Is the supply chain industry changing? 94% of supply chain leaders say technology in retail is changing the supply chain industry. However, only 44% are ready for these changes.
Technology in retail is changing. New software, AI solutions, and robotics are the game-changers. They will significantly increase the efficiency of companies that adopt them.
If you are a small-to-medium (SME) sized company you may be wondering what trends should you be watching?
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is far more than just a buzzword. AI will have serious implications for supply chain automation. The potential that AI holds when combined with human collaboration is truly impressive.
AI is capable of both analyzing supply chain routes and identifying inefficiencies. Using this data as a model it can create processes. These may be processes such as demand forecasting, production planning, and predictive maintenance.
AI retains a record of successful human decisions. From this, it can accurately suggest and implement solutions faster than human workers.
On advantage that AI is the sheer volume of data it can handle. It can handle and compute calculations at a speed far faster than humans. This means faster creation of models of future performance.
Companies can analyze data regarding deliveries. They can use it to predict faster trucking routes and more efficient use of fuel.
Logistics companies can employ AI to prevent machine failure affecting the supply chain. It can predict the wearing of physical parts of crucial equipment. This means that they can replace parts during routine maintenance. this is more cost-effective than during a costly breakdown.
What good is data if users cannot analyze and employe it. The impact of analytics driven by data acquired by AI are now on a more advanced scale than before. Their application will have a great impact on the supply chain.
The employment of analytics is already in use in some areas. Companies are employing dynamic pricing and dynamic sales based on realtime data.
Analytics lead to a better understanding of the supply chain. This is even its granular elements. This understanding leads to higher efficiency even in small areas. The overall savings from this efficiency can then be spread across the supply chain.
This means that it will be attractive to businesses of all sizes. It will even be available to smaller businesses.
Companies are already rolling out Robotic Process Automation in facilities across the world. They are bringing greater efficiency to human performed tasks.
Robots and drones are widely applied already. They assist with the checking of inventory, lifting of heavy materials. They can even connect physical actions (such as stacking materials) and software applications.
Famously, Amazon is developing delivery drone technology. They promise their delivery service will bring light items in under 30 minutes.
4. Autonomous Devices
Robotics offers many options in assisting humans to perform even complex tasks. The possibility of fully autonomous robots is also very real.
One company has even opened the first humanless warehouse in Tokyo, Japan. This not a simple experiment. The warehouse is 40.000 sq. metres and has 20 conveyor belts. Experts predict that humanless farms will be the next stage.
The recent explosion of connected devices has given rise to this trend. Lifting and stacking robots are becoming more and more common in warehousing globally
Companies not only employ robots to perform repetitive tasks. Thanks to high resolutions cameras they are able to make “decisions” and “judgments” regarding the quality of goods in storage. In other cases, they are able to use imaging to perform inventory checks much more quickly than humans.
Currently, technology and federal laws limit the ability of robots to provide delivery solutions. Even Amazon delivery drones are unable to provide shipping of large items. Currently, its limit is a 15-mile radius and packages can weigh up to 15 pounds.
Analytics, AI, and robots work together. Analytics improve the abilities of robots to perform physical tasks. AI computes and understands even large amounts of data easily and quickly. These three tools together will profoundly change the supply chain industry over the next 20 years.
Supply chain management is crucial to business and global retail. Technology in retail is changing and bringing opportunities never before available.
Every SME enterprise is looking to optimize supply chain processes and increase efficiency. We’re here to help.
We provide national and international trucking and logistics solutions to SME companies. We are a forward-thinking organization who is looking to provide the latest in supply chain technology to our customers.