Going Digital – The Future of the Supply Chain Looks Bright
The term digital supply chain has a few different meanings… which are primarily based on who you ask.
In some cases, the digital supply chain relates to the movement of digital commodities. These goods include such things as online media, digital files, or products that customers download from the internet.
However, in the logistics world, the digital supply chain is a completely different ballgame.
So, what is the logistics version of the digital supply chain?
In the simplest terms, the digital supply chain features a series of automated systems or cloud-based solutions for managing freight movement.
This new type of supply chain management gives shippers a competitive advantage by significantly reducing mistakes often attributed to human error. The introduction of things like blockchain technology, wireless sensor networks, and GPS tracking has allowed logistics managers to fully automate their systems.
And that is pretty much the digital supply chain in a nutshell. Ready to dig a little deeper and learn more about how it works and what benefits it provides?
Let’s jump in!
Understanding the digital supply chain
There are two types of digital supply chains platforms; hybrid and full-digital.
The hybrid is a collaboration of paper and IT-based solutions. Whereas, the full-digital supply chain is completely internet based, with files and resources stored in a cloud-based platform.
The primary objective of a digital supply chain is to provide better insights into the movement of commodities. In turn, this helps to eliminate waste, improve operational efficiency, enhance customer service, and increase profit margins.
The modern digital supply chain can be configured for the individual needs of any industry. These industries include but are not limited to manufacturing, retail, distribution, and transportation. These online platforms can monitor multiple data points including customer interaction, inventory levels, carrier location, real-time delivery notifications, and other vital areas of concern.
The digital supply chain involves the use of multiple hardware solutions. A well-rounded system makes use of GPS tracking software and devices, radiofrequency identification (RFID), barcodes, wireless sensor networks, and other location-based data.
All the information collected gets organized and stored in highly secure cloud-based systems. They are scalable, configurable to personal taste, and always customized for each independent business.
What technologies are used in a digital supply chain?
A complete digital supply chain involves multiple, individual technologies that work seamlessly together. A few of these technologies include:
When it comes to online data, the most important attribute for any professional company is safety and security.
Using the same technology that powers Bitcoin, 3PLs typically design the digital supply chain platforms using blockchain technology. Blockchain provides the best processes for collecting data instantly, improving customer engagement, improving transparency, and wrapping it all up in a neat and secure package.
AI & Internet of Things
Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the digital supply chain.
Companies harness this technology to track shipments from the point of origin, throughout its movement, and eventually to its destination. It can remedy unexpected situations, such as traffic delays, construction, weather, or customer updates on availability.
Furthermore, through the use of IoT, these systems can be further expanded and connect to other devices and platforms. When every device in your warehouse can seamlessly ‘speak’ to one another, it remedies a lot of human error.
Big data is more than just a buzzword, it’s a way of life in the supply chain.
Everyone from manufacturers to retailers depends on what we call big data to make decisions that impact their daily operations. Big data analytics are used in the digital supply chain to simplify the collection of multiple data points, organize it, and then create a report that is easy to understand, and customized for the end-user.
Having these vital software solutions accessible via the cloud streamlines the process of scheduling, rating, and tracking deliveries from multiple carriers. It allows an organization to review the success of each delivery, improve performance, and review each carrier to ensure they are operating with service levels that you and your customers expect.
Furthermore, cloud-based platforms are the most secure way to store your sensitive data. It also allows companies to keep everything centralized in a non-physical location, away from potential damage. Because of that, the companies data is never at risk of physical destruction or tampering.
The future of the logistics industry looks very bright thanks in part to emerging technologies. The ability to digitize and automate some of the more painstaking processes is nothing short of revolutionary.
We have seen this technology grow over the last 5 years or so. Therefore it is a revolution that we have anticipated for quite some time. With each passing year, new processes and ways of understanding certain concepts spring up, and the logistics industry is that much better for it.
If you are thinking of harnessing the power of digitization in your own supply chain, reach out to us here at Redwood Logistics. We can help you get all the pieces into place, without any of the stress of doing it on your own.