The interview of Jean-Michel Guarneri from the Aslog

"Omni-channel issues and the main trend in recent years in companies’ supply chain divisions"

- Jean-Michel Guarneri, Chairman - Aslog

Omnichannel is a major concern of supply chain directors

Without a doubt, omnichannel is the imperative talking point for supply chain directors both now and in years to come. Faced with increasingly high demands, multichannel distribution – the ability to be in contact with their clients simultaneously across several distribution channels - has had to reorganise itself to become omnichannel. The new consumer is no longer content to have access to all distribution channels: they want to be able to order on one, collect their products on another and why not exchange it in a third… all of this smoothly and easily.

Distribution has therefore revisited its models to cater to this new demand, where borders between the different distribution channels no longer exist. As a result, the  organisation of warehouses also needs revisiting. It is no longer possible, or at least it is difficult, to dedicate a warehouse or a stock to a single distribution channel.

Logistics specialists must, from the same stock, be in a position to prepare pallet loads, single reference parcels and multi reference parcels independently of the volumes and weights of the products. To deal with this additional complexity, new IT solutions have been published such as OMS (order management systems). They allow omnichannel logistics organisations to optimise the sequencing of order picking operations. The development of omnichannel operations has also been supported by automation and robotization. While previously the primary decision criteria for investing in an automated or robotic system was the volume of operations to be processed, nowadays it is the complexity relating to the execution of multichannel operations which tops the list.

Environment, a new key issue

Under the impetus of major online vendors, next half-day or even next-hour delivery has become one of the current yardsticks in service quality. But is the consumer/citizen ready to accept the consequences of this race against the clock: traffic congestion in cities, air and noise pollution, new dangerous jobs?

Many supply chain directors believe that we must redefine the true requirements of consumers in this area, obviously in concert with them, and that the most important thing is to fulfill the given promise rather than focus on delivering as quickly as possible.

In this environmental approach, transport should also be optimised to avoid empty mileage runs, low vehicle fill rates and poorly-organised delivery rounds. Packaging, and in particular overpackaging, also has a major role to play: it should be adjusted to its content to avoid transporting “pockets of void”.

Our society has increasing demands for and is open to sustainable and responsible actions, and more readily judges the performance of these companies and brands on these criteria.

New digital tools and solutions for supply chain management

Supply chain directors consider that it is now essential to collect data on the execution of their operations in a “lean supply chain” approach. And also obtain all the external information which might help them to improve the quality of the operations processed. This implies that they should be in a position to combine data internal to the company with those sourced from outside.

This can only be accomplished efficiently with agile and open information technology tools! Software has always been capable of outputting processed information, but the major new development is to be able to simultaneously manage, crossreference and analyse huge flows of data from heterogeneous systems located both inside and outside the company.

Human resources: the leading asset of supply chain management

Working together with recruitment and human resource management consultants, Aslog is seeking to identify the new job specialities in supply chain management.

For instance, for the year currently underway:

  • Data scientists, to process and analyse all the flows of data captured inside and outside the firm to improve service quality and optimise operations,
  • Logistics production planners, to schedule logistics production in real-time and steer automated and robotic systems,
  • Automated and robotic logistics systems maintenance managers, to guarantee the high availability of production resources, 
  • Logistics controllers, to accurately measure the cost and actual performance of logistics operations in the context of increased complexity.

In view of the new challenges and new requirements of supply chain management, continuous training has an important role to play in developing the skills of logistics and supply chain teams in place. It is also essential to be able to attract new talent in this sector which is complex, sometimes misunderstood and low in appeal. 

“Supply chain management is not just in need of specialists. The increasing importance of this function, at a crossroads with other key functions in the company, also requires management and top management profiles,” adds Jean-Michel Guarneri. This is what prompted Aslog to found the label “Budding Manager” (“graine de manager”) two years ago to detect the new, talented managers of the future.

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