How Technology Helps Us Combat Supply Chain Disruptions

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Supply chain disruptions can cause adverse effects to any business; they may result in loss of revenue and customers. These disruptions are inevitable with many causes, such as natural disasters, pandemics, product issues, and logistic failures. Therefore, managers must develop new strategies that aim to reduce such disruptions. 

A study by the Institute of Supply Management indicated that at least 75% of businesses in the U.S. experienced supply chain disruptions due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The study also revealed that 57% of companies experienced longer lead times. In addition, 44% of the companies don’t have plans to address the disruptions. 

Smart inventory management utilizes data and software to control costs. This technique fulfills the increasing demand with less inventory, using inventory control procedures that enhance efficiency through automated technology synchronization.

While factors causing supply chain disruptions may be beyond a company’s control, managers are not totally powerless. The following smart inventory management techniques will assist managers in minimizing supply chain disruptions

Leverage on Software 

Logistics companies are incorporating technology with their supply chain operations, taking a hint from asset management best practices, and staying competitive at the same time. Supply chain software has become more complex, allowing logistics companies to modify orders, automate processes, and communicate across various channels. As a result, these companies can stay ahead of mistakes such as supply chain disruptions.

A supply chain management software combines the capabilities of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. This software is transforming how companies analyze and mitigate supply chain disruption risk. The software saves managers a lot of time and allows them to make more appropriate and proactive decisions by relying on accurate real-time data.

Though software assists logistics businesses in identifying, assessing, and mitigating supply chain disruptions, there is concern about overreliance on technology. A software issue can bring the entire business to a halt. A study by Statista found out that 57 percent of supply chain operations rely on technology. 

Use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have enabled the automation of supply chain procedures and processes. Such automation improves planning, implementation, forecasting, and logistics to emulate human knowledge and performance.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have enabled supply chains to have a control tower, which is vital in providing end-to-end visibility. A control tower allows companies to respond to disruptions using predictive and autonomous capabilities. Such high visibility enables the business to employ the right resources, people, and equipment proactively.

Predictive analysis is also an essential strategy in minimizing disruptions. With technological advancement, businesses can accurately model consumption and plan accordingly for production and transportation. AI and machine learning enable businesses to analyze various data sets. For example, businesses can analyze customer data, learn customer behavior, and predict future demand.

By analyzing customer data, businesses can effectively shift their focus to products that really make a difference for customers. Data is essential in the success of supply chain operations.

Integrate an IoT System 

Integration of IoT with production and supply chain provides powerful levels of real-time visibility. Such visibility allows managers to identify where products are in their outbound supply chain. Therefore, managers can effectively align inventory with real-time demand and minimize supply chain disruptions. 

IoT plays a crucial role in collecting and analyzing data in supply chain operations. This technology can authenticate the location of items at any time. IoT can also track the speed of movement of items, making it easier to predict the movement of goods through the supply chain.

Goods such as chemicals and foodstuff need to be stored under special conditions. IoT devices can monitor storage conditions such as humidity, temperature, light, and other environmental factors. This technology will trigger an alarm when such conditions are breached. 

However, managers must understand that IoT relies on network connectivity to function. Skilled personnel should also install and handle these devices. In addition, the IoT system should undergo regular preventive maintenance.   

Tap into E-Commerce Services 

Supply chain managers should look outside traditional sourcing methods when dealing with disruptions. E-commerce marketplaces create transparency by providing a one-stop-shop for all purchases. E-commerce is the future of the supply chain because it offers efficiency and a variety of tools that make it easy to request quotes and bills for goods.

E-commerce makes it easy to order anything from anywhere, anytime. As a result, e-commerce has amplified trends and made volatility common in the marketplace. However, advanced technology – such as mobile apps – provides data that enables managers to view the retail stock and complete orders to manufacturers.

Data sharing creates transparency and allows managers to visualize the entire supply and demand. Managers can see how much inventory they have on shelves and in storerooms. They can also look at real-time reports to predict customer trends and take proactive actions. 

Using 3D Printing 

The 3D printing technology is a game-changer in supply chain operations. This technology enables the business to localize their production, providing faster turnaround and reducing transport costs. In addition, 3D printing allows greater satisfaction, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

Localization offers supply chain companies the benefits of space management by maintaining lower inventory levels. In addition, 3D printing reduces supply complexities and increases the speed of deliveries. Companies can use this technology to manufacture and deliver items in days locally. This is a better alternative to stocking the products in large warehouses, waiting to be shipped.

Supply chain managers can minimize disruptions by using 3D printing to reduce the tiers in their supply chain. Reducing the levels will result in enhanced visibility of the entire supply chain, reduced costs, and increased supply speed.

Conclusion

The impact of smart inventory management in minimizing supply chain disruptions cannot be understated. Supply chain operations can be tricky, and a simple disruption can be disastrous. However, companies can use smart inventory management techniques to minimize supply chain disruptions.

Keep in mind that these smart inventory management techniques are not fit for all operations. Managers should assess their needs and determine the best strategy.  

 

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.