Virtual panel of experts: supply chain dilemmas

Digitalization, globalization and sustainability are forcing companies to make choices. Privacy seems to be at odds with transparency and visibility. Supply Chain Media asked a number of supply chain directors for their reactions to some topical statements.

By Martijn Lofvers and Marysa Vos

Statement 1:
A complete focus on supply chain digitalization in order to reduce the physical chain eliminates the need to pay extra attention to sustainability.

Stef van Haaren, General Manager Supply Chain & General Affairs at Nikon:

“Sustainability remains important. Digitalization is gobbling electricity and will have a big impact on energy consumption and energy supplies, and goods flows will continue to be important until the day that products can actually be produced in consumers’ living rooms.”

Marcel van Rossum, Senior Director SC Strategy & Deployment at Johnson & Johnson:

“Actually, supply chain digitalization enables the next step in improving sustainability.”

Mark van Abeelen, Director Strategy & Business Excellence at Ricoh Europe SCM:

“The focus on digitalization can definitely play a big part in making the supply chain more sustainable, such as through electronic information exchange which supports the shift to a paperless document flow. Besides that, companies can optimize transport routes and hence reduce the number of physical movements thanks to supply chain transparency, real-time data sharing and artificial intelligence/machine learning. But we shouldn’t forget that further digitalization will also have an impact on sustainability by putting more pressure on the digital infrastructure and increasing the energy consumption.”

Statement 2:
Due to successful digitalization, emerging markets will be mature by 2030, resulting in globalization being superseded by primarily international supply chains per continent.

Jeroen van Weesep, Vice President Innovation in Operations at Lego Group Supply Chain:

“I largely agree with this statement. It is a great ambition to strive for, and it’s a positive outlook providing it is accompanied by the development of physical infrastructure. It is becoming easier to valorize emerging markets which is making this scenario more likely.”

Eugene Kersjes, Vice President Europe Supply Chain Management at Ricoh:

“Economies of scale per continent will undoubtedly diminish the need to globalize. However, I don’t believe that we will reach that point within the next ten years.”

Marcel van Rossum, Senior Director SC Strategy & Deployment at Johnson & Johnson:

“Supply chain digitalization could well play an unexpectedly beneficial role in the protectionism issue. Digitalization can make it possible to reroute the end-to-end value chain at short notice if an important link is suddenly no longer available due to protectionism.” … … …

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This article was first published in Supply Chain Movement 34 | Q3 – 2019