For many organizations, the probing question today is how to accomplish successful supply chain management in a wildly dynamic and somewhat unpredictable business environment. While the global supply chain industry is projected to register a cumulative growth of 11.2% from 2020 to 2027, many companies don’t have a proactive management system in place, which has led to a subpar supply chain accuracy of only 63%.
While we know that effective supply chain management is a product of using adequate tools and making well-informed judgments, it’s not been easy to pull it off. That’s where a smart supply chain solution can help businesses to streamline their operations, increase productive output, reduce costs, and fine-tune logistical procedures.
Let’s take a closer look at what intelligent supply chains are and how to become a supply chain leader in a highly competitive economy.
What Exactly is Intelligent Supply Chain Management?
It is not a secret that manual labor permeates most steps of conventional supply chains, resulting in operational as well as financial inefficiencies along with a lack of precision. Integrating cutting-edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) into supply chain management is the essence of intelligent supply chain management.
Intelligence-Based Supply Chain Control
Many aspects of the supply chain can be improved by incorporating digital technologies into a conventional supply chain.
They can enable businesses to gather meaningful data in real-time from a variety of sources and provide useful and actionable insights. As a result, the business acquires the ability to make better decisions as information may be accessed wherever and whenever.
Digitalization of the processes can help organizations build easily scalable, cloud-based systems for managing supply chains that are fast and reliable. It ensures your supply chain can change with the needs of your customers, and your business gets itself in a better position to be proactive as it can get early warnings of any potential dependencies or disturbances.
Apart from that, an intelligent supply chain can help with budgeting and planning for future goals and business objectives. Leveraging digital intelligence, you can manage your inventory data, monitor your shipments, foresee and prevent challenges, and react swiftly to any issues that may arise.
What Steps Can Supply Chain Managers Take to Implement Smarter Procedures?
The whole contemporary supply chain is being disrupted by innovations in technology. To upgrade your supply chain, choose from a variety of available technologies. Your supply chain can be transformed by implementing these intelligent practices.
Introduce IoT Integration for Efficient Management
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an innovative technological solution that can provide data-driven answers to common supply chain challenges. With the deployment of IoT, businesses can envision a future in which all inventory management gadgets and devices stay online. The data collected by these devices can be processed and turned into valuable insights for the efficient supply chain management.
With IoT, organizations can finally replace antiquated methods and tools as it can enable more efficient management of multi-channel supply chains. For instance, with the installation of trackers in merchandise, businesses can keep an eye on their goods from the moment of storage all the way through transportation and delivery without any hassle.
If a shipment gets delayed or faces any technical issues, location tracking and live notifications can alert businesses to make the right call at the right time. On the same note, with the use of environmental sensors, businesses can monitor the conditions of inventory in storage or in transit, including temperature, humidity, pressure, etc., and take corrective action as necessary.
Implement Blockchain-Enabled Data Storage and Transfer
Blockchain technology is generally associated with cryptocurrencies; however, it has applications beyond digital tokens. Blockchain technology can enable businesses to securely record financial dealings, and it is well suited to trace the provenance of product data, confirm the authenticity of transaction records, and establish confidence in the information being exchanged, for example, that of a supplier.
As a consequence, the organization will have an easier time following the flow of items through its supply chain. Blockchain solutions can aid in halting leaks, spotting fake goods or fraud, pinpointing potentially dangerous vendors, and fostering open communication.
Be Forward-Thinking with Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Data Analytics
When dealing with massive amounts of supply chain data, conventional methods often fall short, particularly in terms of processing, categorization, and security. With machine learning (ML), organizations can train computers to successfully process large amounts of data automatically with little human input. Integrating ML algorithms with AI and analytics results in a compound effect that can be leveraged by the business to introduce operational efficiency and enable informed decision-making.
Having these technologies supporting the business allows companies to better anticipate trends and access correct information. As a result, businesses see an enhanced performance in areas like demand forecasting, cost reduction, revenue creation, productivity, and supplier delivery.
In recent years, predictive analytics has also risen to prominence. Predictive analytics investments have been made by organizations primarily to drive cost reduction and to enhance customer experience, according to Deloitte’s Supply Chain Digital and Analytics report.
Together, these three tools can empower businesses to swiftly increase supply chain visibility and implement strategic sourcing and optimization. Additionally, they may identify inefficiencies, make immediate adjustments, and develop an understanding to reduce downtime and improve processes.
Time to Invest in Automation Was Yesterday
More than a decade ago, robots began playing an important part in the supply chain, either in the warehouses or the vehicles themselves. However, because of technological advancements like AI, many more duties previously performed by people can now be done by robots. This makes heavy loading and order fulfillment processes amenable to automation.
Do keep in mind that industrial robots benefit greatly from the use of AI/ML and the Internet of Things, which increase their accuracy and efficiency. That’s why we’re seeing the rise of collaborative robots or “cobots” designed to do work alongside people to automate and streamline all the repetitive, laborious, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks.
Effective deployment of robotics and automation can help the supply chain to be more flexible and capable of handling evolving situations and uncertainty, making it scalability-friendly. The great thing about automation is that all the stakeholders, including manufacturers, suppliers, consumers, and retailers, will reap the rewards of enhancements made to the supply chain.
Assess If 3D Printing Can Be An Alternative
In order to cut down storage and transportation costs, businesses can invest in software and hardware rather than stockrooms and supplies. Using this approach, manufacturing may be spread out to several regional assembly centers, with 3D printing being a viable option in some instances.
With 3D printing, it’s possible to produce goods in close proximity to where they’re needed. Not only does this help businesses regulate expenditure, but it also shields them from the geopolitical risks and tariffs often associated with exporting jobs overseas. That’s good news for the supply chain since it means products will reach consumers more quickly.
How to Accelerate Business Development through an Adaptive Supply Chain
As we have established that connectivity, velocity, transparency, and effectiveness are the hallmarks of an intelligent supply chain, the real question is how an organization can get there. Let’s take a look.
Have a 360 Degree Perspective
Every time a cargo leaves a supplier’s dock, whether there is an expected delay or not, or if there are any units waiting on the assembly line, executives want to know. This all-encompassing view is a vital component of a smart supply chain. That’s why an intelligent supply chain requires data gathering and dissemination by objects rather than humans.
It is imperative that data crucial to the company’s requirements can be acquired from all the connected devices in the supply chain, including robots, trucks, shop shelves, or goods in transit. Better planning, decisions, and in-the-moment execution are all made possible with this level of transparency. In addition, such visibility is required in unanticipated circumstances, such as delayed shipments, to establish contingency preparations and avoid any negative repercussions.
Supply chain visibility from end-to-end improves operational efficiency, enables better management of inventories and raw materials, and ultimately contributes to business growth and expansion.
Build an Expedited Supply Chain with Automation
Long processing times signify conventional supply networks. By decreasing the amount of time it takes to complete a task or project cycle, automation improves efficiency and precision, enabling businesses to deliver more to their end customers with better accuracy and satisfaction.
In order to increase productivity, businesses can start looking into hardware options. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automated conveyors, picker robots, collaborative robots (cobots), and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are all potent examples. Think beyond the box and use driverless vehicles for the “final mile” of delivery.
Instead of trying to find ways to get rid of workers, it’s better to find ways to assist them in improving their performance so that they can devote more time to other value-adding tasks.
Use Predictive Analytics for Risk Mitigation and Damage Control
It is not possible for the supply chain management to prevent every unforeseen circumstance. On the other hand, with predictive analytics, organizations can anticipate and be ready to deal with any disruptions by eliminating or at least reducing waste.
With the use of analytics, an oil and gas manufacturer, for instance, might foresee the impending need to repair a customer’s field equipment before its wear and tear impacts operations adversely. The manufacturer may use this information to plan ahead for the production and replacement of the necessary equipment.
The same holds true for determining how quickly a meal will mature or perish based on its storage temperature data. Inventory planning and advertising perishable foods close to their expiration dates can be helped by having access to all this valuable information.
Break Down the Walls of Communication Silos
In a conventional supply chain, vital data may be locked away in inaccessible silos. However, digital technology can broaden this reach and provide a transparent picture of all relevant data and information. The silos may be broken down by rethinking the procedures of the supply chain network and using cutting-edge technology to address the issues that arise. Because of this, teamwork may improve for all parties involved.
Technologies have allowed for real-time cooperation inside supply networks, which has improved decision-making, planning, and execution while decreasing costs. Solutions like this make it simple to track how much of a demand or supply shift there is. Plus, it’s great when purchasers and sellers work together on things like demand estimation, stockpiling, purchase orders, quality control, and hazard assessment.
With an effective business process and work management platform, businesses can build a collaborative work environment that ensures proper communication and coordination between individuals as well as teams.
Examine Information for Trends
Information gathered by an intelligent supply network may be used to better understand the whole system. Businesses can spot trends and outliers in supply chain and distribution networks, and put that information to good use, with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a result, the organization can put itself in a better position to formulate a strategy for ensuring the project’s success.
Aligning supply chain plans with frequently changing company strategies is crucial in today’s uncertain economic climate. The exponential development and return on investment of a business may be accelerated by using an intelligent supply chain that provides better choices and actionable information.
You can reach out to Cooperative Computing to begin implementing intelligent supply chain solutions at your firm.
When you work with us, we can help your business become more adaptable and versatile by enabling digitalization, automation, and intelligence-driven solutions.