With the ever-increasing costs and customer-centric approach to business, many logistics and supply chain companies struggle to stay afloat. Nowadays, customers expect next-day delivery without breaking the bank. How do these firms meet such demands without jeopardizing the quality of their services? In this article, we’ll discuss the latest supply chain trends that allow companies to become more efficient and productive—for example, how artificial intelligence consulting can improve your warehouse management or how robotics will facilitate faster cargo loading. We’ll explore the seven most vital logistics innovations that drive the industry and aid organizations in improving customer experience while saving costs.
We can’t talk about logistics industry trends without first discussing the challenges. The most pressing issue that these industries are facing is the increase in costs. Induced by the post-pandemic recession and supply chain disruptions due to the war in Ukraine, rising costs are making it harder for businesses to survive. Furthermore, the emergence of ecommerce has redefined the way people shop. Nowadays, clients expect fast delivery, impeccable customer service, personalized suggestions, and more. These challenges force organizations to continuously upgrade to remain competitive in the market.
The rise of new technologies is both a benefit and a challenge for businesses. Although they can be utilized to optimize processes, retain customers, and cut expenses, many companies struggle with implementation. Integrating a new solution or launching software product development is a lengthy process that includes training staff, customizing features, etc. Moreover, the adoption of a new tech tool often triggers a cultural change within the company, which may disrupt the usual cycle.
Last but not least is the imminent threat of environmental changes. As the world is becoming more and more aware of the risks of climate change, logistics companies are under pressure to meet new regulations. Firms strive to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce harmful emissions, and move toward green energy. These measures will bring benefits in the long run but require investment and dedication upfront.
All in all, modern firms are in a constant search for new technologies to improve and automate their businesses, which can be highly stressful. From researching useful tools, tailoring their functionality, and conducting financial analysis to adopting software and educating employees, companies are expected to stay on top of their game at all times. While some companies purchase an off-the-shelf solution, others opt for mobile application development services. Regardless of what you choose, our guide will help you identify which technology will benefit your company the most.
Technological know-how emerges so frequently that it may appear impossible to keep up. In this section, we’ll dive into the latest advancements that can help you improve your business and gain a competitive advantage. The following supply chain management trends are capable of reducing costs, enhancing customer experience, eliminating human error, and driving productivity.
In the recent year, AI has become a buzzword that describes automation. But how can it actually help logistics and supply chain businesses? AI can facilitate the level of predictability that allows companies to build accurate forecasts and make informed decisions. The pandemic has highlighted how uncertainties and disruptions can harm corporations and cause considerable financial strains. With the help of AI-powered tools, logistics firms can avoid these stresses in the future. This is how AI-driven supply chain trends can improve your business operations:
Inventory management: This task is associated with organizing, monitoring, and analyzing vast amounts of data. Traditionally, companies had to devote entire days or even weeks to counting stock, writing off damaged items, and ordering new goods. The implementation of specialized systems can automate these routine activities and allow for more precise and timely restocking. The most sophisticated software can even predict demand based on historical data and help companies sufficiently restock before a seasonal high.
Warehouse management: Another innovation in logistics is streamlining warehouse management. Creating an efficient warehouse management system is not an easy undertaking. Especially as it grows and expands, the number of things that need to be accounted for increases exponentially. At the same time, managing a warehouse is not only about locating an item to deliver it to the consumer but also about employee safety. AI tools can evaluate the current state of the storage facility and identify potential risks for workers and businesses. This data will help you become a more safety-oriented business that cares about your employees’ well-being.
On-time delivery: AI-driven tools promote efficiency both inside the warehouse and on route. Automated systems allow companies to remove conventional bottlenecks as well as identify the optimal route to deliver faster. Such tools are designed to take into account real-time data and rely on GPS and route optimization features to make an accurate and timely delivery. Moreover, AI in logistics aids companies in utilizing space in shipping containers, allowing them to transport more goods.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that allows businesses to connect their physical devices and monitor real-time data. It consists of a system of devices and sensors that continuously capture data and send it to the cloud which is accessible to those in charge. Such sensors can measure humidity, temperature, heart rate, speed, and much more. In logistics, IoT software can aid in tracking shipments as well as monitoring warehouses to improve quality management. Let’s explore trends in supply chain technology brought by the adoption of IoT:
Vehicles and goods tracking: IoT sensors can be placed on shipping containers or products to transmit live locations at all times. If a certain item goes missing or is delivered to the wrong address, such systems will help you immediately locate the product. Furthermore, your office will always know when the goods have been delivered and accepted, which will increase processing efficiency.
Storage monitoring: Among the most critical trends in supply chain management is storage monitoring. Especially if you’re handling materials that require particular storage conditions, IoT devices can be a great help. Such tools can ensure that parameters like temperature, humidity, light, etc., stay within the appropriate range. Whenever a metric drops, your team will be alerted, allowing you to immediately salvage the issue. IoT-driven systems can also prevent wastage by monitoring the conditions and alerting staff in case an item expires.
Vehicle performance: The costs of repairing a piece of equipment or a vehicle are quite high. However, if you monitor the performance of a machine and take action before a serious issue develops, the expenses will be significantly lower. For example, you can place a sensor on your delivery trucks to track their engine status, tire pressure, and fuel consumption. These insights can be analyzed to distill patterns and potential maintenance issues.
Robots can be extremely useful when it comes to physically demanding and mundane work. Humans can have a hard time concentrating on routine tasks like sorting products, while machines can handle them faster and more efficiently. The introduction of robotics into the logistics and supply chain market can create significant benefits. Here are the most important supply chain management trends enabled by robotics:
Loading and unloading: Using robotics, specifically robotic arms to load and unload cargo, can prevent devastating injuries. No matter how much your company focuses on safety measures, accidents may still happen. However, with robotics, you can eliminate this threat once and for all. On top of that, such systems can increase efficiency and unload goods faster without damaging any items.
Sorting products: By programming parameters like size, type, weight, and others, you can utilize a robot to sort out the inventory and organize it more efficiently. They can also aid in product assembly and help you assemble end-products faster in the correct order. Not only do they eliminate human error, but also cut costs. Additionally, robots can be used in dangerous environments and be exposed to hazardous substances. This means that humans will no longer need to undertake dangerous tasks and suffer devastating consequences.
Aerial drones: Another innovation in logistics, drones have been utilized increasingly more in recent years, both in warehouses and beyond. They can improve warehouse operations by swiftly scanning products and locating items. Being compact, drones don’t take much space and don’t get in the way of humans while moving around. Another use for drones is accelerated delivery from trucks. This system is called multi-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) parallel delivery and allows couriers to deliver packages by air to multiple destinations right from the truck.
Big data applications allow companies to process large amounts of data in order to distill patterns and trends. Based on these findings, you can learn more about your customers, identify market changes, uncover business opportunities, and more. The goal is to apply these insights and make data-driven and informed decisions that boost your organization. Let’s take a look at the logistics trends that can be unlocked with big data analytics:
Product design and development: Big data analytics can assist in identifying user preferences and needs as they change during the product development cycle. These insights can help you alter the features and look of the product to make sure your customer base will be satisfied with the outcome.
Risk management: Risk management is among the most crucial trends in supply chain management. Big data tools give access to predictive analytics that help companies predict and manage risk. Using such systems, businesses can assess the likelihood of a certain risk as well as its severity and come up with countermeasures to avoid or at least minimize it. Collecting and storing massive volumes of historical data provides analysts with a limitless source of valuable information that can be used to improve your company.
Logistics management: One of the most challenging metrics for logistics organizations is on-time delivery. Both late and early delivery can increase costs and lead to poor customer experience. Big data analytics can improve traceability and reduce the chance of erroneous delivery time. Besides process optimization, big data analytics systems offer insight into employee performance. Using identified patterns, companies can make better decisions about staffing.
Another vital innovation in logistics is driven by blockchain technology. Distributed and decentralized public ledgers can help businesses reduce cyberattacks, eliminate clerical errors, prevent wastage, and more. Smart contracts can also be a helpful tool in business and enable safe and fast agreements without third parties. Here’s why blockchain is among the most significant supply chain trends:
Quality control: The blockchain can be applied in quality control to authenticate products and prevent defrauding. The technology provides safe records that cannot be fabricated or doctored, which guarantees transparency and a high level of security. The ability to see the movement of the product throughout the entire supply chain aids businesses in enhancing customer experience and reducing unnecessary expenses.
Smart contracts: Another item on the list of the most compelling supply chain technology trends is smart contracts. These are automatically executed whenever a certain predefined action takes place. The terms of an agreement are written in the lines of code and do not require any additional manual labor. This feature eliminates the need for a third party which saves both time and money. Moreover, all your contracts and sensitive data are safely stored on a blockchain, providing transparent records of each transaction between your company and suppliers, distributors, and customers. Finally, smart contracts can facilitate a paperless office space that is cost-friendly and environmentally conscious.
Compliance: Blockchain technology is also a helpful tool in establishing compliance with laws and regulations. The transparency and traceability of blockchain simplifies audits, which will help you stay on top of your game. Reducing the risks of non-compliance will give you peace of mind and help you avoid expensive penalties and fines.
A digital twin is a digital representation of a process or system that allows businesses to leverage the digital version and test its functionality and feasibility. The technology is based on multiple advancements, including IoT, cloud computing, augmented and virtual reality, and AI. Basically, you can create a digital twin of your product or process and run various tests and scenarios to evaluate its resilience and performance. Let’s see why digital twins have become an essential trend in supply chain management:
Risk-free process optimization: Whenever a company considers adopting new tool or software, they face the risks of uncertainty. A digital twin can circumvent this by offering a way of testing a hypothesis without making any decisions in the real world. Say you’re contemplating implementing a robot in your warehouse. The initial costs can be quite high, but this technology may help you reduce expenses in the long run. Instead of jumping into the unknown, you can create a digital twin and run this scenario. This step will allow you to analyze threats and opportunities and make changes to minimize drawbacks.
Predictive maintenance: Using IoT, your digital twin can leverage data from the sensors to build various scenarios and test possible faults. The system can apply previous simulations to foresee what can go wrong with a certain machine or piece of equipment. Based on these insights, your company can take proactive measures and prevent severe damage from occurring.
The driver of circular economy: Circular economy is among the central trends in supply chain management. In a circular economy, businesses strive to reuse products and materials for as long as they can in order to reduce waste and save money. Specialists claim this technology can aid in identifying the complicated trade-off between environmental impacts and efficiency. The system can offer insights into effective resource allocation and empower a circular economy.
Supply Chain as a Service (CSaaS) is a system that divides the entire supply chain into smaller processes that can be outsourced to a third party. There are plenty of successful outsourcing examples of organizations that saved money and increased their product and service quality. Service providers offer tools and technology to minimize costs, increase efficiency, and streamline processes. Smaller companies and startups can especially benefit greatly from this type of business model by getting instant access to supply chain tech solutions, expert-level acumen, and infrastructures with minimal spending. Let’s discuss what makes SCaaS one of the most pertinent logistics industry trends:
Manufacturing management: From raw material procurement and transportation capabilities to operation management, startups will face a wealth of obstacles before they pin down their processes. SCaaS allows them to leverage relevant software, actionable data, and established business models to avoid common mistakes. This system can also help small and medium-sized organizations grow without investing too much funds into expansion.
Warehouse management: SCaaS providers also offer inventory management services and help businesses enhance their efficiency. Managing a warehouse is a complex and multifaceted process that involves taking into account numerous factors. Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of an experienced business can aid you in building an efficient management system from day one.
On-time delivery: Finally, the ability to deliver on time is one of the most essential supply chain technology trends. Smaller firms often struggle to identify the most accurate delivery times. Having access to the experience and historical data of a SCaaS organization, you can leverage their expertise and guarantee timely deliveries to your clients.
We have listed seven of the latest logistics trends that can enhance your business. However, how can you implement these technologies? Making even a small change in your company’s processes can be overwhelming and disruptive to your daily operations. Here’s a concise guide to adopting new technology to your advantage:
Start small: There’s no need to implement all of the above systems at once. Identify your imminent needs and choose one or two tools that can help you cover them the most.
Include your employees in the process: Your employees should be aware of why you’re choosing this particular technology and what you are trying to achieve. They can have valuable opinions about the changes that you might find helpful. Furthermore, employees may be more resilient to change in case they’re not in the loop about the reasons behind them.
Provide training to your staff: Educate your employees about the new technology and its benefits and features. Moreover, teach them how to leverage the system to do their jobs better and more efficiently.
Define success metrics: You can’t talk about the success of the implementation without using concrete and tangible metrics to calculate it. This will help you identify whether the new technology is capable of solving your issues.
Logistics companies will not survive without taking advantage of the latest technologies. It may be a scary and time-consuming undertaking, but it’s a necessary step toward automation and optimization. If you feel the need for logistics innovations and would like to outsource app development, our team of experts at NIX is ready to help. Reach out to us to discuss your needs and we’ll help you identify the best technology to solve your issues. Our specialists are determined to deliver the best services to our clients while taking into account their constraints and concerns. Check out our logistics and supply chain success stories to learn more about our processes and methods.
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