GS1’s Supply Chain Week: the best bits, bits you missed & things you need to know

supply chain changes

Noticed a lot of out-of-office replies in your inbox over the past two weeks? There a good chance your business contacts were absorbed in GS1 Australia’s Supply Chain Week 2015, one of the industry’s largest and most anticipated annual conferences.

GS1 Australia’s Supply Chain Week is an annual event that brings various sectors together to share their latest insights and experiences to shape future supply chain solutions and work together to achieve greater things. It’s all about the latest supply chain changes that have, and will, occur.

Held over three full days in Melbourne, followed by three days in Sydney, the fifth annual event covered healthcare, trade & transport, food & beverage and general merchandise. Sounds intense, doesn’t it? That’s because it was! (As anyone who saw the GS1 team by the end of the second week will attest!)

Here at Matthews Australia, we were honoured to speak at a number of sessions at both the Melbourne and Sydney events. And with speakers from eBay, Telstra, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, Australian Government Department of Immigration & Border Protection and many more, we took the opportunity to find out the emerging trends, issues and opportunities in each industry.

It’s an event not to be missed, but if you couldn’t get there, here’s our lowdown of what you need to know.

  1. Interconnectivity has never been more critical to transport & logistics

If there’s one thing that came out loud and clear in the transport & logistics sessions, it’s that interconnectivity is absolutely essential. It’s estimated that there will be an 80% increase in freight by 2030 — which is utterly huge! Have you ever stopped to think about the number of people involved in delivering a single parcel? (Hint: it’s more than you’re probably thinking.)

Transport & logistics is a complex industry, but it’s one that connects every single sector, so if we can work together to improve it, Australia can become more competitive as a nation. In fact, research shows that an increase in logistics’ total factor productivity of just 1% is estimated to deliver back $2 billion into the Australian economy.

The good news is GS1 Australia has been working with the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) alongside other organisations on a solution: a harmonised Australian Transport & Logistics label. This means just one label will be used to facilitate traceability in the supply chain. Now a single label may not have the power to change the whole industry, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

  1. It’s time to measure dimensional weight

With the world of freight evolving at a rapid rate, manufacturers and suppliers across all industries need to look at how they can optimise packaging and shipping costs.

As I mentioned last week, in the United States, FedEx and UPS have already rolled out new dimensional (“dim”) rates, forcing distributors to review their approaches to packaging and shipping. For example, because there are penalties for shipping “empty space”, many distributors have needed to find smarter and more economical ways to package goods. (See how optimising your packaging can optimise your supply chain.)

There’s lots of technology out there that can be used to automatically and consistently measure dimensional weight, such as cubing and weighing equipment.

  1. Innovation needs to drive healthcare

When it came to the healthcare session, it was a full house. The topic wasn’t new: how do traceability and efficiency lead to better safety and care of patients? Despite that, the presenters were extremely engaging in the way they offered real-life insights and solutions.

The big take-away here was that local and global standards are essential in improving safety and efficiency in healthcare. The best example was in Liverpool Hospital in NSW, where an RFID chip was used to trace a product through the system.

Another innovative technology that’s being used in healthcare is vision inspection. This automatically looks at quality control and enhances accuracy and efficiency for health providers, hospital and manufacturers. It can even be used by any organisation with a returnable goods policy through the Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD).

  1. Serialisation is the big issue in food & beverage

Serialisation, serialisation, serialisation. People can’t talk about this enough when it comes to food & beverage, and obviously it’s a topic that close to our hearts here at Matthews too.

Serialisation is also a crucial issue in healthcare, and the industry has long been leading the charge when it comes to serialisation. In food & beverage however, businesses still aren’t taking advantage of it as they could. With the growth in goods exports, the time has come for businesses to apply serialisation for better traceability and authenticity. After all, protecting consumer safety and brand integrity should be priorities for every business.

(Want to learn more about serialisation? Find out why you need to get things in order, and the things you need to know to implement it.)

Final thoughts

Across all industries, there was a genuine interest in what the latest technologies are that can be exploited to enhance efficiency, quality and traceability in the supply chain. The spotlight is on any emerging technology over and above CRM and ERP systems, such as drones, robots, robotic drones, and anything to do with artificial intelligence. (You may find this blog on how next-generation robots are transforming manufacturing interesting.)

Our favourite presentation was by Charlie Macdonald from Telstra, who talked about the different types of organisations that are really innovating with business models.

Rather than conforming to the way it’s always been done, people today are creating their own supply chains. In the United States, for example, there’s been a rollout of a delivery-locker concept, whereby orders are placed in secure storage units, often in a Staples (which sells office stationery and furniture) or 7-Eleven store. Ride-sharing company Uber has just launched its same-day delivery program “UberRush” in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.

As a result, we need to constantly look at the changes in what consumers and innovative companies are doing and ask: what is the impact on the supply chain?

Because if there’s one thing we can take away from GS1 Supply Chain Week, it’s that those things that were previously holding back change in the industry are now starting to propel it forward. And that’s a truly exciting prospect. One thing that won’t hold back the supply chain is 3D printing; check out this piece on how 3D printing could completely restructure supply chains, improve customisation, push the boundaries of innovation and speed-up manufacturing.

Did you attend GS1 Supply Chain Week in 2015? What were your key learnings, favourite speakers and best sessions attended? Let us know in the comments below!

Trent Munro

Trent Munro

Product Manager, Coding Technologies at Matthews Australasia
Trent Munro is an accomplished business strategist, marketing innovator and speaker specialising in business development and optimisation. Over the past 15 years, he has worked across a range of blue-chip and medium enterprises including Goodyear Automotive, Clariant, Corona Manufacturing and Matthews Australasia. Trent holds a range of postgraduate and graduate qualifications in Commerce, Psychology, Project Management and Science. At Matthews Australasia, he has overseen market development locally and abroad, launching class leading traceability and automation technologies across manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.

by Trent Munro

Trent Munro is an accomplished business strategist, marketing innovator and speaker specialising in business development and optimisation. Over the past 15 years, he has worked across a range of blue-chip and medium enterprises including Goodyear Automotive, Clariant, Corona Manufacturing and Matthews Australasia. Trent holds a range of postgraduate and graduate qualifications in Commerce, Psychology, Project Management and Science. At Matthews Australasia, he has overseen market development locally and abroad, launching class leading traceability and automation technologies across manufacturing, healthcare and logistics.

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