2022 SAPICS CONFERENCE OFFERS A PACKED PROGRAMME AND DIVERSE TOPICS RANGING FROM ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO HUMAN HAIR EXTENSIONS

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The 2022 SAPICS Conference for supply chain professionals will offer an array of presentations covering diverse topics extending from artificial intelligence (AI) to human hair extensions. This year’s event – the first in-person SAPICS Conference since the start of the pandemic – features a packed programme covering subjects ranging from automation, blockchain, e-commerce, digitisation and machine learning, to beauty, border control, food security, pharmaceuticals, ship building, sustainability and vaccine distribution.

Now in its 44th successful year, the annual SAPICS Conference is Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals. Hosted by SAPICS, The Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, it takes place from 12 to 15 June 2022 at Century City Conference Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

Latest technology impacting supply chains

The SAPICS Conference has always provided an unrivalled platform for the African supply chain community to discover, debate and evaluate the latest technology impacting supply chains. This year is no different. According to SAPICS 2022 opening keynote speaker Johan Steyn, AI may not replace humans, but it may replace supply chain managers who are not skilled in this technology. Steyn is a smart automation and AI thought leader and management consultant. He is the chair of the Special Interest Group on AI and Robotics with the IITPSA (Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa). He says that technological advancements will have a significant impact on supply chain management, with AI changing how tasks are autonomously delivered and controlled. “AI is on its way to becoming more than just a tool for automating repetitive tasks. In the near future, there will be a significant increase in projects to implement AI-based supply chain platforms. The supply chain community will play a vital role and supply chain professionals must hone their skills in this field,” he stresses. Steyn’s SAPICS presentation will imagine supply chain management in 10 years and examine the trajectory of technological innovation – from wearables and the Metaverse to the brain-computer interface. He will outline the promise and pitfalls of smart technological projects in business and share his insights on how the supply chain community can prepare itself for the future.

Lives depend on healthcare supply chains, but technology challenges abound in developing African countries, according to 2022 SAPICS Conference presenter David Crewe-Brown. He says that many African Ministries of Health are dependent on donor funded supply chain technology implementations that usually centre around Open Source technologies. “These implementations are very focused on achieving critical and sustainable objectives like COVID-19 vaccine distribution, for example, but the technologies often have a very narrow functional scope. While these technologies are scalable in terms of volume of information processed and allow seamless integration with peer systems, they do not provide countries with the means to advance beyond the transactional and into more advanced disciplines such as predictive and prescriptive analytics and end to end value chain optimisation,” says Crewe-Brown, who is the general manager of Vitalliance, South Africa. He will examine these issues and share solutions to the problems in his SAPICS Conference presentation entitled “Accelerating Supply Chain Maturity in Developing African Countries”.

Leveraging digitisation and automation to break down the barriers of cross border freight movements is the subject of a presentation by solutions architect Anton Eccles of Global Trade Solutions. “As companies increasingly look to take back control of cross border freight movements and insource the process through improved digitisation and automation strategies, the trend is to ‘work smarter, not harder’. The automation of manual processes through enabling technology such as blockchain allows companies to achieve a paperless environment with full customs compliance documentation traceability in the event of a SARS audit,” he says. In his SAPICS presentation, Eccles offers practical examples of how leading South African companies are leveraging niche systems to allow for expedited cross border freight by automating what was traditionally an inefficient and time-consuming process.

Insights on how blockchain is transforming Africa’s USD7 billion hair extensions sector and its power to repair the continent’s broken and fragmented supply chains will be shared by 2022 SAPICS Conference speaker Shadrack Kubyane, who is known as Africa’s blockchain baron.

Leveraging the right data

The “Smart Data Revolution and Real Time Visibility” is the topic of a presentation by Carsten Schubert, chief operating officer at Transnova, South Africa, and Jochum Reuter, general manager and VP of Strategic Alliances at FourKites in the Netherlands. “Leveraging the right data to make quick, well-informed decisions is the key to success in supply chain and logistics today,” Schubert states. “Real-time visibility into the location of goods or assets being moved, whether by road, rail, ocean or air, is a key priority for customers. Today’s logistics transformation teams are more data driven than ever before with end-to-end real-time visibility no longer a value add. Customers are now demanding it. With the rise of AI and machine learning, new advances in real-time visibility such as dynamic ETAs (that can automatically factor in over 150 different real-time and historical indicators such as weather and traffic) are now possible.” Schubert and Reuter’s SAPICS presentation will share best practices from around the globe and show what is possible with a data-driven real-time visibility strategy. It features real life examples from industry leaders including AB InBev, Coca-Cola and Henkel.

Building supply chain resilience

Supply chain disruptions and building supply chain resilience are also in the spotlight in the presentation by Brian Chikwava, supply chain researcher at Victoria University Business & Law School in Australia “Most business leaders are curious about how and why some companies adapt well to the devastating effects of supply chain disruptions whereas others do not. Building supply chain resilience takes time. This session provides some insights into this conundrum, diving into the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessitated approaches to supply chain resilience,” outlines Chikwava. “Traditional strategies have proven inadequate, so it now time to fight new wars with new strategies,” he stresses. 

The COVID-19 crisis fuelled unprecedented growth in e-commerce. The question of whether traditional retailers can compete with pure-play retailers will be discussed in a presentation by Jan Tukker, managing director of BusinessChain, South Africa. “Pure-play retailers like Takealot have been able to establish their online selling channel very quickly, putting pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers, which have a much more complex environment considering that all their processes were established to serve physical stores.,” Tukker notes. “This presentation exposes learnings from major brick and mortar retailers around the globe. It will reveal how they have added online channels into their systems, processes and structures. The journey to becoming a multichannel retailer is complex but brick and mortar retailers have some advantages enabling them to compete with their exceptionally agile pure-play competitors,” Tukker contends.

How organisations compare to Amazon

Global e-commerce giant Amazon features in the 2022 SAPICS Conference presentation by Arvind Sahay, regional head at FarEye, United Arab Emirates. Sahay will explore current supply chain challenges for retailers and how organisations compare to Amazon. His powerful presentation includes real life situations where a retailer listing is compared to Amazon for the same product, and how the retailer can win over Amazon.

The challenges of apparel, beauty and homeware supply chains compared to those for FMCG, food and pharmaceuticals will be discussed in a presentation by Gary Benatar, CEO of Relog, South Africa. “These are all very different supply chains from a planning, production, and delivery perspective. The criteria and constraints as well as the success and failure are measured differently. This presentation will address these differences as well as what makes the supply chain successful,” Benatar explains, adding that his presentation will examine both conventional and omni supply chains.

Purpose driven businesses and purpose driven people

In keeping with the theme of the 2022 SAPICS Conference, which is “Purpose Driven Supply Chains”, there are presentations examining purpose driven businesses and purpose driven people in supply chain planning. A joint presentation by Jacques Greef and Liesl de Wet of Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions, South Africa, will look at the role of culture, operational excellence and sustainability in creating a purpose driven business. Greef is the organisation’s chief operational excellence officer and Liesl de Wet is the head of Accelerated Organisational Sustainability. “In the 2021 Gartner report titled, ‘Purpose-Driven supply chains deliver value to stakeholders’, supply chains were highlighted as playing a critical role in enabling purpose through employee engagement, ecosystem collaborations and product portfolio offerings. This session will focus on the innovations in and the integration of operational excellence and sustainability to drive a purpose driven business that enhances employee engagement. It will look at the importance of an ongoing cycle of positive change and a sustainability programme that is incorporated into the culture of the business,” De Wet explains. “The objective of this session is to share how operational excellence unlocks tangible and intangible value through centralised operational control, continuous business improvement, centralised business intelligence and the optimisation of all strategic operating systems. It also outlines the role of people, culture and sustainability in a purpose driven business,” she expands.

In her SAPICS session, Zinola Moodley, Global Demand Planning Capability lead at Mondelez International, Singapore, will discuss the vital role played by purpose-driven people in planning.  She will share a case study on the capabilities being built at Mondelez to revolutionise its planning.

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