The discipline of supply chain management is as old as the industrial revolution; maybe even older. Such deeply entrenched and highly researched fields tend to have a more difficult time adapting to new realities. Supply chain and technology are like two peas in a pod.
Supply Chain and technology are inexorably linked, as a result of the fast pace of advancements. Unfortunately, like many professions, what is taught in schools is often out of date with the real world. Especially since technology is moving so fast.
The necessity of the relationship between supply chain and technology should be self evident. At every step of the supply chain, there are new technological tools that are needed to keep pace with the changing consumer environment.
One big stressor on traditional supply chain models is the increasing popularity of eCommerce. There are other changes that have forced businesses to rely more on technology for their supply chains as well.
As mentioned earlier, there are technological requirements for nearly every stage of the supply chain – all the way through the last mile.
Supply Chain and Technology
- Inventory Planning
With the advent of eCommerce, inventory planning has become far more complicated than any other time. Additionally, omnichannel has created an environment where new and unique ways of inventory planning can be accomplished.
While technology is a crucial part of of inventory planning, it’s not the only part. Having an optimized inventory strategy requires human intervention, including regular audits of inefficiencies that must be addressed.
- Fleet Management
With ever growing fleets, businesses like third party logistics companies need to make sure they know where all trucks are at all times. That is why technology for fleet management is so critical.
Being able to track drivers via GPS, monitor them in real-time, gain insights into their behavior and communicate with them are all necessary requirements for a modern supply chain.
Nowadays, dispatching tools are relatively ubiquitous, however not all dispatching tools are the same. Unfortunately, many companies are tied into legacy systems that are outdated and difficult to disconnect from.
The technology for dispatching in the current environment requires the ability to not only manually dispatch orders, but have them done automatically (if needed) based on location, route optimization and other factors.
Additionally, for parcel delivery and other similar companies,
- Last Mile Tracking
In order to achieve real supply chain visibility, it’s necessary to make sure that the last mile is included – too many companies have become “last mile blind.”
Last Mile Tracking means that as items are being loaded on to trucks, they are scanned and that information is sent back to a centralized management platform. As a result, those items can be tracked all the way to their final destination – in real-time.
- Customer Experience
Creating a superior experience for the end-customer – whoever it is that is receiving the goods or services being delivered – is a relatively knew focus for businesses. In the past, there wasn’t much of an expectation except maybe getting some sort of vague window of time when it would arrive.
Nowadays, with the technological advancements that have been made, expectations on the consumer end have increased. That is why more and more 3PLs and other businesses that deliver are starting to see the merit in providing full visibility to the end-customer, meaning they don’t just get a window of time, but rather can see a real-time map and track their driver as they make their way to their destination.
As time goes on, more and more companies will realize how important this is.