Today’s companies face unprecedented challenges. On top of managing the unwieldy demands placed on the supply chain this year during a public health crisis, companies also face globalization as well as the specialized demands of increasingly complex products. To respond to these challenges, companies are looking for ways to leverage technology along the supply chain to collect data, drive automation, create efficiencies and reduce costs.
Here are five technologies that can be used to gain competitive advantage along the supply chain:
1. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) makes just-in-time manufacturing more efficient and effective by allowing companies to keep a closer eye on logistics through enhanced connectivity. Manufacturers and transportation companies can utilize IoT to support operations and production, eliminate misplaced inventory and lost shipments, or to monitor freight and fleets more effectively.
Did you know that blockchain can be used for more than just cryptocurrencies? It can be quite effective in improving visibility and bringing a higher level of transparency to the supply chain. Blockchain is all about the idea of immutability. When used in the supply chain, blockchain creates permanent records that can never be lost or altered. This technology can be quite effective when used to track goods as they change hands or to share supplier information, especially in situations where trust is still being established.
Because of the immutable records it creates, blockchain is more effective at creating an audit trail than traditional methods. For blockchain to be effective, however, it must be used by all parties along the supply chain. If your industry uses blockchain, you can leverage it to stay compliant, create transparency, mitigate risk and prevent loss – all of which contribute to your competitive advantage.
3. AI, Machine Learning & Analytics
The data along the supply chain is monstrous in volume and rich in competitive insight. Companies are learning to better leverage mountains of data through artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive analytics. Companies use these capabilities to automate warehouse operations, improve delivery times and better manage inventory. Strategic sourcing and real-time product intelligence make for a highly agile company that can respond quickly to complex demands.
4. Robotics and Automation
Robotics have long been used to create efficiencies in the supply chain. Although the use of robots is not new, these technologies are becoming more sophisticated through the application of artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT. These modern business tools are coming together to significantly improve robotic capabilities, including increased collaboration between humans and the robots themselves. As a result, companies are seeing benefits like increased warehouse capacity, optimized storage and shorter work processing time. Additionally, robotics can help address talent gaps in supply chain skills.
5. 3D Printing
Consumers love personalization. To keep up with this fact, manufacturers are responding to the ever-increasing made-to-order demand through localized production. 3D printing is a big driver in fulfilling on-demand production. 3D printing affords several benefits to the supply chain. For one, production is decentralized so that both parts and products can be made locally. This cuts production time and reduces the costs of logistics and transportation. In turn, this can reduce a company’s carbon footprint and get products in the hands of consumers much faster. The result is enhanced customer experience through the satisfaction of the large consumer appetite for instant gratification.
Are you optimizing supply chain technology?
While the demands on the supply chain are becoming more complex, the good news is that effective use of technology can take your business to the next level. Our technology team can help you evaluate supply chain improvement and build a strategy to keep you competitive.
Ready to learn more? Contact us.