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Supply chain digitalisation fosters efficiency in future cities, say experts at AIM Congress

Supply chain digitalisation fosters efficiency in future cities, say experts at AIM Congress
10 May 2024 09:59

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

The significance of urbanisation for the future of humanity gained prominence on the last day of the AIM Congress held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.


Delivering a keynote speech, Dr. Erfan Ali, Chief of Staff of UN-Habitat, drew attention to the vital role of digital technology in contributing to future city development.


“The digitalisation of supply chains and the application of AI in urban areas carry the potential to make housing less emissive, public transport more efficient and attractive, and waste collection more systematic,” Dr. Ali said.


“Currently, almost 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and we anticipate that nearly 68% will be residing in urban areas by 2050. Therefore, our present and future lie in urban areas, “ he added.


Also on Thursday, experts discussed potential solutions and best practices for supply chain digitalisation for a better urban life during a panel session.


The session titled “Fostering Efficiency in Future Cities: Paving the Way for Supply Chain Digital Transformation”, moderated by Erdinc Ekinci, Co-founder and CEO/Managing Director at Openfor.co Inc., asserted the prominence of digitalisation in supply chains.


“Our goal is to provide actionable insights and collaborative strategies for navigating the complexities of the digital supply chain for a better urban life,” Ekinci said.


During the discussion, Mall Kikas, Director of Business Development, at Exponaut, said that  digitalisation, is primarily a challenge due to data fragmentation, but it also offers significant time and effort savings for the logistics supply chain.


For instance, “some processes still rely on paper documents, which are then digitised. This results in a significant amount of manual labour. The same data is often duplicated multiple times, leading to digital waste. By minimising this duplication, we could reduce digital waste by at least 70%. It means that data can be repurposed throughout the ordering and delivery process,” she said.


For Martin Yates, Senior Government Technology Advisor at Presight G42, digitalisation in the supply chain is crucial for addressing global issues. It helps reduce waste, pollution, and improve cost efficiency.


“The digitalisation of the supply chain is arguably one of the most critical aspects we need to focus on. It addresses truly global, city, and national challenges. Effective digital transformation in the supply chain significantly enhances sustainability efforts,” Yates expressed.


He noted that stakeholder collaboration is essential for creating a win-win scenario in cities.
“I think that true success will come when organisations truly trust each other and share data between them because very often, much of the best information that can improve things is already within us. This collaboration will be the driver of transformation and business efficiency.”


Also speaking, Mark Skljarov, CEO of WasteLocker,  said that one crucial aspect that needs integration into the supply chain is not only the pre-consumption phase of products produced and delivered to customers but also the post-consumption phase. “This includes managing the waste generated, which has the potential to be turned into secondary raw materials,” Skljarov said.
Agreeing with Yates, he underscored the importance of unifying stakeholders to understand the origins and waste of products.


Speaking to Aletihad, Skljarov highlighted the potential of IoT, AI, and machine learning in reducing global waste generation and urban mining, intensifying the necessity for zero waste solutions.


“As someone who is focusing on zero waste and sustainable waste management within cities, I truly see the potential for zero waste solutions with IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Utilising image analysis can essentially make waste flows sustainable inside the city, reducing waste impact and facilitating urban mining,” he said.


Skljarov said that technology is crucial for tackling global waste. “The importance of the technology lies in the fact that by the year 2050, there will be 3.4 billion tonnes of waste generated globally.

Additionally, by the same year, more than 70% of the population will be living in cities. This means that the majority of waste will be generated within urban areas. There is also a significant monetary aspect to consider. Globally, the average cost to pick up and collect one tonne of waste is about $100.”

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