Modern technology has rapidly become integrated into business, to the point it’s hard to imagine a normal workday without using a gadget or software program. In fact, entire companies and departments within companies couldn’t function without it.
In the supply chain industry, new technologies are always poised to considerably alter and disrupt. For example, state-of-the-art tracking software is already making for more efficient shipment delivery, schedule managing, cargo tracking and route planning.
Consider the following technologies that supply chain businesses should be welcoming with open arms.
While the internet has totally changed purchasing, a significant bottleneck in the logistics chain remains: human stock pickers.
Big internet retailers like Amazon depend on armies of stock pickers who travel miles every day through immense warehouses to collect shipping items. Amazon employs at least 80,000 stock pickers for the holiday season. The low-skill nature of these jobs makes a candidate target for automation.
Warehouse automation is already revolutionizing warehouse and logistics functions. Although no robot can pick and pack items with the pace and dependability of a human in an unstructured environment, the technology is developing rapidly. In 2015, Amazon held its annual Amazon Picking Challenge, which included robotics entries from 31 teams around the world.
In the near future, purchases will likely arrive untouched by human hands.
The ideal situation for a supply chain is total transparency.
Suppliers and procurement departments are more prone to trouble if they cloak dealings in secrecy, particularly with respect to environmental impact or social matters. Furthermore, buyers are more interested these days in the origins of raw materials and finished goods, including food items, clothing, automobiles and electronics. Total transparency enabled by technology would allow those in the supply chain to give information and respond to questions quickly and easily.
Several tech companies are working on software solutions that can summarize and tackle all questions that someone may have on the supply chain of any given item. This technology would, for instance, allow restaurants to list ingredients in a dish and tell customers where they from and how they were grown. This degree of transparency gives buyers a feeling of control, which is appealing for many discerning purchasers.
Many warehouses still use a document-based strategy for stock picking, which can be slow and cumbersome.
Augmented reality systems comprised of smart-glasses, a camera, wearable computer and a battery pack, permit warehouse employees to see a picking list and indoor navigation display. Workers can use this AR system to determine the optimal path to various items, considerably reducing travel time and boosting efficiency.
AR technology also offers the possibilities of real-time object recognition, barcode scanning and data integration with the warehouse management system to ensure the right items are being picked.
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