictive maintenance, but also at working smarter. For example, we saw organizations making sure they have necessary components in stock while also trying to lessen the demands placed on their facilities. Many retailers also asked themselves how many days of inventory they need to keep on hand, with many choosing to keep more fast-moving products available and accessible from in-store storage – something that can require the altering of store footprints. Brands also took a hard look at how much inventory they want to keep in their distribution centers and warehouses – a strategic question that should be carefully explored while considering numerous factors, including the potential for shortages.”

Trend 3: The shortage of labor remains the elephant in the room and a catalyst for investments in automation.

“The ongoing shortage of labor was a universal challenge across materials handling operations in 2023. Warehouses and distribution centers of all sizes, and in every geography continued to grapple with how to attract new talent and retain existing employees.

Not surprisingly there was a corresponding trend of increased investment in automation as a labor solution, particularly in areas like item picking that are prone to employee churn. Interest in, and demand for robotic item picking and flexible automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) continued to grow, although the industry did not see the exponential increases in adoption one might expect given the rapid pace of innovation and technological advancement occurring today. In the beginning of the year many organizations instead paused to reflect on consumer shopping behaviors and what e-commerce volume would look like. Today, with the market normalizing, investment in automation is again accelerating.”

Trend 4: Employees at every level are embracing the use of robots.

“Employees, from distribution center executives to employees on the warehouse floor, are embracing robotics. Employees are now seeing how robots can offload the most difficult, repetitive, labor intensive and injury prone tasks. Additionally, as more employees become adept at maintaining and optimizing their use, the costs associated with robotics will continue to decrease. This is encouraging organizations to capitalize on the value robotics delivers while upleveling their employees. As a result, robots are increasingly viewed as another tool, similar to advancements in automation now taken for granted like conveyors and automated storage and retrieval systems.”


Prediction 1: 2024 will be the year for omnichannel sales and the flexibility and performance they require.

“As we near 2024 and find ourselves in a new normal where the shifts in consumer behavior are not as extreme, retailers are looking at all of the insights they gained on shoppers and fulfillment practices over the past several years. Whereas the slowdown in e-commerce sales prompted many brands to reflect and proceed with caution, the normalization we are seeing now has prompted many to again invest in their materials handling operations. This time with an important caveat: The focus is no longer solely on brick-and-mortar or e-commerce operations. Instead, retailers are looking at omnichannel approaches that inherently make their businesses more flexible and agile. You could say that 2024 will be the year for omnichannel. More brands will invest in retail automation, but the emphasis will be on performance and flexibility across their brick-and-mortar and online operations.”

Prediction 2: Greenfield construction of warehouses will accelerate in 2024.

“Going into 2023 most predicted that the scarcity of warehouse space would be a gating factor for retailers and materials handling operations nationwide. The good news is inventory levels of warehouse space are increasing and we’re seeing greenfield construction in areas where many did not expect it, including populated areas on the West Coast and in the Northeast. Many fulfillment and materials handling operations will continue to ‘build up’ to attain more storage, particularly in urban areas where real estate costs remain high, but the dramatic shortage of warehouse space most expected to constrain the market did not occur.”

Prediction 3: Robotics will achieve mainstream adoption in 2024.

“Next year we will see a dramatic increase in the number of businesses deploying robots in their distribution centers and warehouses, particularly in item picking where gains in vision software and advancements in end effectors now deliver a return on investment most organizations can’t ignore. This is particularly beneficial when there is a shortage of labor for such roles. In 2024 we will also see more robots doing repetitive tasks like case picking and palletizing. Robotics-as-a-Service will also increase, as many warehouses look to deploy robotics either to explore the benefits they offer firsthand, or to address increased throughput needs.”

Prediction 4: Smaller warehouses will begin their robotics journey with automated vehicles.

“We will see increased use of autonomous vehicles in 2024 as more warehouses look at how they can help offload highly repetitive tasks that are not only hard to fill, but all too often are the source of many workplace injuries. For many smaller warehouses, automated vehicles – which can be deployed in many facilities with minimal upgrades – will mark their first major foray into robotics. This will be particularly true in distribution centers where the same products are consistently being moved in the same path.”

supply chain enable

New Enable Survey Finds How Supply Chain Partners can Overcome Misalignment

Enable’s Report Finds Trading Partners Struggle Due to Supply Chain Pressures, Lack of Communication and Data Silos 

Enable, the rebate management platform, today released its Overcoming the Misalignment Between Supply Chain Partners Report. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (trading partners) have a long history of needing to overcome siloed data streams, friction in workflows and misalignment on goals. Each of these behaviors causes friction within partnerships, leading to arguments, disputes and a lack of focus on delivering for their customers. 

The survey found that in order to work more effectively together, repair trust and form stronger, longer-lasting relationships, trading partners need to collaborate with each other. The results in the report are based on a survey of nearly 250 manufacturers, distributors, buying groups and retailers.

 Key insights from the report:

  • Distributors and manufacturers face significant misalignment  
      • Only 10% of distributors report strong alignment between themselves and trading partners. Data indicates that where alignment is strong, relationships are also strong. 
      • Approximately half of all distributors report a lack of alignment about 50% of the time, meanwhile 76% of manufacturers report alignment between them and their trading partners. This is the collaboration gap, where one partner feels more left out than another. 
      • 40% of manufacturers say they review goals monthly but only 23% of distributors report the same, resulting in a schism between what manufacturers believe they are communicating and in what distributors perceive they are receiving. This gap must be addressed if trading partners are to achieve more success together.
  • Supply chain pressures have polarized relationships  
      • Approximately 40% of distributors and buying groups report stronger relationships in spite of recent supply chain disruptions. 
      • 60% of manufacturers say that their relationships have remained stagnant or grown weaker.  
      • Only 25% of retailers believe their relationships have grown stronger.  
  • Most organizations aren’t managing their relationships with legally binding agreements or contracts  
    • Only 8% of buying groups and distributors manage all their relationships with legally binding agreements. Nearly half of all manufacturers manage 50% or fewer of their relationships via contracts.  These findings are reinforced by a McKinsey survey, which found that companies that collaborate effectively across the supply chain have enjoyed dramatic reductions in inventories and costs, together with improvements in speed, service levels and customer satisfaction.

About Enable 

Enable helps manufacturers, distributors, and retailers take control of their rebate programs and turn them into an engine for growth. Starting with finance and commercial teams, Enable helps you better manage rebate complexity with automated real-time data and insights, accurate forecasting and stronger cross-functional alignment. This lets you — and everyone in your business — know exactly where you are with rebates. Then you can extend Enable externally to suppliers and customers, setting them up with one collaborative place to author, agree upon, execute on, and track the progress of deals.

*Report available to download here .


technology CGS supply

CGS Issues 2023 Global Supply Chain and Technology Trends Report

While eCommerce and Sustainability Top Key Trends, Only 23% in Fashion and Apparel Industry Have High Confidence in Supply Chain

CGS, a global provider of business applications, enterprise learning, and outsourcing services, today released its 2023 Supply Chain Technology Trends Report. The annual report evaluates the vital signs of customers in the fashion, consumer goods, and retail industries that CGS BlueCherry serves.

The 2023 report provided a mix of trends that have held firm and others of increased importance to respondents. Topping the results is a focus on 1) eCommerce and 2) Sustainability as the primary 2023 growth opportunities. Also notable was that only 23% of respondents admitted having high confidence in their supply chain while a majority, 70% either have or plan to implement technology to support process digitalization, such as PLM, ERP, inventory management, demand planning, supply chain tracking, and logistics management.


Key Report Highlights

  • eCommerce: remained the number one growth opportunity in 2023 as it was for CGS’s 2022 Report.
  • Sustainability: represents the year’s biggest change moving from the sixth-most important growth opportunity to the second.
  • Inflation: ranked third, which is consistent with other surveys1, which found 85% of fashion executives predict inflation will continue to challenge the market.
  • Reducing Costs: for 1/3rd of respondents, reducing costs ranked either first or second in their list of 2023 priorities.
  • Supply Chain Confidence: while a healthy 63% of respondents have moderate confidence in their supply chains, only 23% have high confidence and ~15% reported low to no supply chain confidence.
  • Supply Chain Visibility: 57% of respondents plan to improve supply chain visibility in 2023.
  • Digital Transformation: An overwhelming 70% of respondents have or plan to implement technology to support process digitalization
  • Strengthening Supply Chain Relationships: is cited as the number one action taken or planned in order to overcome supply chain challenges.

This report compiles feedback from approximately 350 top executives from the fashion, apparel, footwear, and home goods industries, including professionals from the C-suite, operations, finance, sourcing and supply chain management, product development, retail operations, IT, and e-commerce.

You can download the full report here: 2023 Supply Chain Technology Trends Report.

The BlueCherry Supply Chain Solution

BlueCherry® by CGS is an award-winning, end-to-end supply chain management solution – supporting the needs of high-growth organizations operating in consumer lifestyle products, retail, and apparel. The platform provides complete visibility and resilient supply chain management tools from planning and product development to manufacturing and sales. A robust and flexible feature set enables customers to utilize individual components or take advantage of a single, unified platform.

About CGS

For nearly 40 years, CGS has enabled global enterprises, regional companies, and government agencies to drive breakthrough performance through business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services. CGS is wholly focused on creating comprehensive solutions that meet clients’ complex, multi-dimensional needs, and support clients’ most fundamental business activities. Headquartered in New York City, CGS has offices across North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Five Top 3PL Trends Shaping 2023

Five Top 3PL Trends Shaping 2023

Logistics tech provider CartonCloud has shared its predictions for the top 5 trends that will share how Third-Party Logistics providers will operate in 2023, and it’s all about working smarter, not harder. 

Their team of experts have experience in the industry and work closely with customers and industry partners — giving them a front-row seat to what 3PLs and their customers are seeking into the new year. They’ve shared their predictions here, for the top five 3PL trends to shape 2023— from revenue boosters to better customer service, here they are. 


  • Diversifying services to boost revenue

This year, 3PL providers will be looking to introduce new revenue streams and services to customers, providing a single touch point to outsource their logistics needs, made possible with integrated systems and software

“We’re seeing a shift in the services 3PLs are offering, as more and more businesses look to outsource logistics altogether. 3PLs are acting more like 4PLs, providing storage, freight and handling services as well as reporting and advice, and even acting as a single point of contact for customers, as they manage a range of logistics providers on the customer’s behalf.

“Our software is an integrated WMS/TMS, which means our customers can play it smart, listen to what their customers need and find new and innovative ways to provide that, under one umbrella,” said CartonCloud COO Shaun Hagen. 

In 2022, 3PLs were beginning to move further into diversification; building new revenue streams and thinking of new ways to offer additional services to either win new business or provide more to their existing customers. 

Transport operators were offering limited freight handling or complete pick and pack for orders, warehouses were maximizing the use of their space with cross-docking services for fast-moving freight, and many operators were providing additional data and reporting based on the data they were already collecting. 

  • The importance of Direct Software Integrations 

Data accuracy, speed, and security remains front of mind for 3PLs looking to grow in the coming 12 months. In 2023, the ability to connect systems and securely share data seamlessly across systems and platforms as a part of day-to-day operations will be a key focus for 3PLs looking to optimize operations and expand. 

“In 2022, we built over 1,000 integrations for CartonCloud customers, allowing them to streamline data flow between systems — from linking to their customer’s online stores like Shopify and WooCommerce, to direct connections with specialty ERP systems like Crafted ERP, accounting platforms like Xero and Quickbooks, or DIY integrations through our public Zapier or self-service API,” said CartonCloud founder and CEO Vincent Fletcher.

  • Saving time with hands-off reporting

The new year will see 3PLs focus on building efficiency in more than just their operations. Logistics businesses will be looking at how they can save time in all areas of their business, especially through automating manual tasks like rate calculations, invoicing and ordering. 

Back in the paper days, reporting would take hours or days — trawling through spreadsheets or trying to find paper PODs and receipts, and then answering the phone to every customer seeking an update on their inventory or shipment. 

“Not anymore, 3PLs can’t afford to lose so many hours on manual data entry and they can’t afford to have data that isn’t accurate. Automated reporting and customer access to reporting portals needs to be a priority for 3PLs who are serious about customer service, and growing their business,” said CartonCloud Implementation Manager Shaun Johnson. 

Automating orders, reports, and invoicing will save 3PLs hours of admin hours, freeing them up to focus on more areas of their business. From sign on glass at warehouse dispatch, to barcode scanning for cross-docking — data capture in 2023 will be important, thorough, and simplified. With manual tasks automated, they have more time to fulfill more orders, or focus on other areas of their business.

  • Track-ability

Whether it’s the ability to see a shipment in transit, view stock levels in the warehouse, or receive an electronic POD (ePOD) at the point of delivery, track-ability provides important usable data to all members of the supply chain. 

With this data collection comes the importance of sharing information with partners and customers to use in their own planning and reporting needs. 

“The ability to pull up any consignment and instantly see who it has been allocated to, if it’s in transit, and exactly when it is delivered is paramount to having a scalable transport operation. 

Likewise, being able to easily capture inventory data as your warehouse personnel work directly through the mobile app is a game changer. It keeps reports up to date and allows you to show order dispatch date and time across multiple platforms through integrations,” said CartonCloud Customer Operations Manager Scott Murray. 

  • Deep understanding of tech features and a drive to get the most 

This year, 3PL providers will begin taking a bigger part in learning about the technology they have on hand, exploring how new features can allow them to do more for their customers or bring on new customer entirely. 

3PL providers will take time to ensure thy have the right software for their system, and they will want it to be usable and easy to roll out across their team and operations. They want to do more for their customers, and they want to know all the ways their software can help them save time and money, and increase their output. 

“When we started with CartonCloud, we were probably only using about 5% of the software’s capability. Now, each client we bring on has a new requirement, and we start to use a new level of the software, or access features we hadn’t needed before,” said TNS Logistics Commercial Manager Matt Norton

This year will see a trend in learning about tech, and being aware of the solutions out there that can simplify, optimize and revolutionize their operations. These logistics companies will use multiple areas and features of their systems to boost productivity, accuracy, and output — and to free up more of their own time from manual tasks. 

“We used to see warehouses and transport companies have to bring in project managers and, tech experts or have an entire team dedicated to switching their software system or bringing on a new system, but the way CartonCloud is designed makes it so easy-to-use, that the team they have on hand can simply pick it up and start using it. 

They can digitize operations in days, bringing in new tech and new automation for data entry, without any headaches — and this will see 3PLs expanding their use of software, ensuring they get the most from their systems that they possibly can,” said CartonCloud Implementation Consultant Mitch Whitnack. 

The world of logistics continues to evolve, creating a new business environment for 3PLs offering warehousing and transport services, and technology adaptation is providing new ways for these businesses to optimize and expand. 

Want more industry insights? CartonCloud’s Logistics Index reports keep a finger on the pulse of the logistics industry and are available for free from the CartonCloud website. 

Visit for more information.

procurement logistics trax

5 Key Trends Reshaping Transportation and Logistics in 2023

Logistics and supply chains will continue to face countless and unpredictable disruptions in 2023, such as the economy, weather, geopolitical issues, and much more. As companies prepare for what’s ahead in 2023 here’s what carriers and shippers need to know and how to prepare:

Digitization, data, and visibility Paper is still commonly used in supply chain processes, but it is quickly being replaced by digital communications, and that shift is expected to continue in 2023. Digitization is allowing companies to mine data for valuable insights and to accelerate intelligent decision-making. Data analytics and intelligence provide increasing visibility to customers, which is still one of the biggest challenges for shippers today. When a shipper works with multiple vendors, it’s difficult to know the latest shipment updates without calling different suppliers and simultaneously piece together the legal documentation for transportation. This hassle not only reduces time and operational efficiency but also increases margin of error. By digitizing the supply chain process and collecting the data through the life of a load, any shipper can have full visibility on their shipment, saving them time and energy, and thus making them more resourceful. In 2023, this rise in digitization, data, and visibility will keep soaring and becoming even faster and increasingly accurate as old processes and paper become a thing of the past.

Reshoring and nearshoring for manufacturers – Reshoring and nearshoring have increased over the past decade, mostly due to ongoing tension between the US and China, significant increases in shipping costs from China, the effects of the pandemic on global supply chains, and sustainability concerns. According to a Thomas Survey in April 2020, 64% of North American manufacturers interviewed said they were likely to bring manufacturing production back to the Americas. The impact of these circumstances has led manufacturers to hone in on their strategy. Many companies have relocated from Asia to Mexico or the US to lower transit times and reduce risk around potential challenges. There are various structural advantages to US-Mexico trade, such as proximity, same time zone, similarity of work cultures, and geopolitical advantages. Proximity allows goods to be transported over the road at competitive prices. US shippers that need to bring cargo from China quickly have to pay for air freight, which is expensive. Otherwise, they would have to move cargo via ocean, which takes 20 to 30 days. Given the benefits of bringing manufacturing closer to home, this trend is expected to continue.

 Rising diesel prices From January to June 2022, the price of diesel fuel rose 55% in the United States. The Russia-Ukraine crisis has been a chief cause, as has the international rule IMO 2020, which just took effect at the start of the year. In fact, the geopolitical issues caused by the Russia-Ukraine crisis have led to a significant demand-supply gap in the global trade market, and the increased prices of fuels will most likely reduce the global GDP growth. This international rule requires the fuel oil that powers ships to have a sulfur content of no more than 0.5%, and has affected diesel prices since. With so many factors affecting diesel prices and so much volatility in the market, businesses moving cargo will have to find ways to adapt to this continued rise in prices in 2023. 

Sustainable shipping and environmental regulation – For the global trucking industry, there are already minimum fuel efficiency standards and maximum emissions standards for gasoline and diesel vehicles. Increasing environmental regulations and consumer pressures to bring down pollution and greenhouse emissions are motivating stakeholders in the logistics industry to reconfigure and innovate to take on a green infrastructure and electric fleets. A recent regulation introduced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on ESG requires any public company to include climate-related disclosures in their 10-K. Companies would also have to report risks associated with climate change. Through the optimization of logistics and moving goods at a reasonable cost and minimum environmental impact, efficiencies can be improved, and carbon footprints reduced. With the help of ongoing initiatives and regulations, we expect this trend to also continue in the coming year.

Automation – Technology and automation in logistics operations has become very important to address pain points in the industry and manage shipments at lower costs and in a timely manner. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the transportation and warehousing industry has the third-highest automation potential of any sector. AI, machine learning, computer vision, connected IoT networks, and blockchain can all be applied to simplify logistics operations, make them more efficient, and optimize resources. For that, the rise of automation is expected to keep trending in 2023.  

As we wrap up 2022 and look ahead, we can anticipate that the new year will continue to present us with challenges; however, it’s also a time of opportunity in the supply chain and logistic industries as businesses shift from reactive to proactive and from survival mode to growth mode. Technologies that will continue to reign include AI, digitization, automation and cloud-based solutions. We’ll also witness the launch of more advanced technologies into this sector as more businesses adopt drones and robots. For manufacturers, reshoring and nearshoring will be a top priority while geopolitics will continue to influence supply chains. A key takeaway that will transport us into the new year is the importance of shifting conventional mindsets to develop solid supply chain and logistics strategies that align with the current landscape, as key players adapt to the unending changes in the industry.  


productivity supply chain 4.0 goods

Is the Supply Chain Directly Effected by Trends?

As time goes by, the global supply chain has evolved as trade fairs or shows create supply chain opportunities. The trade has emerged into more than just booths to display products. Trades have become marketplaces amplified by educational opportunities, innovation launches, and data-driven qualified lead retrieval.

Many companies increase their supply chain for good competition and fair market shares in various industries. To dominate the market, they need to be more familiar with the trends that could affect their supply chain.

The products, raw materials, and supplies they need can affect all their business growth and operations. Imagine the new items not present showcased at a trade fair; if they’re not available, it’ll damage the company’s reputation.

This article will focus on the trends that affect the supply chain directly.

The Trends That Affect The Supply Chain

There are many aspects that affect the supply chain, but here are six that can directly affect it, as well as your business:

Artificial Intelligence and Automation

Automation has been helping many industries for years. It makes the organization run smoother as automated software automates repetitive tasks. This allows the workforce to focus on other factors crucial to business growth.

On the other hand, AI is here to assist humans, as it analyzes the data needed and helps business owners to decide rationally. Although it still needs human input, it’ll be faster than manually analyzing data.

Companies can utilize artificial intelligence trends by using software to make things faster and smoother. AI and automation provide quick and accurate results necessary for success.


Digitization refers to the input of data in a digital format. In recent years, more and more companies have switched to digitization as it provides a more streamlined process.

When your goal is excellent supply chain management, digitization is non-negotiable. Business owners can easily access the data whenever, wherever they are. It’ll also be one of the keys to making everything smoother, as all the data can be sent through email or digitally.

You might find the transition of going digital quite challenging. You need to have the right software and tools for the nature of your business, study how to use and implement them, and build internal training for the team members.

You might not want to digitize soon, but remember that it is the present, and you’ll struggle more when you decide to do it later.


As consumers care for the environment more, many companies have shown an effort to increase sustainability in their products. There are many ways to go green, so you’ll have to find what suits your business.

Some will think it’s in the supply chain process, while others believe it should start in manufacturing. On the manufacturing side, they might want to use alternative energy sources to power the plant. On the other hand, changing the packaging for commerce could be effective.

You can also use green transportation methods when moving your supplies from one point to another.

Risk Management

Like many businesses, the supply chain isn’t safe from risk. You cannot control the weather, predict health emergencies, or foresee political events.

The weather alone can affect the manufacturing and delivery of the goods. If you need the supplies soon, you might not be able to receive them because of typhoons. This is the same when there are political agendas and health and safety concerns, such as an epidemic in the area.

However, you can make your business prepare for it. You need to understand all the possible risks that could affect the supply chain. Once you’ve listed them, you can create contingency plans to lessen the disruption and continue the business operation.

Simply put, your business operations can avoid a considerable blow from any concerns that may arise as you come prepared.

Human Relationship

Technology is critical for better supply chain management; so are the humans using it. They will ensure that the system is functioning correctly and following the standards of your business. It also means you must build a good relationship between your vendors and suppliers.

Maintaining good relationships among people is an integral key to your success. The team members will ensure that everything is running smoothly within the organization. On the other hand, vendors and suppliers will continue doing business with you, allowing you to have an undisrupted business operation.

Look for ways you can become beneficial to both of your goals. Exchanging information with them will help as it allows you to plan and discuss possible options or directions for the organization.


Visibility and transparency are vital factors for the supply chain. You should be able to track the shipment of your products or materials to the next location until the last one. It’ll help you understand whether the delivery is moving slowly or too fast to replenish your stocks.

Similarly, the end users or consumers should also track the delivery of your products. This provides more integrity to your business. Fortunately, we have AI and the process of digitization to simplify the process.

All key people, stakeholders, clients, and more, can monitor the progress. You’ll also be able to avoid any issues, such as order delays and errors, as you can watch everything.

Since there is data available for you, creating contingency plans and resolutions to problems can become more efficient, boosting the reliability and resilience of your supply chain and the business itself.

Sum Up

The supply chain can affect your business operations directly. Without the supplies of raw materials or products, you might not be able to generate revenue. So understanding how it works and the factors that affect it is necessary.

AI, digitization, and tracking systems are just a few of the trends that use technology that can make the whole process smoother. You can also focus on sustainability and risk management to enhance your products and services. Don’t forget to build strong relationships within and outside the company.

Once you know which elements directly affect your supply chain, you’d be able to analyze and create plans for your business to make the whole process more efficient.


supply chain management

Expert Insight: Supply Chain Disruptions Through the Eyes of TITAN Professional Tools

“Supply chain troubles.” “From bad [2020] to worse [2021].” It was a “perfect storm for our supply chain crisis.” These are just a few of the headlines I’ve seen in recent weeks looking back on 2021. While I think we’re all eager to turn the page and start anew, I fear many of the challenges we experienced last year will continue into 2022 – and perhaps beyond. If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that our supply chain is more fragile than many of us imagined.

Case in point, a recent estimate from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reported that the truck driver shortage has risen to 80,000 – an all-time high for the industry. According to the ATA study, the driver shortage could surpass 160,000 by the end of the decade, noting that the industry will need to recruit nearly one million new drivers to replace those retiring or leaving the business. Not only did the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 exacerbate the issue, but it also revealed gaps in every link of the supply chain and then amplified the impact of those collective weaknesses.


A recent Wall Street Journal article perfectly summarized the challenge:

Trucks haul more than 70% of domestic cargo shipments. Yet many fleets say they can’t hire enough drivers to meeting booming consumer demand as the U.S. economy emerges from the pandemic. The freight backup has intensified longstanding strains in the industry over hours, pay, working conditions and retention. The surge of goods has created logjams at loading docks and port terminals, gobbling up scarce trucking capacity and making drivers’ jobs even harder. Factories and warehouses are also short of staff to load and receive goods. Meanwhile, the broader labor shortage has left openings for other blue-collar jobs that compete with trucking, including in local delivery operations, construction and manufacturing.

To better understand the operational and logistical issues retailers, importers, wholesalers and other distribution organizations are facing due to the state of today’s supply chain, I recently spoke Nick Tsitis, vice president at TITAN Professional Tools. His account is eye-opening, to say the least, and can hopefully help those facing similar challenges.

Q:  How did the Suez Canal accident create operational and logistical issues for businesses like TITAN Professional Tools?

A:  No one talks about this anymore. Before conversations of current supply chain issues, however, our forwarders often referenced the incident. I believe it significantly contributed to and accelerated our current supply chain problems, including shortages of equipment and limited space on vessels and at our ports. There’s been a huge stress on the ports, making it difficult to even get containers off the ships. And when you do get them off the ships, they sit in these piles disorderly piles they’re calling “pig piles” now. Whatever’s on top becomes available first.  And if you’re on the bottom of that pig pile, your merchandise is stuck.

So, not only is it taking time to get containers off ships, but it’s also taking time to get them from the ground onto chassis. Once containers finally do make it to our facility, and we get them unloaded, you would think with such a shortage of equipment there would be an urgency to return containers, but they cannot be returned to the port. We recently discovered 12 containers being stored in our business park from someone that is not a tenant here.  Apparently, they ran out space in their complex, and decided to park the equipment at ours.

Q: How have issues like this impacted your operating costs?

A: In so many ways.  It used to cost $1,500 to get a container from Asia to Seattle. Now we’re paying as high as $18,000. We are often charged demurrage for containers that are off vessels but not delivered to us within a week.  There are surcharges being implemented on both sides as well (Asia and USA). It’s a huge burden on us. It also affects our cash conversion cycle as goods invoiced to us are stuck in transit, and we can’t invoice until we receive and ship to our customers.

Q: How are you dealing with dock scheduling and similar issues caused by all this unpredictability?

A: Once we can get the container and get an appointment, it hasn’t been too big of a problem. On occasion, the truck drivers will have to wait sometimes six to eight hours to pick up a container. We used to pay under $100 to get a container from Seattle to Kent. Now it’s almost $700 to move it seven miles. Local drayage is up, and we’re often having to pay the drivers by the hour to wait in line to ensure we get our merchandise.

Q: Are you also facing labor shortages in the warehouse that compound these issues?

A: I know others have but we haven’t realized that because we’re a small business and have a lot of family here that have been with the company for a long time.  We are fortunate and may be y the exception when it comes to labor. But, yes, when you look down the road and see Amazon hiring at $23.50 an hour with a $3,000 signing bonus, it can be hard to compete with that.  it has in the past.

Q: How close do you think we are to seeing an end to these disruptions?

A: Well, everything’s related in one way or another – if not directly, then indirectly – to these supply chain problems. Our lead time with several factories is now as high as 18 months, where it used to take 45 to 90 days to manufacture product and 14 days transit is now taking as many as 60 or 90 days transit. There are some factories, that if we placed an order now, we won’t see it for almost two years. That’s an extreme. Most factories now are taking 6 to 8 months. As a result, we’re buying out a year, which is really scary. So, yes, it’s going to take a long time to recover. I don’t think it’s going to get back to normal for at least another year.

Q:  Based on your experiences, what advice would you share with other businesses facing similar challenges?

A:  We often use the word “partnership” between vendors and customers. We are making it thru these challenging times because of the true partnerships we have on both sides, with our vendors, and our customers. Everyone is understanding, being more flexible and forgiving, and more willing to accommodate than before. Pardon the pun, but everyone is “in the same boat” on this.  We need to work together to get through it.

apple juice

European Concentrated Apple Juice Imports Dropped Twofold over the Past Decade

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – Concentrated Apple Juice – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In 2020, concentrated apple juice imports in the EU dropped twofold after peaking in 2007, from $1.2B to $0.6B. In physical terms, imports fell from 808K tonnes to 463K tonnes over this period. Germany represents the main European importer of concentrated apple juice, accounting for 34% of total import volume in the EU. Austria and the Netherlands, with a further combined 25%-share, follow Germany. From 2007 to 2020, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands recorded a slump in the value of imports.


Concentrated Apple Juice Imports in the EU

Concentrated apple juice imports dropped to 463K tonnes in 2020, reducing by -13.7% compared with 2019 figures. In value terms, concentrated apple juice imports estimated at $584M (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

In value terms, European concentrated apple juice imports dropped twofold, from $1.2B in 2007 to $0.6B in 2020. In physical terms, imports reduced from 808K tonnes to 463K tonnes during this period.

Germany represented the major importer of concentrated apple juice in the EU, with the volume of imports reaching 158K tonnes, which was approx. 34% of total imports in 2020. Austria (58K tonnes) occupied a 13% share (based on tonnes) of total imports, which put it in second place, followed by the Netherlands (12%), France (11%) and Poland (11%). Ireland (20K tonnes) and Denmark (10K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

In value terms, Germany ($209M) constitutes the largest market for imported concentrated apple juice in the EU, comprising 36% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by the Netherlands ($73M), with a 12% share of total imports. It was followed by Austria, with a 12% share.

From 2007 to 2020, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value in Germany totaled -6.9%. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: the Netherlands (-3.6% per year) and Austria (-8.8% per year).

The concentrated apple juice import price in the EU stood at $1,262 per tonne in 2020, jumping by +19% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Denmark ($1,397 per tonne), while Ireland ($572 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. From 2007 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by the Netherlands, while the other leaders experienced a decline in the import price figures.

Source: IndexBox Platform 


China Strengthens Leading Position in Global Imports of Zirconium Ores and Concentrates

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Zirconium Ores and Concentrates – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global zirconium ore and concentrate market soared by +16% y-o-y to $2.4B in 2020. China, Australia and the U.S. lead global zirconium ore and concentrate consumption, with a combined 78%-share of the total volume. China prevails in global zirconium concentrate imports, steadily increasing the volume of purchases over the last decade. In 2020, the world average import price for zirconium ores and concentrates amounted to $987 per tonne, rising at an average annual rate of +1.1% over the past ten years.


Global Consumption of Zirconium Ores and Concentrates

The global zirconium ores and concentrate market soared to $2.4B in 2020, increasing by +16% against the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, indirect taxes and intermediaries’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +2.2% from 2010 to 2020.

The countries with the highest volumes of zirconium ores and concentrates consumption in 2020 were China (1.2M tonnes), Australia (711K tonnes) and the U.S. (98K tonnes), together comprising 78% of global consumption. These countries were followed by Spain, India, Senegal and South Africa, which together accounted for a further 10%.

In value terms, China ($976M), Australia ($529M) and the U.S. ($155M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of market value in 2020, together accounting for 70% of the global market. These countries were followed by Spain, India, Senegal and South Africa, which together accounted for a further 14%.

In 2020, the highest levels of zirconium ores and concentrates per capita consumption was registered in Australia (28 kg per person), followed by Senegal (3 kg per person), Spain (2 kg per person) and South Africa (1 kg per person), while the world average was estimated at 0.33 kg per person.

Global Imports of Zirconium Ores and Concentrates

In 2020, supplies from abroad of zirconium ores and concentrates decreased by -8% to 1.5M tonnes, falling for the second year in a row after two years of growth. In value terms, zirconium ore and concentrate imports shrank markedly to $1.5B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020. Overall, total imports indicated a mild expansion from 2010 to 2020: the value increased at an average annual rate of +0.5% over the last decade.

China prevails in zirconium concentrate import structure, resulting in 1.1M tonnes, which was approx. 72% of total imports in 2020. It was distantly followed by Spain (101K tonnes), generating a 6.7% share of total imports. India (56K tonnes), Malaysia (35K tonnes), Italy (35K tonnes) and the U.S. (24K tonnes) held a minor share of total imports.

From 2010 to 2020, the average annual growth rates of zirconium ore and concentrate imports into China stood at +4.0%. Over this period, China increased its imports from 732K tonnes to 1.1M tonnes. From 2010 to 2020, China (+21 p.p.) significantly strengthened its position in zirconium ore and concentrate imports.

Malaysia (+6.3%) and India (+1.8%) also displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Malaysia emerged as the fastest-growing importer globally, with a CAGR of +6.3% from 2010-2020. Meanwhile, the U.S. experienced a relatively flat trend pattern. By contrast, Spain (-3.6%) and Italy (-9.9%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, China ($869M) constitutes the largest market for imported zirconium ores and concentrates worldwide, comprising 59% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Spain ($142M), with a 9.6% share of global imports, and it was followed by India, with a 5.3% share.

In 2020, the global average import price for zirconium ores and concentrates amounted to $987 per tonne, declining by -9.5% against the previous year. Over the period under review, import price indicated a modest increase from 2010 to 2020: its price increased at an average annual rate of +1.1% over the last decade.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2020, the country with the highest price was the U.S. ($2,000 per tonne), while China ($1,000 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the U.S. attained the most notable price growth rate, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


3 key trends bolstering current sensor market share through 2027

The global current sensor market value is expected to register commendable expansion over the forthcoming years, impelled by the rising demand for magneto resistive technology across various regions. The technology offers high-end specifications comprising low output noise, core-less architecture, high linearity, and low hysteresis. It is extensively deployed in the energy/utility sector, owing to high sensitivity, reliable performance, and design flexibility in harsh operating conditions.

Impelled by these factors, current sensor market size is estimated to surpass a valuation of USD 3 billion by 2027, as stated by the latest research conducted by Global Market Insights, Inc.

Numerous current sensor companies, including TDK Corporation, Allegro MicroSystems, Infineon Technologies AG, Silicon Laboratories, Honeywell International, Aceinna, and others, are focusing on the adoption of strategic moves such as mergers, acquisitions, and product developments for consolidating their position in the market.

For instance, in October 2021, Infineon Technologies AG launched its XENSIV TLE4972 automotive current sensor, which makes use of the company’s well-proven Hall technology for stable and precise current measurements.

Quoting another instance, in September 2021, Hioki rolled out two new products, comprising an AC/DC sensor and a power analyzer. The solutions have been designed for ensuring the efficient and safe use of energy via accurate electric flow measurement in wind & solar power-generation equipment.

Here are some pivotal trends that are expected to influence current sensor industry expansion over the ensuing years:

Rising demand for UPS & SMPS

The market revenue from UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) & SMPS (Switched-Mode Power Supply) applications is anticipated to escalate at a CAGR of 7% between 2021 and 2027. This rise is majorly impelled by the surging demand for high-speed broadband connections and cloud-based services in data centers.

Different current sensor types help in the improvement of UPS and SMPS in an efficient manner by limiting the flow of reverse current in systems, while enhancing safety. The technology has advanced from conventional large sizes to compact rack systems for data centers.

Increasing adoption of e-mobility across Europe

Rising formulation of strict safety and emission regulations is encouraging the adoption of e-mobility in Europe, boosting current sensor industry outlook in the coming years. Citing an instance, the EC (European Commission) has set an aggressive CO2 emission reduction target for the transportation industry through 2050. The sector, therefore, anticipates a high penetration of EVs between 2030 and 2050.

Key automotive OEMs in the region, comprising Audi, BMW Group, PSA Group, and others, are focusing on the development of advanced automotive safety systems, comprising ADAS and self-driving cars. Owing to these aspects, Europe current sensor market value is estimated to register a CAGR of 5.5% from 2021 to 2027.

Expanding product deployment across the telecommunication sector

The telecommunication segment accounted for nearly 10% of the market revenue in 2020 and is estimated to exceed a CAGR of 5% through the estimated period. This rise is attributed to the escalating integration of 5G technology in developing countries comprising South Korea, Argentina, India, and China, among others.

The increasing demand for continuous internet connectivity and escalating data traffic owing to the remote working trend is forcing telecom operators in the upgradation of their network infrastructure, augmenting industry size in the near future.

In a nutshell, the soaring adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles at the global level will spur current sensor market size over the anticipated period.

Source: Global Market Insights Inc.