How Data Helps Overcome Supply Chain Issues
5 tips to help businesses manage critical supply chain issues.
Supply chain issues have plagued already weary communities since early in the pandemic. The pandemic created a convergence of events and circumstances that included decreased production, order backlogs, parts and component shortages, reliance on ecommerce, container bottlenecks and shortages, economic stimulus spending, international tensions, and labor shortages. The labor shortages have affected retail locations, the transportation industry, and warehouses and distribution centers.
The problems are impacting economies around the world, but they also greatly affect individual businesses that rely on the timely receipt of products, parts, and supplies. As a business owner or executive, you can feel powerless knowing items you need are stuck in a container thousands of miles away at sea.
While there’s no immediate cure to the supply chain woes, there are things that companies can do to temper the effects. One of the most effective tactics is to choose technology solutions like advanced analytics and machine learning to help:
• Predict demand
• Stay ahead of inventory needs
• Place orders and automate re-orders
• Track supplies in real time
Here’s what businesses need to know.
Predict demand with more accuracy
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can help predict supply needs to the point of total autonomous planning without the need for human decision-making. According to McKinsey research, only 20% of executives say they have implemented machine learning and AI to improve their supply chain planning, but most say they plan to do so. Supply chain analytics will help look at data to identify patterns, forecast needs, and even determine cause-and-effect relationships in your chain.
A supply chain digital twin—or virtual model of your actual supply chain—can also help you not only resolve snags in your chain but make predictions.
Stay ahead of inventory and fulfillment needs
Digital and robotic technologies can help you manage warehousing, picking, and fulfillment while reducing errors and improving safety—both of which can impact delivery times. Edge ecosystem tools and smart intralogistics robots ensure localized accuracy. Labor shortages have exacerbated logistics and supply chain issues, and the warehouse and fulfillment center robots can take up some of the slack. Some experts say current uses for smart intralogistics robots have much more potential and many untapped use cases. Even wearable technology can help warehouse workers pick and perform their jobs more quickly.
Gartner, Inc. predicts that companies will be making one quarter of supply chain decisions at the intelligent edge by the end of 2025 and three-fourth of large enterprises will be using smart intralogistics robots as part of their warehouse operations by 2026.
Place orders and automate re-orders
Technologies like IoT and AI will allow you to set up automatic ordering at certain times of the month or when inventory hits a certain level. Smart bins and items tagged with tracking devices can also trigger automatic reorders. Order management software and data analytics can help you not only predict trends and track inventory levels but take a lot of the human effort and error out of the equation.
Track supplies in real time
IoT devices like beacons and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can show you and your supply chain partners where shipments are. They also help keep customers informed about when they’ll receive products. They can also keep you informed about shipment temperature and other environmental data to ensure products aren’t ruined in transit. Blockchain is another technology that could improve traceability, management, and transparency in the supply chain.
Take advantage of new and emerging tools
We’ve touched on some of the best technologies—like AI, IoT, smart robots, advanced analytics, and machine learning—for retailers and ecommerce. Aside from helping to cut lead times, the right technology can help you find other opportunities like more suitable suppliers or supply chain partners.
There are also other interesting solutions available for other parts of the supply chain, including apps for truck drivers and automated cargo scans. Some companies are even investigating solutions like autonomous trucking while others are trying to simplify logistics in creative ways like using 3D printers to create parts and products.
Investing in the right technologies for your business can minimize supply chain disruptions and help you save resources and retain customers.
To learn more about how you can improve your processes through using data with AI and machine learning, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call.
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