3 Inspiring TED Talks About the Supply Chain Industry

May 6, 2020 | Industry

TED Talks have a unique way of energizing, educating, and inspiring us – all in a short amount of time. Thought leaders from all around the world have shared their ideas and expertise in these free videos that cover just about every topic under the sun.

In this article, we have compiled a few of our favorite TED Talks as they relate to the supply chain industry. Whether you’re wondering what the future might have in store for the supply chain in general or you’re searching for concrete ideas to propel your logistics business forward, these TED Talks are sure to give you plenty of food for thought!

The Future of Delivery in our New On-Demand Economy

While not all of the predictions in this video have come true just yet, it remains a fascinating 11-minute glimpse into the ways that futuristic technology can have a transformative impact on the global supply chain. From 3D printing to Hyperloop transportation and beyond, technological innovation is impacting the way we manufacture, transport, and warehouse goods.

In perhaps the most poignant part of his talk, TED speaker Alan Amling predicted that the “On-Demand Manufacturing Cloud”, spurred by the growing availability of 3D printing, would incite an instrumental shift in the global economy, enabling us to reduce the time, cost, and carbon associated with making and moving goods around the globe.

We can easily draw parallels to current times, where amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are now seeing small businesses and individuals – even young students – stepping up to use their 3D printers for the production of vital medical equipment such as masks and visors, right where they are needed most.

Why we Need to Move Manufacturing Off-Planet

Trains, planes… rocket ships? Is the sky literally the limit when it comes to the future of the supply chain? Energy, fuels, metals, and water are limited here on Earth, but they are available in nearly infinite quantities in the solar system.

In this eye-opening TED Talk, speaker James Orsulak speculates about what would happen if there was a way we could use the limitless resources available in the Universe to preserve the precious ecosystem here on Earth. He surmises, “Imagine if you walked outside one day and there were no factories, no power plants, no refineries, no oil rigs, no pipelines to protest, and instead we simply allowed the planet to return to a more natural state, we intentionally stabilized our environment. We’d have more space here on Earth, more room for the population, because we’re not trying to live on top of our consumable resource base.”

This is a pretty futuristic hypothesis, but it’s awe-inspiring to think that the world of cross-border logistics might someday be extended to include interplanetary logistics. It’s definitely a TED Talk that will get your imagination going.

4 Ways to Build a Human Company in the Age of Machines

From automation to artificial intelligence, there is no question that technology is shaping every aspect of the supply chain industry. Whether you’re a freight forwarder, a warehouse operator, or a 3PL, you are undoubtedly keeping a close watch on how supply chain software and hardware innovations can be used to your benefit. You might also be concerned about how robots, machine learning, and other technologies are putting human jobs on the line.

The truth is, humans are as important as ever in building a successful, sustainable supply chain business. How, then, can businesses keep their humanity among all the technology? Speaker Tim Leberecht shares some actionable strategies in this clip and concludes, “In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need a new radical humanism. We must acquire and promote a new aesthetic and sentimental education. Because if we don’t, we might end up feeling like aliens in organizations and societies that are full of smart machines that have no appreciation whatsoever for the unnecessary, the intimate, the incomplete and definitely not for the ugly.”

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