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Top 5 Technology Advancements Transforming Supply Chain And Logistics Industry

  • Ravi Pal
  • Jul 18, 2023
  • IoT System
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A look at the global supply chain management market will tell you that supply chain is witnessing an unprecedented transformation led by technological advancements over the last decade. The Industry 4.0 technologies that include Internet of Things (IoT), especially Industrial IoT (IIoT), Cyber Physical Systems, AI and ML, Big Data, Simulation, Augmented Reality (AR), Additive Manufacturing, Cloud Computing, Autonomous Robots, Cybersecurity etc. have had an important bearing on how the industry has progressed over the last decade. With rise of internet 4G, 5G and LPWANs, we have witnessed systematic material integration (Logistics) and information integration leading to better operational performance owing to better material and information flows between supply chain partners.

The 2-3 year long coronavirus pandemic affected this industry tremendously, even more so than others but businesses that depended heavily on supply chain and logistics networks ramped up their efforts towards digital infrastructure transformation along with the core supply chain and logistics businesses.

A report by Statista highlights the fact that global supply chain management market is going to witness tremendous growth from 15.85B USD in 2020 to almost 31B USD in 2026. Fueled by recent technological advancements, the supply chain and logistics industry is witnessing an unprecedented growth.

Let’s see TOP 5 such technology advancements transforming the supply chain and logistics industry.

  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cloud Computing
  • AI and ML and advanced analytics
  • Blockchain
  • Additive Manufacturing

Internet of Things (IoT)

Information integration, that is sharing of key information along the supply chain networks, is now possible with the advancements in IoT and cloud computing. Real-time collection of information, be it material handling, transportation, manufacturing or order delivery to the end user, is now possible with connected and sensored “Things”.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to transform supply chain and logistics by enabling real-time tracking and monitoring of assets, materials, and products as they move through the supply chain. IoT sensors and devices can collect and transmit data on the location, condition, and status of goods, as well as weather conditions, environmental status and traffic patterns, providing greater visibility and control over the supply chain that was simply not possible few years ago.

With over 15B connected devices and sensors, Internet of things has become the internet of everything and with the double digit annual growth in global IoT market (CAGR of 26.1% between 2023 and 2026), there are ample opportunities for information integration in supply chain and logistics industry.

Cloud Computing

A decade ago, IBM’s z196 was the fastest commercial processor available in the market. At present, an iPhone 11 provides 4 times more computing power. The ERP and CRM integration in business soared during 2000s and data collection became a thing but it wasn’t until this decade that this data truly made sense with the massive computing power at hand, thanks to cloud computing.

Cloud computing provides scalable and flexible computing resources that can help logistics companies manage large amounts of data and applications. It leverages cloud-based tools and platforms to facilitate collaboration between different stakeholders in the supply chain, allowing for faster and more efficient decision making.

AI, ML and Predictive Analytics

Apart from cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Predictive Analytics are also the latest technologies empowering supply chain and logistics. With the rise of AI and Machine learning, we are rapidly moving towards a greater degree of automation, leading to low risks, and higher productivity. In fact, analytics has now moved away from excel (Microsoft) and Tableau (Salesforce) helping users to access, analyze and visualize data to Machine Learning analytics.

This advanced analytics allows logistics companies to use data from IoT sensors and other sources to gain insights into the supply chain but coupled with machine learning, it also forecasts the risks and bottlenecks that are hard to figure out by ourselves. The data thus available can be used to optimize logistics operations, improve inventory management, and reduce costs.

Blockchain Technology

Another technology leading the transformation in supply chain and logistics is Blockchain technology which has the potential to provide greater security and transparency in the supply chain. Supply chain and logistics business need an error free audit trail that goes beyond the traditional methods of electronic mails and record keeping, preventing counterfeiting and frauds, leakage and enabling transparency. By creating a decentralized, immutable ledger of all transactions and events in the supply chain, Blockchain can help reduce errors, and improve traceability.

However, implementing Blockchain is not a one company thing where a company like Walmart can utilize this for a greater degree of visibility and transparency but it actually takes a village and needs an industry consortia initiative.

Additive Manufacturing

3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, is revolutionizing the way products are made. With increased focus on decentralizing manufacturing and production, supply chain business are setting up local production hubs. Moreover, the need for personalization in production is also a driving factor here.

By enabling the production of customized and on-demand products, 3D printing can reduce lead times, inventory costs, and waste in the supply chain and logistics businesses.

The technologies as mentioned above are enabling better supply chain and logistics output by providing greater visibility, efficiency, and security in the supply chain. In the face of continued disruptions, uncertainty, and changing consumer behavior, it is only logical to be more technology dependent and ramp up efforts for more automation and digitalization.

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