It’s safe to say that most people realize the benefit of supply chains. Pretty much everything a person living in an industrialized city or country encounters in their day-to-day life encountered a supply chain.
From fancy new technologies such as the latest Apple products to the Starbuck’s grande coffee someone orders and pretty much everything found under the Christmas tree is a result of the supply chain.
It can be easy to take the benefits of supply chains for granted as their effects are so universal and pervasive in our lives. However, it is important to remember that the technology and structure that the logistics industry is based on is continuously evolving and looking for new ways to improve.
Three different ways that supply chain technology connects the world are: software technology, hardware technology and digitalization. These three sectors of the supply chain technology work together to bring the world closer together and also make it more awesome!
1. Software technology
Software technology has had a great impact on the infrastructure of logistics: it has greatly improved areas of processing, tracking transactions, planning, scheduling and managing. Due to collaboration with software technology, the supply chain is truly integrated, visible and more efficient.
According to Melissa Jun Rowley, in her Cisco article titled Supply chain digitization and positive impact, software technology has impacted supply chains in the following ways:
- Transaction processing — Reducing manual work and costs, improvement of information quality, speeding up of information transfer and having a higher volume of transactions used to drive the use of IT for transaction processing,
- Supply chain planning and collaboration — Information is used for running processes such as demand forecasting, production and distribution planning, procurement, sales & operations planning (S&OP), as well as VMI and CPFR initiatives that benefit both a company’s internal and external supply chains,
- Order tracking and delivery coordination — For tracking the progress of orders or deliveries and providing this information to interested parties,
- Supply chain analytics — Provides supply chain members with improved data accuracy, clarity and insights, which can lead to more contextual intelligence to be shared across supply chains.
2. Hardware technology
It’s difficult to believe that many of the gadgets from popular sci-fi shows of old such as Star Trek, that were once non-existent, are now common place in distribution and fulfillment operations. Automated equipment ranging from forklift trucks and carousels to Kiva robots move material quickly and efficiently through a facility to satisfy customer orders (rather than plotting the downfall of humanity). Other tools such as bar code scanning and RFID increase not only speed of processing but also accuracy to a degree far beyond the capabilities of their pen, paper, and human predecessors.
Likewise, in the world of transportation, GPS and telematics now provide data that improves the efficiency of product delivery. Where a driver once fumbled with a map when delivering cargo to a new location or site, now he or she can check the GPS for the optimal route.
The digitalization of the world (the Internet) has helped enable consumers to be informed about the products they purchase. NGOs, consumer groups, and individual consumers can analyze data through website and mobile apps to see which brands are sustainability-conscious.
Workers can also utilize mobile apps to report work-related grievances.
Supply chains make the world go round, that’s plain to see for anyone living in an industrialized community. What’s important to remember is that thanks to the continuously evolving technology that they’re built on, it’s also making logistics more efficient.
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