Technology In Supply Chain And Logistics
Jun 11, 2022 | Amelyah Roach
Internet of Things refers to the connectivity of several different devices and software across one shared network. Through this, all devices on this shared network are able to interact with, react to and facilitate any changes throughout the network. Indeed, an IoT network may very likely include all or some of the very technologies mentioned below. Especially within supply chain management, these devices work in synergy to bring about productivity through a highly digitised omnichannel.
As the name suggests, digital twins can be defined as a digital copy of a product that will be built or has already been built. Within the manufacturing channel of SCM especially, digital twins can be leveraged to accurately assess, analyse and manage prototype creation, troubleshooting, achieve process optimization ,as well as provide lifecycle statistics. With a market value of 3.1 billion in 2020 alone according to Forbes.com, a 2020 report found that by 2025, Digital Twinning capability will be integrated into at least 89% of all IoT platforms, with this capability becoming a projected standard feature for IoT Application Enablement by 2027. This tool can be helpful along the supply chain to give entrepreneurs, those working within their factories and along the assembly lines as well as within the quality control channels, the support to ensure that products are built and function according to their maximum capability. Digital twins also promote visibility, surveillance and increase productivity throughout the lifecycle of products.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems are a robotics-based technology that can be used in both manufacturing and distribution facilities to digitally manage inventory by being able to carry out key warehousing functions such as picking and kitting. These systems are both agile and swift, and when integrated can be tailored to your warehouse size, product size and operational needs and can prevent common mistakes linked to manual warehousing such as employee injuries, mishandling of products and loss of products.
An acronym for Radio Frequency Identification, RFID is a type of Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technology that leverages the use of radio frequency waves and product labels to store, track and transfer data. In a warehouse setting, this tool can do wonders within the supply chain in terms of inventory tracking, better product visibility, forecasting of product demand and subsequent product replenishment needs as well as promote all in all better warehouse management and increase efficiency throughout the supply chain
Employed by the likes of various grocery stores in China, and more recently the fast food chain Dominos in the US, this year the hypermarket giant Walmart began officially testing autonomous vehicle delivery options. Though these vehicles are only being used for grocery and fast food delivery for the moment, it is very likely that these unmanned vehicles will soon be deployed for deliveries of a larger scale which could result in huge productivity spikes across the supply chain in addition to lower costs. Powered by advanced radar and sensor technology, these smart vehicles can be loaded at warehouses and travel several miles by using built-in navigational devices that allow them to choose the fastest routes for delivery, dodge long traffic lines and pedestrians, as well as send real time alerts to customers while driving.
The integration of drones can be leveraged in several different ways throughout the supply chain and logistics networks, primarily in the areas of manufacturing, inventory control & surveillance, and last-mile deliveries. In manufacturing, they can benefit factory workers and rapidly increase productivity levels by quickly transporting materials from one end of the warehouse to the other with minimal effort. Inventory control and surveillance is also made easier and more efficient by drone usage, especially for e-commerce entrepreneurs who potentially may not have a consistent, large workforce on site or sufficient resources to constantly check on their warehouse inventory or perform thorough audits in person. By using drones to carry out these tasks, products, machinery, and containers can easily be virtually accounted for and inspected through drone cameras. Finally, though they may not yet have the capacity to carry bulk loads, employing drones to complete last-mile deliveries can also be worthwhile for small e-commerce entrepreneurs. Indeed, outside of the environmental benefits of replacing traditional shipping options with drones, these automated devices can also ensure faster delivery times and lower costs.
A household name within the tech community of sorts, blockchain’s usefulness within supply chain networks has only very recently been raised. Blockchain can be described as a public ledger made up of a series of secure, interconnected virtual blocks that record and store data across a network. Within supply chain networks, this technology provides all those connected to the blockchain with access to all of its data as well as enables features such as real time smart contracts. This makes it easy for all parties within the supply chain and logistics networks to view, trace and complete transactions easily and securely without the intervention of third parties, as well as always be aware of the origin and nature of products. In this way, blockchain promotes efficiency as well as communication within the supply chain and amongst all those involved, two very important criteria which can aid in propelling supply chain and logistics networks into the future.
Indeed, with the global tech landscape constantly changing and being flooded with new innovations, it is imperative that those managing complex supply chain and logistics systems stay curious and try their best to stay abreast with all new tech that could significantly improve the efficiency of their businesses.
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