2024 trends for supply chain

February 20, 2024

Zetes is an innovative supply chain technology company that has been providing advice to leading supply chain companies for over 30 years. According to Zetes, major topics in 2024 will be supply chain connectivity, sustainability and customer experience. These themes will also be an integral part of SIAL Talks this coming October.

Investing in digitalisation will help optimise agility, traceability and order fulfilment, which will make it easier to execute strategies like personalisation. “Green logistics” is high on the agenda as warehouse and T&L managers strive to reduce their carbon footprint and emissions efficiently. Data automation, collaborative automation and digital capability will help overcome challenges, including labour shortages, and achieve real-time end-to-end visibility. Zetes identifies 5 trends in 2024, and such topics will be explored during SIAL Talks at SIAL Paris 2024.

Collaborative automation

By 2030, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. These “digital natives” expect intuitive technology, including voice recognition, virtual assistants and augmented and virtual reality. Employers need to invest in a technology-rich environment to attract and retain talent, and collaborative automation will be key.

Empowering humans with technology encompasses robotics and automation, and technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables. Combining next-generation voice technology with data capture methods, such as scanning and radio frequency identification (RFID), facilitates hands-free working for optimum picking speed and performance. Collaborative warehouse technology ensures workers can focus on value-added tasks, rather than wasting effort on non-productive or repetitive activities. Future-focused warehouses are harnessing the movement capabilities of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR): EU member states installed almost 72,000 industrial robots in 2022, up by 6% year-on-year.

Smart factories

The smart factory is at the heart of Industry 4.0, the digitalisation of manufacturing. According to Zetes, by 2025, 80 to 100% of manufacturing could be using Internet of Things (IoT) applications; machines, sensors and other manufacturing devices connected and communicating through the internet. This real-time connection between the supply chain and the production line is essential to meet challenging customer demands for quality, authenticity, speed and customisation.

Increasing operational efficiency, capacity optimisation productivity and reducing bottlenecks in 2024 and beyond will be achieved through digital technologies at every touchpoint, from goods receiving, to packaging execution, to shipping verification. Eliminating paper-based processes, using advanced analytics and equipping workers with connected devices will enable real-time supply chain visibility, traceability, collaboration and issue resolution.


Manufacturers are facing mounting pressure from regulatory bodies and customers to optimise traceability at a granular level throughout a product’s entire lifecycle. Anti-counterfeit measures, inclusivity-related targets, product recall management and the EU DPP (digital product passport) are driving the need for product marking/labelling, serialisation, palletisation and information capture technologies.

The DPP, which should be introduced by 2026, serves to improve traceability of products along the value chain and facilitate the verification of product compliance. Traceability is also key for the circular economy, tracking and tracing raw materials and products from source to end of life including recycling. Big data is a critical component, enhanced by AI to identify patterns and trends in huge volumes. Therefore, data integrity and standardisation will be objectives for 2024.

Asset tracking

Track and trace is a growing trend, facilitating operational efficiencies, inventory management and minimising waste. Real-time location systems can pinpoint an asset on its journey throughout the supply chain, whether in a factory, warehouse, in transit or at its destination, and monitor conditions such as temperature. Each asset is fitted with technologies to be scanned at touch-points, including smart labels, 1D and 2D barcodes and RFID tags.

Tracking at crate or pallet level is important for valuable assets that are reusable/recyclable and for those requiring planned maintenance or washing. It also enables damaged assets to be located and repaired and to mitigate disputes. Next-generation solutions amalgamate and centralise real-time data, enhancing digitalisation and driving performance and accountability throughout the supply chain.

2024 trends for supply chain
SIAL Talks to look at logistics trends (Photo: https://www.sialparis.com/en/medias/media-library)


Initiatives such as the EU’s circular action plan and the European Green Deal are driving sustainability in the sector. 35% of retailers are aiming to work with more local supplier chains to lower operating costs.

Digitisation is necessary to accelerate sustainability, enabling real-time control, visibility and traceability and reducing paper usage. Managing product recall through traceability technologies can help reduce the impact of a recall by 50-95%, intercepting before products are written off as waste. Last mile optimisation is also a priority since this stage of the supply chain has the highest environmental impact. Technology solutions include electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) to improve last mile efficiency, flexibility and performance. Route and vehicle utilisation optimisation will reduce emissions, empty miles and repeat deliveries.

Improving sustainability and performance are focal points in 2024, bringing both business and environmental benefits. For these priorities to be realised, digitalisation, connectivity and real-time collaboration are key.

SIAL Talks will look at issues affecting the supply chain in detail. The format of the conferences of experts has over the years helped the agri-food industry better understand, analyse and debate the food scene of tomorrow, and to reflect the trends happening in the ecosystem (retail formats, innovative food processing solutions, environmental impact, etc.). Find more information on SIAL talks here.

(Top photo: https://www.zetes.com/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1300/public/2018-11/PIC%20Poiesz%20outbound_copyright%20Peter%20Gloudemans_L1060143.JPG?itok=owSWGFbn)

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