No one can deny the importance of the supply chain in an industrial facility. Not only does supply chain determine the efficiency of distribution, but it also determines the quality of the products customers buy. A key component of productivity, the management of the supply chain has changed drastically over the years. One of the biggest changes that have seen in supply chain management (SCM) in recent times is the use of modern technology. The technology is being adopted to make the processes in the supply chain more efficient and transparent.
The Technological Revolution in Supply Chain
Despite the rapid improvements enabled by these disruptive technologies, many companies are still reluctant to adopt them for managing their supply chains. What these companies fail to realize is that the future of SCM will be enabled by robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and other intelligent technologies.
However, we can give these companies some benefit of the doubt since many of the new supply chain technologies are either too expensive or too complicated to be adopted ‘right now’. Nonetheless, organizations everywhere need to keep their eyes open for innovative and disruptive technologies that can potentially change how supply chain management is performed in the future.
These technologies are improving supply chains worldwide by ensuring better visibility and tracking, real-time monitoring of the supply chain, and its integration with mobile technologies such as smartphones, GPS devices, tablets, and other portable devices used in SCM. All this is helping to enable the following benefits:
- A lower cost of operation
- Reduced errors leading to improved efficiency
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
So, we know all about the capabilities and benefits enabled by innovations in supply chain management. What we don’t know yet are the innovative technologies that are making this happen. However, that is about to change as we reveal the top 4 supply chain innovations to watch out for in 2019. So, let’s begin.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enabled Supply Chain Technology
Many of the supply chain challenges can be potentially solved with artificial intelligence (AI). Today, several things need to be accomplished by logistics operations. This includes analyzing data variables in the millions and managing different supply chain processes in real-time and end-to-end. The good news is that all this can be made easy with AI-enabled transportation management systems (TMS). These systems can provide recommendations for logistical and business situations by assessing and analyzing different options. Despite this, just over 30% of surveyed supply chain executives said they experimented with artificial intelligence (AI). Over 45% said that they were not using the technology at all. With AI innovations in supply chain is still in its infancy, companies delaying their use will miss out on a lot of competitive advantages enabled by improved and real-time decision-making.
2. Radio Technology
The increased irregularities in the orders in transit are one of the biggest headaches for supply chain managers everywhere. Not only do these increased anomalies result in losses, but they also bring a bad name to the brand. Not only do suppliers need to bear all the costs of a lost product, but they also need to bear the cost that result from the disruption. However, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can help to overcome this problem.
Using this technology, you can effectively track every product in the production line and supply chain. Chips placed on the items make this possible. Since they are able to track the items in real-time, employees can quickly identify any irregularities in an order. With RFID, you can solve irregularities in an order innovatively to prevent them from becoming a real headache and an added cost.
3. Warehouse Automation
To allow distributed control systems (DCs) to address the increasing demands, the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon University is collaborating with Honeywell Intelligrated to take robotic technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level. The purpose of the collaboration is to develop the next-gen architecture that can operate and control several robotic applications.
The solution introduced by Honeywell Intelligrated and Carnegie Mellon University makes the deployment of sophisticated robotics in unpredictable and dynamic environments practical. It does this by enabling critical decision-making capabilities with the use of machine learning (ML). This and other warehouse automation solutions are making it easier to manage complex tasks in the warehouse. These tasks include picking individual packets and unloading shipping containers.
The main barrier to the adoption of warehouse automation technologies will be the logistics and costs of implementation involved. However, these barriers can be overcome with cloud-based AI systems that are easy to deploy and have a variable cost.
4. Self-Service Logistics
Recently, Delivery Service Partners was launched by Amazon. It is a funding program aimed at helping people launch and operate their own Amazon logistics and delivery service. According to the company, owners that operate a fleet of up to forty delivery vehicles can earn a profit exceeding $300,000 per annum.
If Amazon is able to accomplish its goal, we could see small business owners in the hundreds employing tens of thousands of people for delivery across the U.S. To ensure success in achieving its objective, Amazon has pledged an amount equaling a million dollars to startups belonging to eligible military veterans who want to launch their own delivery business. Considering this, it will be only a matter of time before self-service logistics becomes a widely adopted innovation.
There are some other technologies as well that could potentially change SCM in 2019 and beyond. These include advanced weighing technology, autonomous vehicles, and the blockchain technology. To get insight into how these technologies could potentially change the supply chain, keep following me for more.
by Bobby J Davidson
We love our company and we love what we do. Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business! As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.
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