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Atlanta’s New Supply Chain Innovation Center Promises to Tackle Industry Pain Points

The global supply chain has become more complicated and integrated in a range of industrial sectors, driven by the need for speed and efficiency, with technological innovation acting as a catalyst.

Those factors are what’s behind Georgia-Pacific’s new Point A Center for Supply Chain Innovation, where it hopes to bring together leading supply chain companies to develop new methods and solutions.

Opening next month in an initial 15,000-square-foot space at Atlanta’s TechSquare Labs, Georgia-Pacific’s Point A Center for Supply Chain Innovation will serve as a collaborative space for businesses ranging from multi-national corporations to emerging startups and academic institutions.

Georgia-Pacific said it is investing $5 million to $7 million in the overall center and has begun recruiting members. Among the first member organizations to offer their capabilities and expertise are Chick-fil-A, Delta Air Lines, Genuine Parts Co., Grainger, Siemens, as well as Georgia-Pacific’s parent company Koch Industries, which also owns the textile fiber and chemical company Invista.

Point A’s members will explore use cases for applying Industry 4.0 innovations like robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and autonomous vehicles–all key areas for development in the textile, apparel and retail logistics and fulfillment operations. The center is expected to tackle some of the supply chain’s most pressing challenges, including retail models, network efficiency and data visibility.

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The 2018 Retail Supply Chain Report published earlier this month by Teknowlogi stressed the importance of technology for retailers to achieve the correct balance in inventory management, with 56 percent of respondents to an executive survey noting inventory management as a top priority, followed by warehouse management systems and forecasting at 50 percent each.

“Now more than ever before, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on digitalization, automation and advanced analytics in plants and warehouses,” Kevin Heath, Georgia-Pacific senior vice president and chief procurement officer, said. “Supply chain leaders are trying to unlock the potential of current and future technologies, and we believe collaborating with the best minds will help drive innovation at a faster pace.”

Georgia-Pacific said it plans to move Point A into a dedicated 23,000-square-foot space within its downtown GP Center headquarters building in the next couple of years. Also on the drawing board is an additional 30,000 square feet of warehouse space for proof-of-concept testing.

“The pressure for business transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity, but there’s no wait-and-see,” Christian Fischer, Georgia-Pacific president and CEO, said. “Point A will focus on solutions in the supply chain that will ultimately serve customers faster and more reliably, as well as provide a superior brand experience for an end-consumer.”

Beyond its benefits for supply-chain-focused companies, Point A will bolster Atlanta’s position as #SupplyChainCity that sees the transformation of the city’s physical supply chain assets into a digital ecosystem powered by the Internet of Things.

“We see Point A as a chance to demonstrate how the state’s technology resources can be an asset for supply-chain-driven companies and an opportunity to leverage Georgia’s unique competitive advantage in logistics infrastructure,” said Matt Markham, director of the Center of Innovation for Logistics at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.