Editorial: Innovation in Logistics will Drive SC Recovery
Guest Contribution by Susie Shannon, President & CEO of SC Council on Competitiveness
What’s driving our economy right now? Innovation in Logistics.
What will be key to driving our recovery? You guessed it — Innovation in Logistics.
Lately, it seems that every day presents new challenges and opportunities to figure out what it looks like to work from home during a global crisis. But while I’m sorting that out with a view from my couch, it’s impossible not to think of a few of those who are out working on the front lines for us: healthcare workers, retailers and grocers, and the truckers who move needed products to all of them on behalf of all of us.
Dealing with the disruption caused by coronavirus has exposed the fault lines in both our work and home lives from the profound to the simple — Who and what are essential; can our innovative and transformative ideas withstand a predicted downturn; and, notably, have we been taking the availability of toilet paper for granted all our lives?
But, at the same time, this crisis has revealed an often-shrouded hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship that has always glimmered as a key part of our everyday lives in the best of times, but now beams in an even more critical role during these worst of times: Innovation in Logistics and our supply chain economy.
Wait, Logistics? Yes, Logistics, but more innovatively-powerful than most people ever considered before, with the current crisis highlighting the important role moving “stuff” plays in our everyday life: Transporting life-saving medical supplies, stocking bags of rice in grocery stores, and keeping our bathrooms comfortably full of toilet paper. Artificial intelligence isn’t just at the heart of telling Siri or Alexa to order the next shipment of dog food. For instance, AI is taking photos of cargo using special cameras to identify damage and identify an appropriate corrective action while products are en route, thereby saving companies time and money. Autonomous vehicles aren’t just for Tesla lovers; during the pandemic crisis, grocers are using autonomous robots to deliver groceries for contactless orders to neighborhood customers. From digital marketplaces, to Smart Data, to predictive hiring, and robotics and automation, Logistics develops and deploys the best in technology and innovation to make sure our just-in-time economy can deliver what we need, when we need it.
From Supply Chain to Demand Chain
Getting what we need – and when we need it — requires both art and science. That’s what the SC Council on Competitiveness and its many partners do to promote Logistics every day, from supporting our trucking partners to encouraging the latest-and-greatest in tech. South Carolina’s Logistics economy and companies are moving faster than we ever have before, even in the midst of the traffic jam that this public health crisis has caused.
Where do we see it? In homegrown SC-based logistics companies, of course:
- ShipChain is using blockchain documents so that every player in the supply chain – from start to finish – has down-to-the moment data to prevent and identify problems that could snarl the supply chain.
- TrueLoad Time is determining average wait times at shipper and receiver locations so that companies can make smart decisions to make deliveries fast instead of waiting in endless lines.
- Fast Fetch is improving the speed and accuracy of piece-picking to create a revolutionary system for order fulfillment.
That’s just a small sampling of how Logistics companies are delivering for our economy, but it’s only the beginning. In these uncertain times, one thing is clear: returning our lives to normal will require even mo