Infographic: How is Technology Enhancing Supply Chain Management?
How Far Will Drones, Big Data, the Internet of Things Go?
New technologies are revolutionizing multiple sectors, industries and processes and the supply chain is just one of the many that is seeing a constructive change.
But how far will Drones, Big Data, the Internet of Things and other new technologies influence supply chain management in the foreseeable future?
We may not realize on a day-to-day basis but we all rely on the supply chain, as it is responsible for the movement of goods we use in our everyday lives. The supply chain starts from the very beginning with the creation and storage of raw materials, all the way up until the point of consumer consumption. With this in mind, it is highly likely that in some way or another, we will feel the impact of these technological advances in supply chain management, as processes become faster, cheaper and more efficient.
We’ve looked at some of the key technologies that will be transforming and enhancing the supply chain process:
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an advanced automatic tracking system that can monitor inventory and record product movement. This form of tracking reduces the operating costs of the supply chain greatly, whilst also increasing accuracy as business owners can have greater control over the location of their products and, ultimately, improve areas such as inventory management.
In addition, a key consequence of RFID technology is the time it can save, as it eliminates the need for manual hand-scanning.
Drones are becoming an increasingly exciting and talked about technology, and whilst many of us associate them with celebrity spying, these flying vehicles are set to transform supply chain management and other industries, as they are set to be adopted across the next 15 years.
Two consumer-goods giants, Amazon and Walmart, have recognised the significance drones are set to have on their supply chain and are at the forefront of this technology, already using them in their warehouses.
Amazon has Prime Air set up which is a delivery system that uses drones to safely deliver packages to customers in under 30 minutes. For Amazon, this rapid parcel delivery will improve the safety of the delivery process and the overall efficiency. This is a perfect example of the extent the supply chain has on our lives. You won’t be waiting anxiously for the postman to arrive after a few days with drones in the skies.
Walmart are using drones at a different stage of the supply chain, implementing them to carry out a full warehouse inventory check. The result of this is a drastic improvement of time and accuracy, as previously this process could take up to a full month to complete when conducted by humans, however with drones this can be achieved in a single day. Mind blowing right?
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is all about connecting devices over the internet, allowing for the interlinking of data and communication between us, our devices and applications. In Britain, it is most commonly found in home heating and energy use, where the temperature of your house can be controlled remotely, when you are not at home for example. But the potential of the IoT goes way beyond the heating in your homes, and supply chain management is an example of this.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, one-trillion sensors are believed to be connected to the internet. The IoT allows for the increased sharing of information, and with more information comes the ability to make more accurate decisions. For supply chain managers, IoT will increase the visibility in all processes, draw attention to potential faults in each supply chain operation, and from this enable ways to improve the systems process, accuracy and efficiency.
The IoT is already being used in the shipping element of the supply chain, as sensors have been implemented to track temperature, battery levels and any potential errors that could impact goods and vehicles.
We’ve heard about driverless cars but did you know that in the near future there will be autonomous vessels travelling across our oceans as well? British luxury car company Rolls Royce have set a target to have remotely controlled autonomous vessels in international waters by 2025. Ten years later in 2035, ocean-going ships will have the ability to travel completely unmanned, and it is aimed that these intelligent vessels become a common sight across our seas.
GPS tracking and chipping is revolutionising fleet management. Telematics allows supply chain managers to access the data of their fleets and look at how efficient, costly and accurate they are. By being able to analyse the timings of routes, and exactly how vehicles are driven, intelligent decisions can be made about fuel consumption, component failure rates, reasons for breakdown and fleet training. The supply chain process is happening everywhere and as a result can be difficult to both manage and improve. Chipping aids the visibility of the processes, which supply chain managers are not always able to see so easily, and as a result helps decision making to reduce costs and spending.
These technologies are set to have an immense impact on supply chain management. With big companies already implementing some of the technology above, and reaping the benefits, it is clear that these advanced technologies are not only here to stay, but are set to transform the supply chain processes entirely. What will supply chain management look like in just a handful of years?
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