Top 10 Supply Chain Management Tools And Trends In 2020
The last few years have been nothing but a series of constant growth and development for the supply chain industry. Customer demands rise from time to time, and a lot more e-commerce businesses are on the hunt for distribution centers, warehouse spaces, and facilities to utilize.
As customer demands increase, so should a company’s priority for attaining excellent customer experience and quality products. And all these would not be possible without a proper supply chain management tool.
With that, here are top 10 supply chain management tools and trends in 2020 to help businesses further leverage their supply chain game:
1. Supply Chain Digitization
Operating an industrial warehouse is definitely not easy; hence, the need to incorporate digitization. Implementing digital technologies into the supply chain industry will continue to be a priority. Basically, the goal of digitization is to establish a smart and efficient supply chain ecosystem, demolishing traditional problems, creating transparency, and further enhancing responsiveness. This trend also envisions an enhanced digital environment that leverages manual processes.
2. Order Processing Tools
Order fulfillment and processing are immensely important to any supply chain, especially businesses with warehousing facilities. These tools support a variety of functions across order fulfillment and processing, like sales order processing, order management, billing, and order to cash. More importantly, these supply chain tools can significantly help automate a lot of activities, directly and accurately capturing real-time data. In turn, it also lessens the event of delays, damages, or errors that can possibly lead to unwanted downtime.
3. Analytics And Reports
Supply chain analytics and reports are crucial in building an e-commerce business. Analysis tools enable users to gain full access and visibility, not just in the physical realm of inventory but also the overall health and performance of a company. Analytics provide insights into the entire company, helping improve and develop services and operations that, in turn, will enhance customer experience.
4. Collaboration Portals
In addition to providing a hub for the whole management, modern-day supply chain monitoring tools will now also allow companies to work remotely on a project and collaborate with one another, no matter where they are. These portals help eliminate a variety of collaboration challenges that includes communication problems, time difference, delays in requisition and order, and many more issues. With portals, all parties can now have access to things like manufacturing processes, shipment history, schedules, product specifications, and purchase orders. Many businesses today are in favor of incorporating such portals into their day-to-day business operations as these support full supply chain visibility, allowing both companies and all their suppliers to stay up-to-date.
5. Security Features
Data theft can significantly impact a lot of supply chain businesses in the market. More than that, it can cause you to lose your hard-earned position in the market and damage your relationship with both your customers and suppliers. For instance, stolen demand forecasts will give your competitors insight into the interests and preferences of your target market; hence, they will be able to optimize their strategies to cater to new prospects. In turn, you can permanently lose your customers into the hands of competition.
In order to prevent these from happening, you should incorporate enhanced security features throughout all your data and cloud devices. Most security vendors today offer security assurances to let all clients know which efforts are effective in safeguarding one’s information. Avoid third-party vendors that provide low-security standards and measures and start investing in worthwhile tools and features.
6. Sensor Networks
Sensor networks are good indicators that warehouse spaces and other extensive facilities are finally in the automation process. This tool can help eliminate manual steps of the supply chain process at each stage of the entire production or manufacturing method. In turn, this can drastically reduce shortages, providing further benefits when it comes to stocking up and setting par levels. With the right infrastructure and products in place, sensor networks would store and make use of data for smarter product processing.
Since it debut in 2008, blockchain technology has grown into one of the biggest trends in many industries, such as the logistics and supply chain industry. Although many people are left confused and unable to grasp the entirety of this technology’s complicated concept.
As a refresher, blockchain technology refers to a cloud of transactions distributed among devices in a given network. Blockchain is known for its complete transparency, as everyone on the shared cloud has access to the same log of transactions. This is incredibly important for the supply chain industry as it eliminates the possibility of hackers getting into the system and compromising all crucial data needed for operations.
8. Artificial Intelligence And Augmented Reality
Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way to interfere in the logistics and supply chain industry. It is, in fact, already making a significant difference in the way logistics businesses operate. Combining with human intelligence, AIs are expected to further automate warehouse operations such as tracking, order picking, order fulfillment, and delivery, eliminating delays, damages, and errors.
Augmented reality (AR), on the other hand, dramatically helps in logistics planning. Using this can aid in the overall flexibility, responsibility, experience, and customer service of any e-commerce business. For example, instead of deploying newly-recruited employees into the field, companies can help reduce risks and accidents by first letting warehouse staff practice order picking through AR-generated apps on available devices, imitating the physical build of the facility and integrating related tasks and activities.
9. Warehouse Robotics
It is, without a doubt, that warehouse operations have undergone a significant technological shift in recent years. At such a time when technology is becoming more than just an option, but rather an inevitability, more and more e-commerce businesses are poised to adapt to such trends, changes, and tools, and warehouse robotics are definitely one of these things.
Whether it’s warehouse drones, wearable technology, driverless vehicles, or multifunctional robots, warehouse robotics can significantly enhance the overall efficiency and productivity of warehouse operations. This is because robotization ensures automation and extreme accuracy, which make up the future of modern warehouses. This also greatly improves customer experience as it can help reduce and eliminate damages, delays, downtimes, and errors.
10. Wireless Communication
Supply chain technologies are undeniably vital in improving product distribution. With wireless communication, supply chain management systems are now on the road to smart automation, especially for cataloging, monitoring, and tracking goods. Product logs and other information will also be automatically recorded, which, in turn, can reduce errors in a company’s catalog. Wireless communication tools and technologies like GPS and RFID are crucial in product monitoring and the overall safety of items.
Technology is slowly starting to shape both the present and the future of the logistics and supply chain industry. To embrace changes like this, businesses, especially in the e-commerce sector, are expected to follow the best practices suitable to their operations while allowing collaboration and innovation across their entire supply chain. More than anything, data is essential to this process, so a seamless connection and collaboration platform are essential in making better decisions and improving overall performance.
Angelo Castelda works as a contributor for a news magazine in Asia. On his free days, he likes to read books about the logistics industry and warehouse management. He also gets frequently invited to schools and universities to hold talks about the supply chain system and warehouse operations.