CS Ellis: Four ways to digitise the supply chain
Digitisation can make your organisation's supply chain far more efficient, cost-effective, and, above all, customer driven. While all the while ensuring that your business remains at the very forefront of the evolutions in the industry.
If you think that terms such as IoT, AI and big data are just buzzwords, you'd be wrong to distance them from your supply chain and logistic operations. Once these associated technologies come together, they're capable of creating a digital supply that's more efficient, cheaper and more productive than any supply chain management techniques you've undertaken previously.
Of course, that’s not to say that digitisation has not posed new challenges for many organisations, which have suddenly found themselves in a position where they need to adapt quickly in the face of global trade shifts and changing customer expectations. COVID-19 and Brexit are just two such examples.
However, significant changes will always create enormous challenges, particularly when an area as vital as the supply chain is concerned. Turning good ideas into real value, without risking the chain's integrity, needs to be thought about very carefully.
To start turning these great ideas into tangible value for the business, you should consider these four options to begin turning your operation digital.
#1: Incorporating Track and Trace Technology
The demand for real-time supply chain updates, particularly in the face of the COVID pandemic, is at an all-time high at the moment. It's not enough for an organisation to know when orders left their premises in the hope that shipments will arrive at their destination in one piece.
#2: RFID, Bluetooth and 3D Printing
(RFID) and Bluetooth tech are now considered the minimum requirements for a business that seeks a more efficient supply chain – these help track inventory movement throughout a warehouse or factory and are beneficial during the picking and packing process.
3D printers can generate the readable sensor tags that are tracked by Bluetooth or RFID technology. By attaching these to inventory you can monitor the location, temperature, and humidity level of a product – this is obviously especially key when it comes to dealing with perishable items.
When combining these technologies, organisations gain greater visibility over the entire supply chain range, including transportation networks and cargo handling.
These days automated robotic solutions working alongside your workforce is no longer consigned to the annuls of a good sci-fi novel.
In many scenarios, implementing automation solutions can reduce and improve the division of labour. With less reliance on human intervention in roles that can be completely automated, it means that you can use human experience to improve other areas of your organisation.
#4: Embracing Industry 4.0 Evolutions
A modern supply chain can be broken down into siloed stages which incorporate marketing, development, manufacturing and distribution until it finally reaches the end-customer.
Digitalisation brings down the walls around these seemingly separate entities and creates a completely integrated ecosystem that gives all the players involved a completely transparent picture of what is happening. Therefore, every touchpoint from manufacturing and logistics to suppliers and the consumer will have some notion of the goings-on at every point along the way.
As per the Forbes article, 9% of businesses with the most sophisticated digitisation levels are moving ahead of the pack in terms of reaping the most significant rewards.
So, the question is, can your organisation risk falling further behind?