The supply chain industry is going through a revolution right now, from AI-bots to autonomous delivery systems. For sustainable business growth, enterprises must understand the latest technologies and how to adopt them faster than the competition.
Supply chain firms must continue to use technology as a strategic necessity. 61% of respondents in a recent Gartner study said the technology provides a competitive edge. Moreover, 20% of those polled said that robots were one of the most important emerging technologies for investment.
Here are some ways in which businesses can compete in the coming age of robots, AI, and blockchain.
Blockchain to the Rescue
As demand for more supply chain visibility grows, it makes logical sense to follow the trend toward blockchain use. First, what is blockchain and how is it different?
Blockchain’s database structure uses chunks or “blocks” of data, where a typical database uses tables to store data. After a certain amount of data has been stored in these storage blocks, they reach their maximum capacity, and new blocks are produced and linked to the old ones.
Using these blocks, users can see all of their transactions with precise timestamps, providing them with vital transparency. For supply chains, blockchain’s database structure may help them succeed in their quest for complete transparency.
A few of the other benefits of using blockchain technology are as follows:
- Improved item tracking from origin to the selling point reduces administrative and logistical overhead.
- Gaining a better understanding on the activities of suppliers, distributors, logistics providers and subcontractors.
- Improvement in the ability to identify and stop the theft of expensive goods.
By 2025, the blockchain supply chain industry is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 80.2%, according to Allied Market Research. In 2025, the market is expected to be worth $948 million, according to Markets and Markets.
Digital Supply Chain Twins
Making judgments based on real-time supply chain data via manual approaches is becoming less desirable as social distance and remote workers are becoming the new normal. It’s not enough to use prescriptive analytics to combat this; you also need real-time data from your supply chain’s physical fronts to minimize expensive interruptions.
To meet this need, digital supply chain twins (DSCTs) reproduce a whole supply chain and all of its procedures in a digital format that can be accessed by anybody.
It’s possible to get a detailed view of everything, from consumer orders to specific objects, traveling through the supply chain thanks to IoT (Internet of Things) sensors. For example, they may alert you to a production snag and the potential consequences it may have, as well as malfunctioning equipment or other items in need of maintenance.
Constructing a DSCT is not an easy task due to the many systems, pieces of equipment, and related expenditures. It is a complex procedure and must be planned and implemented correctly in order to receive maximum benefit.
The use of digital twins in various industries other than supply chain management is paving the road for their widespread adoption.
Supply Chain as a Service (SCaaS)
Managing all of your supply chain activities in-house becomes practically impossible as value chains get more complicated. Using massive numbers of IoT-enabled devices, analyzing data, and much more all become essential tasks requiring a high degree of competence and expertise. As a result, many organizations will outsource for many of these critical procedures.
This new service follows many others in the cloud computing industry, aiming for the same outcomes. As a result of SaaS products, advantages like improved customer service, enhanced productivity, and cheaper expenses are often mentioned.
SCaaS provides many of the same features as traditional SaaS but with added supply chain advantages, such as improved asset tracking. When it comes to surviving the next pandemic level event, adaptability is a key differentiator, as are resilience and agility.
Circular Supply Chains and Greener Processes
Supply chain sustainability is quickly becoming a significant player in the industry. After manufacturing a product, linear supply chains create waste by tossing out any remaining materials. Circular supply networks, instead of generating an item and returning to the beginning of the chain with fresh ingredients, recycle unwanted pieces back into their value chains. The goal is to achieve a zero-waste world with circular supply networks.
More and more customers are concerned about the cost of a product; therefore, they ask for information on how, with what, and where it was made. This isn’t a one-way street, though; governments often impose limits on the trash and encourage reclamation. A successful business relies on ethical standards and sustainable sourcing, and a circular chain may help you get there.
Although this technique might be challenging to execute if the necessary procedures are in place, the circular method can significantly reduce expenses, maximizing the use of every single resource possible.
According to a Statista poll, 38% of respondents plan to employ reverse logistics, 39% plan to include circular economic skills in their talent searches, and a final 39% want to apply circular design methods in their innovation processes by 2022.
The Market for Cloud-Based Products Continues to Grow
When it comes to functionality and security, cloud solutions may match or even outperform their on-premise equivalents while cutting out the sunk costs and customization issues that afflict conventional applications. The market for cloud SCM (supply chain management) is predicted to increase in 2022 and beyond, since few organizations require an on-premise solution. According to a recent Research and Markets analysis, the cloud-based supply chain management industry is expected to rise to roughly $8.6 billion by 2025.
SCM Cloud Market
For a long time, many people opposed to cloud-based software were concerned that a third party would have access to their program and be able to regulate its availability and security. Vendors of cloud-based technologies, on the other hand, are proving to be dependable and trustworthy business partners.
As individuals lose their fear of the cloud, it is now possible to concentrate on the real advantages of cloud computing over conventional systems. As a result, “now, [people are thinking about] speed of implementation, cost of updates, the total software lifecycle and working in the cloud environment according to the best practices of [the developer].”
According to Tompkins, a company planning to implement an SCM solution should be prepared for the changes it would bring. This is because many new purchasers assume that a system must be tailored to their business’s specific operations and needs to be effective.
An SCM solution may be customized in various ways to meet a company’s ultimate business objectives. It’s essential to keep in mind that cloud-based systems aren’t as customizable as their on-premise counterparts. Your company operations may be supported precisely with an on-premise solution. You may have to make some changes to your company procedures to function better with the software you’ve purchased.
Robots and Autonomous Additions
Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have been a hot topic in the supply chain for some years now. As the COVID-19 epidemic spread and there were more omnichannel chains, the use of robots increased and continues to do so as their value has been realized. There are many clear advantages of incorporating contemporary robots into the supply chain:
Robotics and Automation Benefits
Global robotics investment is estimated to reach $241 billion by 2023 as a result of these benefits. The rise in the use of robots may be traced in part to the challenges of adjusting to changing social distance standards. Robotic companies may activate and integrate their products with their operations from a secure, distant place instead of needing human presence to set up new machines on a physical site.
There will always be an elephant in the room while talking to robots. Automation bears the connotation of stealing jobs, which is reasonable. Automating low-value activities frees up human resources to concentrate on high-priority projects and difficulties. Instead of laying off workers, managers may retrain their present staff and focus on procedures that can’t be addressed by artificial intelligence (AI).
This indicates that in 2022 and beyond, WMS (warehouse management system) providers may put in more effort to ensure that their systems are compatible with AMR equipment. As a result, we may see a stronger focus on automation in general for those customers who must pick between the two items.
In the years to come, companies involved in the supply chain will have to deal with new problems and technology. Resilient supply chains will become increasingly crucial for businesses in unforeseen events. The use of digital supply chain twins, robots, artificial intelligence, and automation may assist in maintaining supply networks agile, adaptable, and scalable while adhering to new social distance standards and an increase in remote work continues.
It’s time for blockchain to shine a light on the transactions and processes taking place in the world. The cloud-based system industry and the SCaaS supply chain support market will continue to develop.
Businesses may profit from using an SCM software solution to stay up with the rapidly changing landscape of the supply chain sector. You’ll be better prepared for the problems ahead if you put in place a robust structure today.
What impact do you believe these changes will have on supply chain management in the current era? If you are an enterprise that requires help with supply chain technology, feel free to connect with our experts.