Conference brinGS1 knowledge

More than 350 people attended GS1 Australia’s premier supply chain event, Impetus 2008, held in Melbourne in October, to hear from supply chain experts and industry leaders.

Topics covered ranged from EPC/RFID and data synchronisation, to supply chains of the future, and how to ensure supply chains had a light carbon footprint.

Wal-Mart Stores director of EPC strategies, Simon Langford, urged Australian businesses to begin implementing EPC/RFID technologies to deliver efficiencies. “The technology is proven and can deliver benefits. Pilot, learn and share your learning with others,” he said.

For US supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets, data synchronisation with their trading partners brought a range of business benefits as well as delivering new and better ways of working together.

Wegmans director of B2B, Marianne Timmons, told Impetus 2008 that data synchronisation using the GS1 standards had opened a whole new way of employees working together.

“We found we had synchronised data and we had synchronised people. Our employees could collectively agree on goals and measures and there was a new level of communication within our company and with our trading partners. Now the information we share is timely, useful and accurate,” she said.

The supply chains of the future were also a focus at Impetus 2008. Delegates heard from a range of supply chain experts about the challenges facing supply chain professionals in the 21st century, from preparing for a pandemic, to implementing strategies and to ensuring supply chains have a lighter carbon footprint in the future.

University of Melbourne’s Peter Dapiran told the conference that while predicting the future was error prone, supply chain structures would change dramatically as result of social forces, behaviour and technology.

Flexibility and responsiveness would be critical in future supply chains and the way information would be collected, stored, managed and disseminated will change beyond current comprehension, he said. In addition, sustainability will lead to redefinition of total cost and bring about radically different sourcing decisions.

GS1 Australia CEO, Maria Palazzolo, said the conference had highlighted that greater collaboration in the supply chain and the implementation of the GS1 standards were clearly the way forward. “In conclusion, there are two questions businesses need to ask themselves: ‘Can I afford to do it?’ and ‘Can I afford not to do it?’,” she said.

Critical issues for future supply chain professionals:

  • increasing efficiency to cut costs in supply chains,
  • managing risk in supply chains,
  • balancing efficiency and risk,
  • ensuring on-shelf availability through greater collaboration between trading partners,
  • collaborative logistics and warehousing,
  • creating greater transparency to enable flexible supply chains, and
  • ensuring future supply chains are carbon-neutral.
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