The Digital Age is the new normal, and technology has wound its way in to every aspect of our lives. It’s no different for the Supply Chain. The internet is transforming the way supply chains operate, making them more efficient and seamless. The internet is revolutionising the supply chain.
The Internet of Things and the Supply Chain
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging topic of technical, social, and economic significance. Consumer products, durable goods, cars and trucks, industrial and utility components, sensors, and other everyday objects are being combined with Internet connectivity and powerful data analytic capabilities that promise to transform the way we work, live, and play. (www.internetsociety.org)
Every element of daily life is now being changed radically due to the IoT. For the Supply Chain this means extreme changes are underway in all elements from inventory management to logistics, and from manufacturing to new product development. As the internet and cloud-based services become fused to these processes, each element of the supply chain becomes more seamless with each other. The result is an optimised chain that minimises risk and rides the peaks and troughs of supply and demand with greater agility.
The Smart Warehouse
Perhaps the easiest way to envisage this is the ‘smart warehouse’. Smart warehouses take available technology and the internet to have systems that are less laborious than traditional warehouse systems. Human error and time-wasting are removed from the equation. According to a report by Zebra Technologies, 7 out of 10 decision-makers with jurisdiction over supply chains aim to accelerate their use of technology in order to create smart warehouses by 2020 (Zebra Technologies). Supply chain managers need to be ahead of the game if they want to succeed in the transformed landscape in just a few short years.
The Benefits of the Internet Transforming the Supply Chain
Tighter integration between the different elements of the supply chain enabled by the Internet of Things brings with it a raft of benefits to the savvy supply chain manager. Insight-driven supply chains are always the most efficient and optimised, yet gaining the required insight has traditionally been a tall order. Via the internet, data is now more readily available, accurate, and able to be shared across the chain as required making for better insight driven processes.
This, in turn, enables the supply chain to cope better with the volatility of demand. This is absolutely crucial in a global marketplace where consumer demand and expectations are increasing. With careful integration of the IoT into the supply chain, supply chain managers can create a distinct USP to improve customer experience. Technological advances can improve accuracy, shorten delivery times, even reduce out of stock situations, as well as giving greater visibility across the chain.
The Bottom Line
If you need further justification to get on board with the Internet of Things in the Supply Chain then you need only consider your bottom line. Supply chain margins are forever being squashed and cost efficiencies are the difference between a booming business and one struggling to survive. Cost optimisation by utilising the IoT in the supply chain makes for a more profitable supply chain overall.