The supply chain and the logistics industries are critical components of any economy as they form the key resource for all other industries dealing in physical goods. Any improvements in the efficiency of such important resources reflect in overall efficiency improvements in all industries. As new trends and technologies bring about evolution in supply chain and logistics industries, other industries utilizing the supply chain services also experience benefits in terms of cost-effectiveness and better efficiencies.
Evolving technologies are providing opportunities in different magnitudes for the optimization of manufacturing, logistics, warehousing and last-mile delivery.
Numerous functions are being enhanced with evolving technology
Blockchain has emerged as a game-changer. Earlier blockchain was used only to track bitcoin transactions, but with its expansive characteristics, presently it is being put to use in other sectors too. It records transactions which means now you don’t have to go back to a pile of dusty files to find some obscure decade old data. Blockchain tracks assets and keeps updating the ongoing transactions. It creates a transparent system for managing and accessing all documents involved in the logistics process and provides end-to-end encryption. This simply means that your data cannot be tampered with if you use the blockchain system. Blockchain also ensures data safekeeping; there is no threat of data being stolen. Even though cloud storage systems are designed for data storage and safekeeping, they are not immune to hackers or infrastructure problems.
From manually operated forklifts to today’s robotic machines, warehousing facilities have come a long way. The various autonomous facilities not only help in inventory placement, but also record and verify locations (mobile robots) and transport goods while ensuring safety and fast delivery of goods. With proper management of inventory, a company can plan and schedule better, as inventory visibility helps in exact knowledge about material management and plan for optimum order management. The management of multiple carriers provides choices based on rates or transit times all on one screen instead of contacting multiple carriers. Automation helps in increasing storage density and eases labor overheads, providing companies with more tactical autonomy in their network-footprint decisions.
With Wearable Technology, employees do not need to stop and write every detail manually. It also provides live tracking of goods. It can also monitor vital signs so that health problems (exhaustion, heart attacks) among the warehouse workers can be prevented (especially during working hours), making technology more humane. Employees and wearables work in unison as it helps in reducing inaccuracy, thus enhancing safety and increasing productivity.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can enable much in supply chain, physical machines such as robots and drones can complete deliveries despite bad traffic or unfavorable weather conditions ensuring an easy flow of goods from the point of origin to the point of consumption. But this capability will take some time to be adopted as a common reality as safety and security concerns have to be first addressed and resolved for their commercial usage in public areas. Moreover, as per the research shared by The Economist, the implementation of AI in logistics and supply chain can generate its potential economic value from $1.3 trillion to $2 trillion per year.
The role of technology has changed significantly in the logistics and supply chain industry and it still has the potential to completely change the face of the industry. It is therefore a direct enabler of business growth. The economy widely affected by this industry is all set to grow with the new trends and technologies.