How can Technology Transform Supply Chain Management?

by Guest Author on July 31, 2018

in Articles, Guest Posts

Technology in its various forms is taking over literally every aspect of a business. With its premium features such as providing real-time data processing, valuable insights, and ability to eliminate human intervention to a great extent in order to minimize errors, technology has enhanced the way we conduct business today.

Upcoming technologies are revolutionizing various sectors and the supply chain is one in many that have witnessed fruitful change. Its limitless applications make it a driving force for achieving business goals and objectives.

Big Data

The 21st century has been given the moniker of ‘Information Age’. And it’s a name rightly deserved due to the huge amount of data readily available today. Big data has fuelled the growth of the supply chain industry wherein it provides managers with valuable insights throughout the supply chain process. Copious volumes of data can be derived from customer interactions, subscriptions, CRM data, RFID data and inventory management system.

Managers can utilize this data across diverse business operations to increase efficiency, reduce risks and provide better customer service. Big data enables managers with a multi-level visibility where they can see any problem occurring at different stages of the supply chain and resolve them immediately.

For businesses in the food and beverage industry traceability becomes an unbeatable benefit of big data. To know where each product is in the supply chain is essential. Traceability facilitates quicker identification of the points of origin and distribution in case of spoilage or contamination.

The greatest use of big data lies in forecasting- understanding what the customers want, when and where they want it. By analyzing past transactions and customer interactions, managers can increase their profitability and predict customer demand more efficiently. This kind of a data-driven strategy also reduces wastage significantly.

RFID

Radio Frequency identification uses electromagnetic waves to track objects. The tags are attached to products and contain electronically-stored information which helps to identify and track their movement throughout the supply chain.

RFID establishes a communication channel between a tag and a reader. The RFID tag is a very small microchip with an antenna attached to it. It can be placed on the packaging or container of the product. The reader transmits and receives radio signals to and from the tag.

RFID technology can increase the speed and efficiency of scanning item. RFID scanners do not need to be in the line of sight of the products. Instead readers can scan from a distance of several feet, thus, an entire pallet-load of products can be scanned simultaneously.

Drones

Drones are being increasingly exploited for use in the supply chain industry. First and foremost drones can prove extremely useful within the airspace of businesses itself- that is, inside the warehouse. Here drones could be good replacements for convoluted conveyor systems. Inside the distribution center, drones can improve flexibility, with regard to palletization. Building pallets wherever required can improve warehouse utilization as well.

Drones can be used to handle raw materials. For example in farming, they are being used for crop spraying or mapping the yield.

Warehouse safety and security could be an intelligent use for drones. Drones fitted with cameras can hover around the warehouse to ensure the safety of workers and security of the facility.

Internet of Things

No doubt inventory is the most valuable resource for a retailer. Yet the biggest challenge that retailers face is not being able to see the movement of stock in real-time. In such a situation, the IoT comes to the rescue.

The Internet of Things(IoT) turns ordinary things into smart objects. Tiny chips and sensors attached to warehouse or store shelves allow you to track the movement of goods right from your phone through the internet, making inventory management easier and providing you with greater inventory control.

With a sensor, you can understand the level of inventory on the shelves. If inventory is low, or there are returns, these sensors can reroute the items to the point where the demand is high instead of going through the entire process of inventory being shipped to distribution first then sent to stores. Cutting out the middlemen through this method, costs of processing returns can be saved and the product can reach the customer faster.

The IoT allows for greater exchange of information, and the more information is exchanged, the stronger is the ability to make accurate decisions.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology has made a name for itself in every type of industry. Its applications are limitless and it has a huge potential to revolutionize the way inventory contracts could be managed.

Smart contracts enable companies to automate payment transfer once the requirements of the contract have been fulfilled. For example, if a contract exists between a drop-shipper and a retailer that once the latter’s stock for a particular item reaches 2 units, then the drop-shipper has to transfer 3 more units to the retailer. As soon as the drop shipper sends the required number of units, his payment will automatically get transferred. Blockchain reduces any kind of manual error as it completely eliminates human intervention. This could prove to be highly beneficial in inventory liquidation by foregoing the manual payment process and parties automatically receiving payments.

Final thoughts

The biggest reason to incorporate technology into supply chain management is to increase efficiency, accuracy and to reduce redundancy and human error. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have already utilized the benefits of drones in their distribution processes. It is clear that these technologies have humongous potential in transforming the face of supply chain management in years to come.

Guest article written by: Kriti Agarwal is an avid reader. She has been passionate about writing since a young age. She is an ardent animal lover. A perfect Saturday evening for her is a cup of coffee with a classic book. She is the Content Writer at https://www.orderhive.com/ 

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