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Emerging Supply Chain Technologies for Gaining a Competitive Advantage

supply chain technologies

Over the years, the supply chain world has constantly been evolving thanks to an influx of innovative emerging technologies. Some factors that have driven these improvements are high customer demand, globalization, and product complexity. As a result, companies have to stay ahead of the curve and keep improving delivery times, optimizing prices, and looking for ways to be more ecologically conscious. 

Additionally, the many aspects of supply chains are constantly changing – companies must keep up with local and global public policy changes while keeping track of new technology, regulations, and market trends. To stay competitive, businesses have to adapt quickly and respond intelligently to the ever-changing landscape.

To gain a competitive advantage and ensure you optimize your supply chain as best as possible, you should keep up with trends and emerging supply chain technologies. For that reason, we will present an overview of the technologies you should consider in the future. 

What Is Supply Chain Technology and Why Is It Important?

Supply chain technology includes all the processes involved in getting goods from the manufacturer to the customer. That means everything from raw materials to the manufacturing process to delivery to billing. To be successful, you need to know what happens at each step along the way. If something goes wrong, you may lose money or, worse yet, damage your reputation.

A supply chain management system helps track inventory throughout the entire production cycle. This information allows for better planning and improved efficiency. If you want to learn about supply chain in greater detail, you can read our comprehensiveguide to logistics and supply chain management.

Common Trends in Supply Chain Management

Across the board, all supply chain leaders are looking for ways to enhance their operations and utilize the best strategies. As a result, certain foolproof methods have been widely adopted within the industry.

  • Visibility - Real-time data in all stages of the supply chain is highly valued as it gives customers all the information about your products, which allows them to make an informed decision. It helps the company maintain control, solve problems more efficiently and implement new policies and regulations.
  • Predictive strategies - Implementing strategies that help you predict future situations and customer behavior enables you to solve problems in advance and meet future demands. Essentially, this means you will be ready for anything.
  • Data teams - Because of the immense amount of data in supply chain management, recruiting data teams is a clever idea. They will analyze data, provide you with insights, and optimize and recommend growth strategies.

Latest Technologies in Supply Chain 

IoT - The Internet of Things

IoT refers to the network of physical objects or devices embedded with sensors and software to send information about their status and location to computers and other connected devices. An example would be a sensor-equipped thermostat that could automatically turn off the heat if no one was present.

Spending on IoT is anticipated to rise globally going forward. By communicating information and offering insights, finished goods, transportation, and warehousing will improve conventional supply chain operations.

It is anticipated that discrete manufacturers, process manufacturers, and transportation businesses will invest the most in IoT deployments. These industries will primarily use IoT for supporting manufacturing operations and managing production assets, as well as fleet management and freight monitoring within transportation.

For instance, by using AI and advanced analytics to track location, weather, traffic, and environmental patterns, suppliers can assess whether they need to reroute the delivery to a different distribution hub.

In addition to preventing lost shipments and missing inventory, the ability to track assets throughout the logistics process lowers risk and revenue loss. Asset tracking is especially beneficial and important when it comes to high-value shipments. 

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

The industry has extensive data and intricate global networks that it can employ to understand all the available information. By using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, companies can speed up delivery time, automate warehousing activities, manage inventory, improve customer satisfaction, and boost sales. 

When talking about the up-and-coming technologies in supply chain, mentioning AI and machine learning is inevitable. These technologies can help companies comprehend the vast amount of available data without much human interference. Advanced algorithms and predictive strategies enable businesses to go through the data and gain knowledge and insights much quicker precisely because human intervention isn't necessary. 

When you consider all the ways that predictive analytics improve businesses, it is easy to see why so many companies are investing in them. Here are a few key factors:

  • You will see an improvement in customer experience because data helps youcreate a customer-centric supply chain.
  • You'll notice additional enhancements in strategic sourcing, real-time product intelligence, and optimized inventory.
  • And most of all, the majority of companies claim to experience a reduction in costs. 

Using Robots 

The use of robots in the supply chain industry is not a new phenomenon. In fact, robots have been used for decades to move goods in the warehouse during transportation and fulfillment. However, artificial intelligence is becoming more advanced by the day, and consequently, they are becoming even more prevalent in the industry. 

With the evolution of AI, robots will be able to replace humans in certain manual tasks, such as picking orders and packing shipments. Combining the abovementioned IoT, AI, and machine learning leads to the precision and mobility of industrial robots reaching new heights. 

Furthermore, it helps to ensure safety and makes it possible for a new generation of collaborative robots to work alongside people rather than isolating them in a separate safety zone.

The possibility of collaboration between robots and humans leads to large-scale deployments in the supply chain. Because of that, most warehouse operations use robots and situational data analytics since they help boost warehouse capacity, aid in storage management, and reduce the workload associated with backorder processing by 50%.

Because AI robotic automation is a sure way to increase productivity and improve the process, this is a popular technology in the supply chain, and over 50% of global manufacturers are investing in it. 

3D Printing

More and more attention is being brought to 3D printing. The main reasons for this are: 

  1. Customers' desire for personalized products
  2. The transition to local and made-to-order production.

Hence why supply chain players have been investing more and more in emerging technologies that allow them to decentralize production. Manufacturing products locally is a desirable innovation because it improves the supply chain process in many ways: 

  • Lower transportation costs
  • Cutting back on logistics expenses
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Faster production
  • Reduced outsourcing costs.

Companies can now make completely functional parts, not just prototypes, that are lighter with less material waste than was previously conceivable. All this is thanks to advancements in materials, less expensive gear, and new AI-driven software design tools. 

Moreover, switching to on-demand production means that companies are spending less on excessive warehouse space and inventory. So, this is just one way that technology can improve the production of goods.

Blockchain Technologies (DLT)

Blockchain technologies are most commonly associated with cryptocurrencies. But DLT (distributed ledger technology) is a strong contender for bringing improved transparency and visibility to supply chain technologies. 

All parties in the supply chain are held accountable thanks to blockchain, which creates a transparent record of transactions. It is such a revolutionary technology because of its security and incorruptibility.

Compared to more conventional methods like email or electronic document keeping, the technology can produce audit trails that are much more advanced. Additionally, blockchain makes it easier for track-and-trace applications to help firms track the chain of custody for their products. As a result, businesses can spot fraud and counterfeit goods, show that legal requirements are met, promote transparency in the sourcing sector, identify risky suppliers and stop leaks.

Optimize Your Supply Chain by Working With a Reliable Logistics Partner

In any supply chain, having a reliable logistics partner is the key to successful and timely distribution. Ensuring that your logistics operations are running efficiently will help you cut back on costs, improve customer experience, and speed up your processes. UNIVAL Logistics is at your service if you’re looking for a logistics partner to optimize your supply chain.

We offer secure shipping services, but other than that, we minimize the risks of damages and loss. UNIVAL’s vehicles all have tracking systems, making it easy for you to track your shipments. We also offer API integration you can use for fast access to insurance and shipping solutions to optimize your operations further. 

If you want to ensure that your shipments are safe and insured, you should know that we offer full-value shipping insurance for high-value goods. So, in case of any shipping mishaps, you will have full coverage. Contact us today and make sure you are getting premium logistics services for your business!

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