Benefits of an intelligent supply chain
With globalization – even as it is slowing down – and the digital transformation, the supply chain is becoming increasingly complex, increasing the pressures for a more modern and efficient process.
Therefore, it is essential to have an intelligent supply chain that exploits the digital and technological resources available today. Understand this scenario better with the following article.
Supply chain challenges in digital transformation
The spread of Industry 4.0 technologies has revolutionized supply chains that are already using the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence and real-time analysis to optimize, accelerate and predict their operations.
In this scenario, many companies are already rethinking their logistics, taking advantage of digital technologies – and new rules, such as Incoterms 2020 – to keep pace with change and improve their operational capabilities.
Moving from a traditional supply chain to implementing a digital, intelligent format requires a major transformation.
To prepare for this moment, get to know the technological elements that are at your disposal.
Elements of a smart supply chain
Much has been said about using Bots, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to make the supply chain more efficient – about this subject, we wrote an article that shows 4 technologies that are revolutionizing global trade.
All of them are very important indeed. But there are other resources available, like the ones we highlight below.
1. RFID – Radio Frequency Identification
The RFID system consists of an antenna, a transceiver (which reads the signal and transfers the information to a reader device) and an RF (radio frequency) tag, which contains the information to be transmitted – these tags may be present on products, parts, equipment, etc.
It works like this: the antenna emits a signal from the integrated circuit and transmits the information to the reader. It in turn converts the RFID radio waves into digital information, which can be read by a computer, storing this data.
Thus, it ensures professionals can control everything that enters and leaves the factory, which in turn guarantees the updated control of the stock – in real time – and makes tracking the materials a lot easier.
2. Smart sensors
As they are an excellent support for an intelligent supply chain, the sensors make it possible to monitor machines in real time, sending alerts to a control center if any part is defective and needs to be replaced – or even when the production period for any part is coming to an end.
This way, it allows the realization of predictive maintenance, indicating the right time for the acquisition of parts and products. In addition to cost reduction, it increases production efficiency, since it reduces the risks of having to stop the machines for maintenance.
It may sound complex, but tests are already being done using drones for delivery. Besides delivering orders to the buyer’s house, another possibility is the distribution from a truck which, upon arrival at a certain point of its route, releases several drones to deliver orders to places close to the stop.
Using a drone equipped with a camera to scan the items from a stock is also a possible way to improve controls and processes.
Repetitive tasks such as moving products from one area to another from a warehouse can be done with the help of robots, increasing efficiency and freeing up employees for more strategic work.
Amazon Robotics invested in this feature, reducing errors and costs (before, it was common for products and materials to be stored in the wrong place, leading to unnecessary purchase of items already in stock) in addition to improving efficiency – learn about the Kiva system that allowed the use of robotics in the company’s warehouses.
5. Process Integration
An intelligent supply chain needs to integrate steps and teams, creating a real-time communication that can be used by everyone in the production process.
This integration will promote improved communication, anticipation of problems, greater agility in detecting and solving failures. It also favors access to essential data to define strategies and control demands more effectively.
The market offers several options that need to be evaluated according to the needs and particularities of each organization. With Business Intelligence, information from systems in all areas and technologies – such as the Internet of Things – goes to the same dashboard, generating graphs and tables and allowing linked teams to follow the entire process together in real time – in the case of the supply chain, maintenance, purchasing and logistics would share the information in the same dashboard.
Implementing a smart supply chain in your company
The acquisition of new technologies requires good planning, avoiding risks such as acquiring items that do not offer a positive cost-benefit ratio or that are not really necessary for the reality of the business.
And although your journey towards a digital supply chain may require the best and most advanced technologies, remember that much of the success of this operation is connected to people. Companies need to take their employees with them at each stage, preparing their workforce for this new supply chain, through training, for example.
With these precautions, it’ll be possible to see many benefits in the supply chain, some of them being:
- Greater efficiency: better use of productive process time, minimized errors.
- Transparency: an intelligent supply chain allows information to be shared with all stakeholders in real time;
- Properly distributed resources: adequate quantity of parts, avoiding inactive stock or material shortages.
An intelligent supply chain can, for example, integrate data from sensors connected in warehouses and warehouses with information that shows the use of parts, allowing a purchase planning that leads to cost reduction and higher quality throughout the purchasing process.