Most Integrated Supply Chain Technologies of 2020
As the supply chain and logistics industry prepare for the world post-COVID-19, companies that seek to stay ahead of the curve are pushing for an even more technologically integrated supply chain. The competitive advantage in this industry goes to those willing to implement the most innovative supply chain technologies available.
While some supply chain leaders may come across as reluctant or over-cautious when it comes to actually adopting new applications and technologies, the industry overall sees these tech advances as having huge potential long-term value.
Let’s take a look at some of the most integrated supply chain technologies of 2020.
The Internet of Things
First and foremost, the Internet of Things (IoT) has moved from being a new and cutting edge form of supply chain technology to more of a standard operating procedure. Costs have begun to fall as the technology matures, and the percentages of businesses using IoT devices have steadily climbed upward as a result.
The advantages of IoT technology are numerous as it allows organizations to monitor stock and inventory, automate reordering, and provide real-time delivery tracking. The Internet of Things serves as a window into all steps within the supply chain, increasing visibility and making problem-solving much easier.
Automation applies to a wide variety of spaces within the supply chain, whether it is utilizing pick and pack robots, drone delivery, IoT technology to facilitate stock reordering, and more, automation can streamline processes that may otherwise make the human counterparts of the supply chain less productive. A trend moving forward, as companies expand the automated systems within their supply chains, is hyper-automation.
This is the idea of mixing and matching an array of available technologies to maximize productivity and efficiency. For example, hybridization of legacy platforms and newer tech tools. With hyper-automation, if done correctly, the supply chain becomes more flexible, responsive, and able to collaborate across previously siloed functions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) options in the supply chain provide tools for helping to analyze and understand complex data and content, enhance human performance, more accurately make predictions about business needs, and take over routine tasks. Whether it’s chatbots on websites, enhanced AI customer service, or data silo solutions, AI’s capabilities and ability to integrate into nearly every aspect of the supply chain is vast.
Companies are routinely making the shift to incorporate more AI tech solutions into their business models, and as we approach the future, AI’s influence is likely to continue to expand. AI allows for more visibility, provides troubleshooting, and enhances human interaction across platforms.
As a companion technology to the Internet of Things, edge computing and analytics allow for the processing and analysis of data as close as possible to its origin. This tech best serves when there is a demand for real-time automated decision-making.
In the manufacturing part of the supply chain, edge computing is visible in the form of driverless forklifts or other automated equipment. Warehouses may have automated picking and packing setups. With automated devices, data is routinely made available that allows for updates to when service is needed, such as maintenance or replacement of parts. Systems like these allow for the reduction of potential injury and preemptive action that can save time and money.
While many companies hang on to legacy software programs that remain on-site and attempt to integrate those systems using hyper-automation and other tech solutions, cloud computing continues to be the wave of the future. Supply chain cloud computing comes in a variety of solution forms- Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), as well as Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).
Depending on the needs of a business, there is a cloud-based solution available. Supply chain cloud computing allows for the most flexibility, scalability, and global integration while saving costs and potential issues associated with on-site legacy infrastructure. Cloud-based computing solutions have grown exponentially, primarily due to ease of integration with current systems, better user experience, and the ability to stay current with regular updates and new features. All of these technologies are steadily moving the supply chain forward, with solutions making disparate links more smoothly interconnected every day.