New technology has the potential to change and improve almost every facet of our lives and supply chain management is no different. In this article, we will examine five ways in which tech is transforming supply chain management.
1. Improved transparency
Consumers today are more socially and environmentally aware than ever. They want to know that each component of their order is ethically sourced. In industries like pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage, items must be tracked every step of the way – not just when they reach the next distribution centre.
The use of RFID tags along with geospatial data can help to ensure that goods are tracked from the source to the end-user. Additionally, sensors that measure everything from temperature to vibration can be used to monitor how goods are being handled.
2. Highly efficient automation
While automation is nothing new in supply chain management, it continues to advance at a rapid pace. Amazon, for example, uses quick and extremely agile robots that pick up entire racks of goods and bring them to human pickers to help fulfill orders.
Deliveries by drone and autonomous vehicles are already a reality and someday soon, they may even be commonplace.
3. Better use of big data
In the logistics and supply chain industry, there are seemingly countless variables to consider from warehouse conditions to weather, traffic, cargo weight, customer behaviour and more. Being able to compile and use this data is the best way to estimate delivery times, make decisions about inventory and packaging, and provide the best possible customer experience.
According to a study by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, 93 percent of shippers and 98 percent of third-party logistics firms believe that efficient use of big data and technology-driven decision making is vital to the industry.
More companies these days are providing wearables to their workers to assist in various tasks. Amazon, for example, provides their warehouse workers with electronic bracelets, which they can use to track items and update customer orders.
Another example of wearable technology for warehouse workers are augmented reality devices such as Google Glasses. These can be programmed for example to instantly count the number of boxes in view of the worker to make keeping track of inventory much simpler.
Another use of wearables is for commercial drivers. Wearable devices can be used to track the quality and quantity of their sleep, to ensure that they are alert enough to drive. Since an accident on the road can be extremely costly to a company both in terms of lost inventory as well as potential legal ramifications, investing in wearables for drivers can be a smart idea.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing has had a huge impact on the supply chain allowing business to be both the manufacturer and the retailer. With 3D printing, consumers can even customize smaller items. Items can be printed and shipped at the time of ordering, eliminating the need to store large inventories.
At Royal Supply Chain, we are always staying informed about the latest technology in supply chain management and adopting the technology we feel will most benefit our clients. For more information, contact us today.