How Digital Tracking and IoT Devices Are Revolutionizing Supply Chain Logistics
Nov 8, 2023
It is undeniable that supply chains have become far more complex and interconnected than ever. As a result, it only makes sense to improve the visibility of supply chain logistics to ensure companies are able to track and monitor the movement of goods at every point, from suppliers to manufacturers to distributors.
This highlights the importance of having supply chain visibility technology in place to inspire more agility and resilience. Companies in nearly all industries have taken notice that digital tracking and Internet of Things in the supply chain are completely transforming supply chain logistics, providing "near-real-time" insights into every aspect of the process.
Unfortunately, there can still be hesitation from logistics managers when it comes to adopting this type of technology. Old habits (and processes) die hard, and managers are fearful of what adopting these innovations might bring. However, forward-thinking companies must recognize that implementing supply chain visibility tools can help to provide invaluable data and information that will truly benefit the entire spectrum of supply chain operations. These advancements aren't a threat to a supply chain manager's job; they're tools that will make the job easier to perform at a high level.
Challenges Supply Chain Managers Currently Face
When it comes to visibility in supply chain logistics, access to real-time data tends to be one of the biggest obstacles that managers encounter. Without clear visibility into a product's current status, it's not possible to keep track of what is happening, and a myriad of questions can arise. When do I need to send the next shipment? Is the product I need available in the warehouse, or am I waiting for it to be restocked? Are there traffic delays that will cause my supplies to get in late? Which shipments do I need to bring in first?
This uncertainty can result in delays and confusion, both of which can be quite costly. It is vital for managers to know what they are dealing with so that they have the equipment and products needed for both incoming and outgoing orders. Gaining access to real-time data is vital to improving supply chain efficiency.
Another major issue that supply chain managers endure is not knowing whether they have enough team members on board to handle the orders that are being processed. Many managers lack the ability to understand their forecasts and the demands that come along with them, so they are unable to effectively implement the tools and/or labor force needed to handle the shipments. There may be instances where they are short-staffed or have too many workers on board. Each of these scenarios can be costly and can negatively impact how products are processed and the overall bottom line of the company.
To overcome these challenges, managers must be able to take advantage of innovative supply chain visibility technology to ensure operations are as effective and efficient as possible.
Increased Visibility Can Help Reduce Delays
When handling multiple orders of numerous products, it is instrumental to know exactly where the products are, where they are coming from, and when to prepare for each incoming and outgoing order—especially if products are transported cold and need to avoid spoilage, like milk or cheese. Having real-time digital tracking technology can provide unmatched insight to improve the efficiency of the entire logistics process.
When it comes to taking full advantage of IoT in the supply chain, there are several essential steps to prepare for and implement your supply chain visibility technology. These include:
1. Define your objective(s): First, it is essential that you understand what it is you want to achieve by improving supply chain visibility and implementing digital tracking technology. If you don't know where you intend to go, you won't be able to map out the best way to get there.
2. Identify your data: With the objectives in mind, identify what data will be needed to visualize the status of your objectives. It does not matter if the data exists. The purpose is to identify what is desired to visualize, track, and obtain the desired objective.
3. Analyze your data: After determining the objectives and desired data, focus on the data available in your system. Say you run a warehouse where goods are packaged, loaded on trucks, and shipped out. Data analysis allows you to keep track of how much product each individual is moving so that you can determine the most efficient combination of workers to ensure each job is handled accurately and consistently. You can pinpoint the best matches for every role on the floor and even gauge when breaks are needed to maintain productivity and morale.
4. Integrate third-party technology: Another key way to improve your logistics is by working with a third party to help coordinate and manage the supply chain visibility tools that you need. Midwestern grocery store chain Schnucks is a glowing example of this type of collaboration at work, as the company uses aisle-roaming robots supplied by Simbe Robotics to check price accuracy and monitor inventory levels. With so many software options and engineering firms to choose from, it can be helpful to work with an outside software and systems integration expert such as CTG to ensure you have all of the right technology in place for your unique needs and processes.
5. Prioritize continuous improvements: After implementing supply chain visibility technology, it is important to continue learning and improving to keep your organization on the right track. You must routinely evaluate the software upgrades for integrating internal processes, yard management, and third-party logistics. Continuously improving the technology will allow you to specifically address pain points that arise and create solutions that work.
By coordinating physical networks, software solutions, scalability options, and clear communication between all parties involved, CTG can help you better manage your resources while staying in compliance with ever-evolving regulations. This will give you a competitive edge in the marketplace by cutting down shipping times and helping you make more informed decisions.
There is no single solution for everyone, so customization is vital. This is where CTG shines—developing tailor-made warehouse management systems that can pull all the necessary parts together and customize a solution for you. Let us help you optimize your business today.
Adnan Chaaban has over 30 years of dedicated experience in system engineering, manufacturing, and warehouse management, during which time he has consistently showcased his ability to optimize supply chain warehouse operations, elevate service levels, stimulate growth, and reduce operational costs. His expertise has been pivotal in redefining order fulfillment processes through the strategic application of technology, process enhancements, and effective planning. Adnan specializes in integrating innovative solutions, leading cross-functional teams, and consistently delivering measurable results that surpass expectations, spanning various industries. His goal is to seamlessly unite people, processes, and technology, empowering warehouse operations to deliver exceptional value and attain new levels of efficiency and excellence.