Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for the supply chain profession, the annual SAPICS Conference, kicks off next week. While this year’s event is online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers have announced that it will still feature the same powerful mix of presentations and host of acclaimed international and South African speakers that it has since it was established 41 years ago.

Topics that will be covered range from artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and the circular economy, to diversity, ethical leadership, risk management and youth development. “The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the vital role that supply chains play in the global economy. Skills development, learning, knowledge sharing, and networking are more important than ever for the supply chain profession, and we need professional, suitably qualified supply chain professionals now more than ever,” comments SAPICS president Keabetswe Mpane.

She says that SAPICS 2020 will not be just another webinar. “In addition to an exceptional line up of speakers, there will be networking opportunities. From virtual booths to VIP meeting rooms, the ‘FLOOR’ virtual conferencing platform that we are using will enable delegates to meet fellow supply chain professionals from across industry and the world.” Mpane adds that SAPICS is delighted to have a number of leading organisations sponsoring the 2020 online conference, including SAP, CHEP, Blue Yonder and Netstar.

Known as the trust machine, blockchain is now on the agenda of the world’s leading organisations which are seeking to leverage the technology to increase transparency and collaboration across their business partner networks. According to SAPICS 2020 presenter, Professor Justin Goldston of Penn State University in the USA, blockchain offers a solution to the growing threat of “greenwashing”.

This term refers to companies who falsely claim that their products and processes are more environmentally friendly than they are. “As stories of greenwashing continue to emerge within the supply chain space, blockchain could be a potential solution to provide visibility to the life cycle of products,”Goldston asserts. In his SAPICS presentation, he will look at ways in which the technology’s track and trace capabilities could be used to ensure more sustainable supply chain networks.

With the increasing interdependence and fragility of global supply chains, the circular economy offers a far-reaching solution to improving supply chain resilience. This is the word from circularity specialist Deborah Dull, Principal Supply Chain at General Electric Digital in the USA. Her 2020 SAPICS Conference presentation will introduce delegates to the idea of circularity and the circular economy as the next strategy for supply chains. Dull will explore how more value can be squeezed from the materials and resources already in an organisation’s supply chain.

“Future-Proofing Supply Chains for Risk and Resilience” is the topic of the conference presentation by Dr John Gattorna, one of the world’s pre-eminent supply chain thought leaders. Based in Sydney, Australia, Gattorna has helped to shape the thinking, understanding and practice of logistics and supply chain management globally for more than 40 years. He says that organisations aiming to survive current and future supply chain disruptions must redesign their supply chains, with dynamic rather than static capabilities.

“Previous supply chain designs have predominantly followed a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy, on the assumption that this will deliver a lower ‘cost-to-serve’,” he notes. “However, as the operating environment has become increasingly complex and turbulent, this assumption has been exposed as flawed.”

Most employee surveys reveal that people are continually feeling overworked and overloaded, and that they do not have the right balance between their lives and their work. Work life balance is the subject of a presentation by award winning speaker, Temitope Ogunfayo, who is Associate Director, Supply Network Operations, Babycare (IMEA) at Procter & Gamble, Switzerland. In his presentation, he will share simple, proven strategies to help SAPICS Conference attendees maintain a healthy work life balance.

Panel discussions are an integral part of the annual SAPICS Conference, and this year will be no different. Compelling panel discussions on the programme include one on diversity in the supply chain and procurement field. Leading supply chain specialists from South Africa, Africa and the United States will look at what needs to change to break the glass ceiling in the profession.

The value of public and private sector partnerships in improving healthcare supply chains will also be under the spotlight at the 2020 online SAPICS Conference. A panel discussion will highlight success stories and reveal how the public and private sectors are currently working together to improve health outcomes for all.

The 42nd annual SAPICS Conference takes place on 23 and 24 November 2020. For further information or to register for this year’s online event, call 011 023 6701 or email info@SAPICS.org.za. Up-to-the-minute information is also posted on the SAPICS website: www.sapics.org.za