Efficient supply chain management is integral to the proper functioning of any organization. Gaps in the supply chain can lead to delays in production and order delivery. They can take a toll on customer satisfaction and brand reputation as well.
Whether you’re running an e-commerce business or a brick-and-mortar retail store, you must be on the lookout for ways to optimize supply chain operations. That’s where automation steps into the picture.
The Role of Automation in Supply Chain Management
The right use of automation can go a long way to minimize delays and errors in the supply chain. Also, it’ll enhance the sustainability of the supply chain and prevent product wastage/spillage. It improves visibility and breaks silos across the supply chain.
In fact, according to a recent survey by EY US, more than half of the respondents reported that they’re already using autonomous supply chains or will do so by 2025. It isn’t surprising considering the increased emphasis on the digital transformation of new-age businesses.
But automating supply chain management isn’t simply about bringing a few robots into warehouses. Instead, it involves identifying and deploying the right tech innovations to improve visibility, efficiency, and safety across the supply chain.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at a few important applications of automation in supply chain management. Let’s get started.
Automated Labeling Systems
Labels play a key part in ensuring seamless supply chain operations. Whether you want to specify the recipient’s address and name or add safe handling instructions for workers, labels are integral to every stage of supply chain management.
But the traditional approach of manually printing and applying labels to products and packaging is time-consuming and inefficient. Also, it’s prone to human error.
That’s why new-age supply chain leaders are transitioning to fully automatic labeling machines. Automated print and apply labeling systems save your staff from the hassle of performing menial tasks. Instead, they can use their time to figure out new ways to improve supply chain efficiency.
Also, automated labeling solutions eliminate human error from the process. The increased accuracy directly translates to higher speed and better order fulfillment. This, in turn, helps improve the overall customer experience.
Robots doing the heavy lifting in warehouses alongside human workers isn’t a new phenomenon. But research is already underway to automate other parts of the supply chain, particularly transportation.
Manually transporting raw materials and finished goods across various locations is a slow process. Also, it isn’t the best way to utilize the available resources and manpower.
That’s particularly crucial considering the ongoing labor shortage that’s been threatening manufacturing and supply chain operations across the globe.
An effective solution for tackling this problem is to use automated trucking. While self-driving trucks are yet to become commonplace, they’re already being used by a few companies. Large-scale use of driverless trucks can go a long way to improve manpower utilization.
Additionally, new-age manual trucks are equipped with onboard automation tools that help drivers better plan and optimize their routes. Also, these tools transmit relevant on-road data to managers, who can use the data to develop safer and more efficient trucking practices.
One of the biggest challenges of traditional supply chain management is the presence of silos at every stage. Warehouse staff often have barely any idea of how a product is being delivered to the end customer. Similarly, last-mile delivery providers don’t have a hint of all the activities involved in inventory management.
Predictive analytics – an application of artificial intelligence (AI) – can be instrumental in creating a transparent supply chain. It involves the use of sensors and other devices to collect data from various sources. Thereafter, the data is analyzed and converted into relevant actionable insights for each department.
That means workers at every level of the supply chain will have a clear idea of the location and condition of individual products. Predictive analytics solutions can even identify anomalies in the supply chain, and alert the concerned departments. It helps prevent product wastage and enhances order fulfillment.
Similarly, AI/ML algorithms can be used to optimize inventory management. They can analyze consumer behavior and purchase patterns to generate accurate predictions about product demand. This, in turn, will help manufacturers and supply chain managers decide which product stocks are to be replenished.
Upgrade Your Supply Chain Operations
Automation has become integral to various aspects of running a business, including supply chain management. From automated labeling systems to predictive analytics algorithms – automated can go a long way to minimize delays and errors in the supply chain, thus skyrocketing efficiency and customer satisfaction.