Today’s Technological Environment In a society that relies heavily on technology, advancements are being implemented in all aspects of our lives whether we see it or not. To have everyday items available at local stores, the supply chain process has had to adapt to the technology shift in order to keep up with increasing customer demands. No longer are the days of ordering products and blindly waiting for them to arrive. The industry shift is now focused on minute-to-minute in-transit tracking and inventory planning technologies. Below we explore the advantages and uses of several common supply chain technologies seen in use today.
EDI EDI (electronic data interchange) technology has grown in popularity with companies working to create a seamless information sharing process. Having the ability to receive automatic updates from suppliers and customers increases the ability to respond quickly to sudden changes or manual errors. It also enables companies to eliminate non-value-adding processes that could be slowing down the ordering and production cycle. With the ability to flow information to your business partners with a quick motion, your efforts can be focused back on the core competencies.
Booking/Brokerage Booking freight has developed into a process that allows brokers and shippers the opportunity to find the best shipping option at the preferred cost. Utilizing load boards and network connections, searchers are able to locate options that align with their goals in order to secure freight movement well ahead of the pickup date. Working to create a network filled with preferred carriers, customers can now build up a book of reputable shipping options to secure future loads.
Warehouse Technology Technology has advanced creating the ability to quickly process orders, and execute product fulfillment, in a more efficient manner. With that, warehouses have implemented fulfillment technologies that have increased productivity with accuracy. Options range from advanced lighting techniques that help guide employees to the correct picking actions, to warehouse robotics that are able to mimic the actions of a human employee. There are also technology options that can be connected to each package, such as RFID tags and barcodes, that operate as tracking system with the connected scanners.
Tracking In-Transit Loads Knowing where your freight is located and the time it will arrive at your production facility may be critical for continuous operations. Having the visibility to see exactly where freight is located has become an option for most shippers. A growing number of trucks are now equipped with GPS technology that can be connected to company software for precise location data. There have also been developments that allow drivers to sync their cell phones to apps that use the GPS technology giving access to location without the large investment.
Autonomous Trucks Developments surrounding autonomous vehicles have gained traction in the past years. Working to close the gap of driver shortages, companies have been developing systems that would allow semi-trucks to operate without the need for a driver. The advancements in technology are focusing on the development of trucks being able to navigate traffic and accidents in real time, with a focus on safety measures. There is hope for the industry that within the next decade autonomous trucks will be available for freight shipping options.
Analytics Data reporting in the logistics industry is being used to evaluate all aspects of the supply chain. Starting with reports analyzing the cost of freight movement, companies are able to dive into the options for carriers and transportation modes. Processes can be used to determine where in the supply chain actions are costing the company money and where cost-saving initiatives can be implemented. After lanes are running, analysis can be done that look for future improvements and ways to operate on a more efficient level. Technology has allowed companies to make advancements in their operations and find ways to improve the old supply chain processes. With continuous innovations, there is a vast array of options for companies to implement and find one that is a perfect fit.