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30.07.2020

CEO Views - Solving APAC’s Supply Chain Challenges with Collaboration

Due to more products, more changing hands, and quicker fulfillment through more channels, businesses need to find new ways to streamline. These challenges are often large, but they’re also nuanced depending on where you are in the world. 

Unfortunately, less than 10 percent of professionals feel they’re ahead of supply chain challenges and less than 50 percent can address more than one supply chain challenge at a time. With those challenges only expected to grow in line with rising customer expectations, it is more important than ever that businesses begin looking for innovative solutions.

There are a number of unique supply chain challenges affecting the APAC region — some that are long-standing, and some that have become more prominent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions. In particular, many areas are struggling with balancing human labor with automation and robotics in supply chains, especially in light of the coronavirus. 

Supply Chain Challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region

Social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home orders have increased customer reliance on online shopping, putting more pressure than ever on warehouses and warehouse workers to deliver products rapidly and efficiently. As of now, it’s still unclear how much of that shift will remain once COVID-19 restrictions ease up, but the changes are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. That means more urban and suburban retail spaces will likely be converted into warehouses for online fulfillment instead of brick and mortar shopping spaces — or serve an omnichannel role for limited in-person interactions and online fulfillment. 

Those transformations may exacerbate existing supply chain challenges. In particular, the post-COVID landscape will likely see a greater reliance on autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in the warehouse. The APAC region has been shifting toward greater incorporation of AMR automation in recent years in general — the Asia-Pacific AMR market was already predicted to grow by 17.5 percent over the coming years before the coronavirus hit — but the need to social distance as well as meet ever-increasing customer expectations is making more and more countries in the region turn to robotics. [1] Even areas with relatively low labor costs, like India, are looking to AMRs, which offer greater portability and adaptability than other robotic and automated solutions. This approach offers critical support as the region adapts warehouses to new geopolitical and financial circumstances. 

Addressing APAC’s Supply Chain Complexity

The challenge many APAC companies face as AMRs and robotics become more prevalent is the complexity of integrating the new systems with existing technology stacks and processes. For context, in a recent Körber market study, we found that 48 percent of businesses struggle with integrating hardware and software. Beyond technology, 46 percent have issues integrating functions across the supply chain, from manufacturing to customer deliveries. This speaks to the challenges businesses face with cross-functional collaboration and introducing innovation through technology. In short, businesses risk creating new problems as they solve old ones. 

The answer to this challenge is to find the right partners. With more effective collaborations and technologies that add value to your business without introducing new complexity, the path to success is streamlined. The simplest way to solve supply chain complexity is to reduce your number of partners, which means less disparate technologies, more natural integrations, and fewer alignment meetings. (And who wouldn’t benefit from fewer meetings?)

But, how does this impact the bottom line? Let’s take a look...

Growing with Körber 

Back in March, we introduced Körber Supply Chain to the world. By combining 12 sister companies into one effective solution, Körber is transforming the way businesses meet customers’ expectations and deliver on their promises. Our Global CEO, Chad Collins, lays out how one large supply chain partner brings value to your business. This is hugely beneficial in the APAC region, where many multinational businesses have to work with separate local solutions at each of their warehouses. For these multinationals, fewer partners means fewer connection points across all systems. 

Take ERP for example. When a business upgrades or replaces its ERP across its entire business, the time and resources involved in this change take away from productivity and negatively impact revenue. Collaborating with a single partner like Körber to manage the supply chain integrations and changes can result in major financial savings. You’re no longer managing multiple integrations in multiple countries. The deployment only needs to be established once. 

Of course this is just one example of the power of your partnerships. With a single partner, it is easier for companies to face the challenges of a post-COVID world in which there will likely be even more reliance on eCommerce and online delivery. Simplified integrations make it easier for multinational companies with warehouses in APAC regions to embrace changes, like the incorporation of AMRs. These changes can easily be incorporated across all locations since global companies no longer need to work with local solutions at each warehouse. 

Further, Körber can even help best practices from other regions spread to APAC more quickly because all the warehouses are tied to the same system and can be updated in the same way. That means more effective and efficient warehouses, which enable companies to meet ever-rising customer expectations.

By coming together as Körber and providing technologies and expertise in every imaginable area of supply chain, we have the power to create stronger collaborations with our customers. 
For the APAC region and every other region around the world, Körber offers the ability to simplify processes without making compromises.

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