Many trends and approaches have appeared in the last few years when it comes to managing your supply chain. Examples can be seen everywhere. Some companies cope with these trends in a very good way, whatever their strategy to do so is not being debated right now; and other companies just cannot keep up with reality and fail dismally or get really hung back, again, for whatever reasons.
Either way, in order to avoid bankruptcy, disappearing from the market or just avoid having the worst years of your corporate life, companies and logistics professionals have to be aware of the sector´s trends and many other dynamics that are coming to sector in the years to come.
The 2 trends that we are talking about have to do with technological advances and are as follows:
Supply Chains will aim to Go Digital
Technology has brought a new wave of productivity by digitizing key financial and business processes and enabling collaboration across the organization. It is not an exception for supply chains where it is now going towards a digital community of partners executing coordinated processes in a more organized and informed way than in the past. Technology is now a big part of every process within the organization and traditional operations are being changed, and now every business is a digital business.
Many companies and CEOs understand the elemental nature of these changes and are already working to introduce digital technology into their operations. But, just having digital technology in the process is not the answer. The trend is now pointing at a digital technology that creates significant improvement in business outcomes. If companies want to keep up with such trend they will need to reinvent their supply chain strategy; reimagine supply chain as a digital supply network (DSN) that unites not just physical flows but also talent, information and finance and be more connected, intelligent, scalable and rapid than traditional supply chain management styles. All these technology changes and digital supply chains need to be entirely digital and not only enhanced by digitalization because they will see immediate improvement in developing new synergies, relating more fully to customers, reaching new markets and quickly building and scaling new offerings.
Augmented Reality AR
Augmented reality is exactly a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. This applied to the supply chain management world has the following benefits that will be something people will talk about in 2016:
Picking Optimization: Each picker sees a ‘digital picking list’ on a display. When someone selects an item, the display calculates the most efficient path through the warehouse, guides that person to the package, scans it as ‘picked’ into the Warehouse Management System, and immediately directs the picker to the next closest package.
Facility Planning: augmented reality arrived to architecture many years ago. But this time, people will be able to visualize their next warehouse in full-scale before even beginning construction. Furthermore, you can make the warehouse fully operational even before paying anything, when it is still in baby steps. You can model workflows through the facility, test measurements, even “field test” rearrangement. This will not only save you money, but it will also allow you to see and understand your entire operation before actually getting into it
Freight/Container loading: it is very simple but augmented reality will make physical cargo lists and load instructions a thing of the past. Heads-up displays will replace these sheets by showing instructions on the display with step-by-step instructions on how to most efficiently load a container given the size, dimensions, and weight of the packages going into it.
Dynamic Traffic Support: of course all the trucks already are equipped with GPS navigation, but AR systems are the natural step to follow. For example, heads-up and windshield displays would allow carriers to efficiently re-route shipments without causing any significant distraction to the driver and by just sending a message that can easily be read from their seat. Another example is that AR can show in real time critical information including cargo temperature (especially important when transporting medical devices or other fragile goods), gasoline efficiency (which changes based on the weight of the truck), and many more things needed to effectively transport cargo.
The digitalization of supply chains is inevitable and augmented reality is only the next logical step that will follow after GPS localization technology. If you want to be among the winners, you need to get on the highway and go fast and start making the proper changes, and use technology to employ comprehensive solutions that support the entire source-to-settle process and create value for all parties involved in it, so your company does not fall behind.