Supply Chain Management: Top Innovative Solutions of 2021
Supply chain management in times of the pandemic is harder than ever. The hardships of the previous year brought the realization that the supply chain needs to be modernized. There are some innovative solutions that gained particular popularity amongst the supply chain market. We brought them together in this article.
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been a strong trend in the optimization of the supply chain for the past few years. In times of COVID-19 disruptions, AI helps to keep the supply chain agile.
AI takes into account previous data and automates the processes using algorithms. It can be used in such areas as inventory management, transportation, customer experience, sales, etc. AI automation makes supply chain management more efficient, reducing manual administrative tasks and eliminating human errors. It also helps to identify weak spots in the patterns of your work process.
In logistics and supply chain management, demand forecasting plays a vital role, and AI makes it an easy task, offering insights for timely and accurate product replenishment. There are also some AI solutions that optimize the delivery process by choosing the routing according to the weather, road conditions and traffic situation.
The popularity of robotics can be intimidating, because robots replace human workers, and it may seem like soon there will be no tasks left for humans. However, robotic process automation is used to take care of mundane, repetitive tasks that take a lot of time and energy, leaving more important, creative tasks for human employees to do.
Manufacturing on the ever-growing scale of today’s society couldn’t be possible without robotics. Robots are far more durable and faster than humans, which is why they create a more efficient workflow. They also can be programmed to work 24/7, increasing the manufacturing volumes even more.
Transportation and warehousing also benefit from robots. They help to pick and pack parcels, place goods on the shelves, lift and move heavy goods. Driverless vehicles and drones can perform last-mile delivery.
As the environmental concerns grow with each year, sustainability becomes more popular among buyers – and a necessity for logistics and supply chain management. People are even willing to pay more for eco-friendly products, and companies see the rise in profitability after adopting sustainable solutions.
Transportation takes a huge toll on the environment, being one of the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce their carbon footprint, lots of logistics companies start using electric or solar-powered vehicles.
Warehouses need lots of resources to function. To make them more eco-friendly, businesses implement energy management systems. These systems monitor and control the amount of electricity, heat, and other resources that are spent in warehouses, helping to prevent excessive waste.
Manufacturers are also contributing for the supply chain to be more sustainable. They are adopting circular supply chain management in their work. This approach is about recycling and reusing materials to produce new products, rather than making new material each time. This leads to considerable waste reduction, as well as higher profitability for manufacturers in the long run.
The pandemic showed that business needs to be flexible, but, unfortunately, supply chain management still isn’t. Disruptions in transportation made it hard for the manufacturers to get much needed materials, and the factories got frozen. Elastic logistics is what helps companies in times of instability by providing an easy way to upscale or downscale a company’s operations according to the situation.
Some of the examples of elastic logistics are on-demand warehousing and on-demand vehicles. The first solution allows companies to meet the customers’ expectations during the short-term rise in demand by giving an extra storage space, which is paid for only when used. The second one helps to eliminate the downtime of the unused vehicles.
Coreteka is on board with elastic logistics and has developed a mobile app for on-demand delivery. Unify is an app for companies and drivers, helping companies to quickly find a suitable and available transporter for their goods and drivers to minimize their downtime by giving a platform to display their services.
The ability to quickly adjust to whatever the circumstances bring to the table is what makes logistics and supply chain management stronger and more stable.
As the supply chain is a complex system, the visibility of the supply chain management is still not the best.
Blockchain technology helps to integrate all parts of the supply chain into a single platform. Such an integration streamlines the processes and unites the separate companies, giving manufacturers, logistic providers and retailers a simpler way of communication. Such a platform makes the end-to-end shipping process transparent. Invoicing and other document flow can also be processed using blockchain technology.
Blockchain also heightens the information security level. Decentralization of data protects valuable information from accidental or unnecessary edits, as all parties must agree to the updates for them to be integrated.
Internet of Things (IoT) is the connection between physical devices that monitor and send information to the internet. IoT technology brings real-time visibility to supply chain management.
IoT can be used for effective fleet management. For this, the sensors are installed on the vehicles to give live tracking updates about shipping. That’s not the only information that can be given by sensors. They can monitor fuel levels and consumption, vehicle performance and condition, and send critical alerts if something is not right. IoT in warehouses helps to manage inventory. Also read about supply chain traceability.
Not only the data gathered by IoT devices brings transparency to the business, but it can also be analyzed to make predictions and data-driven business decisions.
As we can see, the most popular innovative solutions of 2021 reflect the current circumstances and the effects of COVID-19. They are all about optimization, visibility and flexibility. In order to evolve and stay competitive, businesses should follow these trends, implementing not one, but better multiple innovations in their workflow.
Innovations in logistics and supply chain management are the key points of Coreteka’s work. We strive to bring optimization, visibility and agility into the work processes of our clients with our software solutions.
If your supply chain needs innovative solutions, contact us!