Technology’s role in overcoming supply chain challenges around the world?

Harmeet Kaur
Supply chain management

Introduction

Nearly every space is being transformed by digitalization, but perhaps the logistics and manufacturing sectors are being transformed the most. Companies are leveraging advanced technology in the supply chain to expand their business innovation amid growing globalization, elevated product complexity, and changing customer demands.

Due to recent pandemics and war situations, supply chain technology has been affected globally due to an imbalance in demand and supply. The probability of lockdowns or another war cannot be overlooked, which makes it imperative for companies to embrace tech-driven supply chain management solutions to deal with these dire situations.

Increasingly, companies are investing in intelligent supply chain optimization technologies as they become more cautious about the uncertain future ahead. Gartner predicts that 50% of eCommerce companies will invest in artificial intelligence, real-time supply chains, and advanced analytics by 2023.

A solution to the disruption of global supply chains they wish to invest in.

Technologies that are currently being used in supply chains have problems

Despite the current economic situation accelerating the adoption of digitalization in supply chains, it has also revealed several deficiencies. A revelation that has forced information technologies to play a pivotal role in supply chains.

1. There is a shortage of materials and workers

Several layoffs occurred in 2020-21 due to quarantines. Leaders are also experiencing difficulty filling key procurement and supply chain ops positions as a result of these issues.

The Institute of Supply Chain Management reports that key commodities – men and materials – are becoming scarcer or more expensive, resulting in complexities and shortages in the industry.

2. Costs of shipping are increasing

As a result, intermodal transport grew significantly in 2021, while spot prices also doubled; for example, reefer (+25%), van (+18%), and flatbed (+27%). Additionally, air and sea freight prices have skyrocketed, making it difficult for companies to move freight at high volumes. Consequently, businesses have invested in supply chain and logistics technologies to find cost-effective solutions to this challenge.

3. Congestion at ports

It has been difficult for ships to arrive at ports around the world in the past two years. For instance, more than 50 container ships were gathered outside Los Angeles and Long Beach last year to unload cargo from China. As ships attempt to obtain cargo, gridlocks like these, especially at overseas ports, cause delays. In the event of such bottlenecks on both ends, imports and exports take longer, disrupting domestic supply chains.

The National Customers Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) predicts long queues and blockages in supply chains in 2022, despite the fact that congestion in ports is not a new problem. The supply chain will be managed more efficiently in response to this trend.

4. Forecasting demand has its limitations

As a result of the worldwide shutdown in 2020, the supplier network data was negatively affected, but 2021 saw a sudden shift toward digitalization. As a result, supply chain leaders had no benchmarks to work around, allowing global supply chain technology to be adopted.

Despite the unprecedented growth in the market today, addressing them remains a challenge. To deal with this, business leaders are calculating the present year’s inventory, pricing, and budget based on the current data.

just-a-step-awayIn the supply chain industry, these challenges remain even after the COVID-driven digitalization approach. The solution to them lies in the use of new technology. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Supply chain management's most influential set of technologies

supply-chainThe supply chain is fast changing as technology advances. What was once restricted to paperwork and excel is now being improved by using smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and robotic process automation. Our next step will be to review the technologies that are helping supply chain managers overcome their challenges.

Connected devices

It is expected that global IoT spending will grow by double-digits in 2022, presenting a huge opportunity for the supply chain industry. This is especially true when it comes to connected and censored items, such as shipping containers, goods, and warehouse stations.

Specifically, manufacturers and transportation companies will be investing in IoT deployments for managing production assets, monitoring production operations, and managing freight fleets.

IoT and artificial intelligence can be combined in supply chain management to enable location tracking, weather monitoring, traffic patterns, etc. Businesses will explore a range of use cases for combining IoT and AI. A supplier, for example, may reroute the delivery to a nearby distribution center or dispatch a repair crew in real time based on this information.

We’ve written a blog post on IoT In Logistics And Supply Chain – Benefits, Use Cases & Challenges to help you better understand IoT in supply chain.

Using blockchains

global-blockchain

The topic of global supply chain disruption cannot be discussed without discussing blockchain. By using an immutable set of transactions, the technology can be used to track the origin of goods and build trust in supplier information and supply chain processes.

As a result of the immutability of blockchain, supply chain management establishes a much more efficient audit trail than traditional tracking methods such as email and bookkeeping.

Since this is the case, the biggest blockchain application in supply chain is the ability to enable track-and-trace use cases that allow businesses to track goods’ custody. As a result, counterfeit items and fraud can be detected, at-risk suppliers are highlighted, regulatory requirements are met, and transparency around the origin and movement of goods can be built. Because of all of this, blockchain technology in supply chains is one of the most profitable investments there is.

Artificial Intelligence

chain-market

With the advent of modern supply chains, we have access to a vast amount of data which allows us to gain insights into otherwise complex global supply chains.

Using artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and machine learning in supply chain management and logistics, companies can automate their warehouse operations, speed up delivery times, manage inventory more effectively, optimize sourcing relationships, and create new experiences to improve user satisfaction and increase sales by combining technology in supply chain management and logistics.

With almost no human involvement, businesses are able to use large amounts of data to gain insights on a microscopic level using predictive methods and algorithms of artificial intelligence in supply chains. Among the main reasons businesses use AI in supply chains and logistics is this.

Automation and robots

The industry has always relied on robotics to move materials in warehouses and fulfill orders. Robots have been used for order fulfillment for years. In the future, as AI advances the robots’ technology, they will be able to compete with the manual labor of picking and packing orders as well as automated supply chains.

Automated supply chain management solutions are enabling large-scale deployments through the combined capabilities of humans and robots. By 2023, IDC predicts that 65% of warehouse activities will be optimized using situational data analytics and robots, resulting in a 20% increase in warehouse capacity and a half reduction in work order processing efforts.

Cyberspace as a service

geography

Businesses are using AI-powered clouds to convert massive amounts of data generated by the supply chain into insights as the supply chain generates massive amounts of data on a year-over-year basis. With cloud computing and artificial intelligence in supply chain management, supply chains can be transformed and their complexity management capabilities will be increased.

Cloud and AI technologies can be integrated in supply chain management to achieve the following processes using market indicators and past trends:

  • Automating processes with power
  • Enhancing the process of selecting suppliers
  • Monitoring shipments in real-time
  • Performance analysis of carriers
  • Onboarding suppliers more efficiently
  • Trends and operational issues to anticipate
  • Support for customers is being enhanced

next-gen

These technologies are enabling businesses to predict demand, make supply chains transparent, and reduce delivery timelines as a result of their inclusion in the supply chain domain. Several trends have been born from this event demonstrating the impact of technology on supply chain management.

We will conclude this article by examining those trends in supply chain technologies.

In the supply chain, new technologies are trending

The transformation of the supply chain during and after COVID is remarkable. Disruptions in supply chains cannot be ignored. We are only a few steps away from fully digitizing supply chains, with technologies such as artificial intelligence in supply chains, IoT, cloud computing, robotics, and blockchain becoming more prominent in the industry.

These are some of the trends Gartner documented in its report on ‘Supply Chain Digital Transformation’.

supply-chain-technology

As we have seen above, supply chain disruption trends are only a surface-level transformation that the space is about to undergo. As next-generation technologies become increasingly adopted in the domain, businesses, especially those in manufacturing and logistics, will become more efficient soon.

In goods-driven industries, investing in the right technology becomes crucial – something that supply chain app experts like Revinfotech can assist with. Our focus is on designing supply chain solutions based on digital transformation consulting and engineering.

In addition to AI, blockchain, IoT, and robotic process automation, our team of development experts knows how to implement next-generation technologies.

As part of an intelligent supply chain software project we completed with a global manufacturer of heavy construction and mining equipment, we helped them become more responsive to the needs of their clients. Furthermore, by adding the process automation facility, we enabled their employees to focus on other aspects of the job instead of mundane tasks, which resulted in improved productivity and efficiency.

Let’s discuss how technology helps supply chains today and get started on your supply chain journey.

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Harmeet Kaur
Article written by

Harmeet Kaur

Experienced Technical Recruiter with a demonstrated history of working in the information services industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Microsoft Excel, HR Consulting, Technical Support, and Microsoft Word. Strong human resources professional with a Bac... read more

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