Integrative Improvement Blog

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4 smart supply chain technologies to bolster your bottom line

4 smart supply chain technologies to bolster your bottom line

Supply chains have always been one of the key beneficiaries of digital progress. The advent of the internet, in particular, represented a massive turning point in how goods are moved, managed and monitored. In this blog, we explore the benefits that digitalisation, bolstered by the smart usage of new supply chain technologies, is bringing to the table in terms of increased profitability and reduced waste.

While global supply chains are becoming more complex and interconnected every day, the basic supply chain processes remain the same. Forecasts must be made. Suppliers must be selected, qualified and approved. Contracts must be negotiated. Raw materials, goods and services must be ordered. Goods must be manufactured, shipped, and received.

But the technology that is behind making all these processes run is changing. Greater automation, more transparency, exhaustive connectivity, and massive analytical capability hold the promise of making the digital supply chain of the future more efficient and effective than ever before. To see some of the potential benefits, read the blog 5 reasons why your supply chain should go digital now.

Organisations such as Amazon are setting the standard when it comes to meeting consumers’ ever-growing expectations. Regardless of industry or brand, everyone is feeling the pressure to maintain the highest levels of customer experience, and that applies whether you’re servicing a business customer or an end consumer. With that in mind, understanding the technologies that are coming to define supply chains in the short- and medium-term is essential.

Following are four innovative supply chain technologies that will transform your processes and deliver greater value:

1. The advent of blockchain

Perhaps the most important development in the modern supply chain is the march towards visibility and transparency. That’s why blockchain technology is gaining momentum – it promises unprecedented levels of trust and visibility within supply chain transactions.

By design, anything recorded on a blockchain cannot be altered, meaning that there are cast-iron records of where each asset has been, which would make the visibility element of logistics much easier to maintain. By applying blockchain, data will be more interoperable, which makes it easier for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and vendors to share information and prevent delays along the chain. It will also improve the tracing of products from the manufacturer level all the way to the shelves.

4 smart supply chain technologies to bolster your bottom line 2. Creating a digital twin

The digital twin concept has most often been applied to assets. The premise behind the concept is that each system has two components ― the physical system that has always existed, and a new virtual system that contains all the information about the physical system. The asset model relies on machine learning to improve the forecasting of machine downtime over time.

In terms of supply chain planning, factory machinery is the key area where an asset’s failure leads to increased manufacturing costs and service failures for customers. The supply chain model doesn’t look to predict asset failures, but it does seek to use the digital twin maintenance model’s inputs to improve factory scheduling. By creating a digital twin of the physical supply chain, operational managers can analyse and understand entire situations, systems, and processes digitally so they can make decisions even before incidents are allowed to disrupt the operation.

3. Using big data to derive big insights

In conjunction with the latest analytics technology, big data enables organisations to quickly gain useful knowledge from massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. These organisations rely on machine learning technology to automatically run reports, alert executives of disruptions and, in some cases, independently suggest changes to optimise processes.

Organisations that properly implement big data will continue in newfound efficiency, and will remain competitive, more streamlined, responsive and proactive in the face of supply chain disruptions.

4. Meeting growing demand with IoT devices

In addition to investing in a digital supply network, the leading supply chain players are also investing heavily in new waves of fulfilment, automation, delivery technologies, and IoT devices. This includes having sensors that provide visibility of items in transit, cloud platforms for fleet management optimisation, driverless vehicles, and drone deliveries. Real-time asset tracking, monitoring, and alerting keep businesses running with minimal disruption.

This real-time data can help third-party logistics companies, for example, choose more efficient routes, pay lower fuel costs, manage drivers’ time, and organise head counts. Ultimately, this will optimise fleet availability, efficiency, and reliability while meeting more demanding service level agreements.

Supply chain organisations that adopt transparency, comprehensive analytics, and cognitive technologies will have a distinct competitive advantage. And, ultimately, these supply chain technologies will provide today’s consumer with better, faster, and cheaper fulfilment options.

The TRACC framework helps organisations build standardised and integrated good practice and performance capacity across their Plan, Source, Make and Deliver functions. Simultaneously it accelerates their collaboration and alignment capacity to build world class end-to-end value chains, enabling the organisation itself to become the ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage.
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