From manually handled assembly lines to modern technologies like robotics, AI, and advanced analytics, the supply chain has come a long way. To think of it, the term ‘supply chain management’ gained mainstream recognition only in the mid-1990s and the last couple of decades have seen extraordinary changes and growth in the industry.
Modern technologies are largely responsible for this marvelous transformation. The digital revolution is now making its presence felt throughout the world and is sure to upgrade the supply chain further. While there are several technologies which can be used in supply chain management, some of them are expected to affect the development and shape the supply chain better than others.
Five such disruptive supply chain technologies include:
The innovative blockchain technology is touted to be the biggest gamechanger for supply chain in the future. From conducting audits and payments to tracking assets and inventory, the distributed ledger which powers the blockchain technology is sure to have several applications.
With the help of blockchain technology, every time the products change hands from the manufacturing to the sales cycle, a permanent transaction can be documented. This can help in dramatically reducing the added costs, delays, as well as human errors that are currently so common in supply chains.
2. Advanced Analytics
With the help of advanced analytics, businesses can get meaningful and timely insights into their supply chains, allowing them to take appropriate decisions. This can help improve the visibility of inventory and offer better visualization of the rate at which products move through the warehouse.
Improved product development, reduced lead times, optimizing inventory space and value, locating geographic growth opportunities, and understanding the actual cause of delivery promise failures, are some of the other benefits of using advanced analytics in the supply chain.
While the cloud technology has been around for a very long time, it is only in the past few years that businesses have started understanding its possibilities in supply chain management. While the transition to a cloud-based environment can be complicated and time-consuming, once done, it can offer several valuable benefits.
For instance, with the help of the cloud, businesses can easily scale up their operations without overhauling their entire system. Moreover, everyone involved in the supply chain can always remain connected, enabling an improved approach to inventory deployment.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Using AI in tasks related to the supply chain has excellent potential for improving the value of your top-line and the bottom-line. With the help of this technology, businesses could automate a host of their daily tasks which generally consume a lot of time. There are several innovative ways in which AI is used in the supply chain. For instance, machine learning can be used with supply chain planning to forecast the demand and supply of inventory. The use of chatbots for streamlining procurement, warehouse management, movement of autonomous vehicles, and predictive analysis are some of the applications of AI in supply chain management.
5. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
While most people associate AR and VR with video games, these innovative technologies hold a lot of potential for businesses, especially for the supply chain. For example, DHL is already using AR for faster order picking and reducing errors.
Predictive modeling of the warehouse, a more efficient and faster delivery process, secure delivery, and offering a unique experience to the customers are some of the other ways in which AR and VR can help improve the supply chain.
Get Tech Ready
While there are several other technologies that can be used in supply chains, it will take time for them to mature and seriously disrupt the industry. But the ones mentioned above are already being extensively used by a lot of global businesses, and it might be the right time for you to start understanding how they work and the ways in which they can improve your supply chain.