Supply chain management, as we knew it, has completely changed in the past decade. This has come up as a big revolution, especially for the manufacturing companies. The traditional supply chain faced several challenges, including lack of transparency, unforeseen delays, poor communication, etc. However, the advent of technology has revolutionized supply chain management completely.
To drive efficiency and get a competitive edge over the rivals, businesses quickly adapt to new technologies. Incorporating these technologies have already done wonders for thousands of companies. Here’s how technologies are reshaping supply chain management.
How technologies can help streamline your supply chain
Technologies such as AI, IoT, Blockchain, and Big data analytics are adept at helping you in many ways. However, before we dig deeper into the technologies, it is essential to know that implementing these technologies in the supply chain is no easy task. Firstly, the initial deployment costs can be very high. You might need a registered investment advisor, who can help you analyze the ROI on your investment so that it does not impact your portfolio management and investment planning.
Besides the costs, deploying technologies require a specific strategy. You cannot merely pick a technology and implement it. You will have to assess your current system and where the technology fits. Next, you need to create an implementation plan. Only after all the hard efforts will you get to reap the benefits of technology. However, this is all to make you aware and not to get you off the board. That’s because no matter how hard the deployment is, successful implementation will help make your supply chain more efficient with the following technologies.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in every business, regardless of the industry. The robots doing repetitive daunting tasks or personal smartphone assistants like Siri that quickly reply to us are all AI results.
AI can analyze data and provide predictive insights. Suppose you can see the unforeseen shipment delays or predict a product demand to stock up your inventory accordingly. Imagine the problems it can solve. Not just that, you can also automate repetitive tasks, thereby freeing up your laborers to engage in more essential and productive tasks.
To optimally leverage this technology, you need to understand how, where, and when to use AI to solve which problems. Only a thorough assessment will help you identify the real use cases and benefit from AI.
2. Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) market size reached USD 100 billion only recently in 2017. But the growth of the technology is such that it is expected to reach a whopping USD 1.6 trillion by 2025. The numbers clearly hint at the benefits it brings to a business and end-users.
While AI can make use of data, IoT is the technology to gather it efficiently. You can use it to get real-time data throughout the supply chain. An example of the use case can be implementing IoT sensors in supply vehicles. For instance, if you need to supply a product that requires the vehicle to maintain a specific temperature range, IoT sensors can help you. These sensors can constantly monitor the temperature and send you and even the driver notification if the temperature is about to go outside the range.
You can also use IoT to monitor your inventory. Whenever the inventory is about to go below the specified stock numbers, the technology can notify you and the inventory manager to refill the stocks. Also, attaching IoT sensors to machinery enables you to provide predictive maintenance to machinery.
Blockchain brings the transparency and trust that is so longed in supply chain management. The technology is a ledger of immutable records that cannot be changed. Hence, it brings the possibility of traceability to the table. This is best used if you have multiple vendors in your supply chain.
Whenever one vendor hands over the stocks to another, the same can be updated on the blockchain ledger. Doing this can eliminate the risks and chances of fraud. With blockchain, you can also handle the risks related to accounts by updating the bill amounts on the immutable record.
Blockchain also enables you to create smart contracts. These smart contracts are auto-implied according to the rules and criteria mentioned in it. Suppose you want to ensure timely delivery under normal circumstances. You can create a smart contract that will deduct money from the final amount depending on the delay time.
Mentioned above are just a few prominent technologies, there are many more that you can implement in the supply chain and reap the benefits. However, before jumping on the bandwagon, it is essential to know about the technology itself and the use cases it provides. Ultimately, it all depends on your needs and how well you can implement the technology in your supply chain.