Yossi Sheffi: “People can interpret the context of events”

Yossi Sheffi

Four industrial revolutions have already hugely altered the role of humans within chains of production, and roles will once again change or disappear due to artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. The challenge is to make supply chains function in such a way that humans and machines create synergy, but the magic formula has not yet been found, according to supply chain guru Yossi Sheffi in his book called ‘The Magic Conveyor Belt’, which was published in March. “We need to harness AI, robotics, Internet of Things and all the other technology to improve the well-being of all humanity.”

Sheffi’s book starts with a historical overview of the supply chain management discipline. How did it originate? What were the game changers? He vividly explains how evolutions in transportation, communication (EDI, the internet) and visibility (GPS, track & trace) made it possible for companies to outsource their entire production to countless suppliers in other countries around the world. Sheffi, who has been linked to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for nearly 50 years and currently leads the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, conveys his sense of wonder at all the links that interact seemingly effortlessly in global supply chains despite any central control.

He presents various interesting facts and figures illustrating the impact of these ‘magic conveyor belts’ on the well-being of the world population: not only thanks to the wide availability of affordable food and other goods, but also thanks to the millions of jobs the supply chain sector has created: from truck drivers to logistics managers, and from factory workers to supply chain directors. The book shows how those roles have evolved over the years and how – as a result of AI, robotics and Industry 4.0-related developments – they will continue to evolve in the future. This leads to optimism – after all, there is a huge talent shortage – but also to some concerns. Which jobs will disappear, and how to prepare for that, is one of the main themes of the book. … … …

Want to read more?

SCM Q3 2023

Get your digital subscription of 
Supply Chain Movement No. 50 Q3, 2023 now! >>