Future of Supply Chain: Automation

Future of Supply Chain: Automation

Technology has put businesses under immense pressure to consistently come up with new creative solutions to crack through the noise and give customers instant gratification. Of course, manufacturing companies are no exception. With the insane speed of today’s world, the traditional methods won’t cut it. In the past, these human errors and strategic mistakes were just small slips, but now they appear almost unforgivable. Logically, companies have found their solutions in one word: automation.

Posted on 15-Feb-2022

They hope to integrate automated solutions on different parts of their supply chain to increase their market share. In this article, we shall review some future supply chain trends and show you the undeniable impact of supply chain automation on every one of them.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

The number one job of any business is to establish a gainful long-term relationship with customers. To do that, they need to provide customers what they want. That’s where customer relationship management comes in and insightfully shows customers what category of products they like. Let’s review some of the tools of future supply chain trends, as follows:

  • Phygital
    With the undeniable role of technology in today’s world, traditional supply chain trends with boxes and cartons just don’t cut it anymore and won’t satisfy customer expectations. They want to recreate their digital world experience in your store. As the name suggests, Phygital is an attempt to utilize technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds. By integrating the two, a holistic, interactive experience is created for customers, leading to a personal relationship with them.

  • Sentimental Analysis
    When customers show their feelings or views about your products/services (verbally & non-verbally), they effectively provide you raw data (customer sentiment data). However, the volume of such data is so large that no business can manually handle and sort through it all. That’s why with this level of analytics, you can process layers of data quickly and also decode the meaning behind those words, and read between the lines.

  • Virtual Reality
    When it comes to creating an engaging experience for customers, no one can deny the attraction of virtual reality tools. Virtual reality is a great technology to let customers test your products and services in the digital realm. Essentially, by giving customers a brush and a canvas to paint their desired experience however they want, they will form an unforgettable memory of your brand.

  • Virtual Help Desk
    In a world where instant gratification is the norm, customers don’t have the patience to wait hours or even days for customer support to call their number.

    The solution is a concept called First Contact Resolution (FCR). With a ticket management system, businesses can immediately provide customers with a solution to their problem or let them know that they’re trying to resolve their issue and keep them constantly posted throughout the process. Additionally, they can use a chatbot as a support representative to provide customer service 24/7.

  • Inventory Management
    On-time fulfillment demonstrates to customers how much you value them and increases their loyalty. On the other hand, a delay in fulfillment or delivery sends the message to customers that you’re unreliable and it’s better to shop elsewhere next time. Manual inventory management (particularly at large companies) can be so overwhelming and complicated that it will inevitably lead to human error.

    In order to compensate, many businesses look for inventory management technologies, such as cloud-based software and inventory management equipment. Using a supply chain automation solution, they can put serial numbers and barcodes on their products to keep track of their stock levels in real-time.

  • Just-in-time (JIT) Inventory System
    A major concern for some companies in inventory management is they have loads of goods sitting there for too long, and now they have to spend money for storage that could’ve been spent elsewhere. What’s the solution? Just-in-time (JIT) inventory system.

    JIT systems continuously monitor the status of goods in the supply chain to help companies stock only what is needed to fulfill orders, eliminating the waste of time, money, and human resources on material handling and storage. Besides, some products (such as frozen foods) have a short storage life span, and keeping them too long will create a product loss cost for the business.

  • Automatic Counting/Weighing Solutions
    Products that don’t match desired parameters are among the biggest drains of a company’s resources. In addition, it doesn’t allow the company to utilize its maximum capacity and naturally increases the cycle time for an order. Another problem is the miscount in the number of order items, increasing the return rate and capital requirements to make up for the error.

    It’s unfortunate because businesses can avoid this problem by using an automatic counting/weighing system. With this system, they can continuously monitor the number of items and design products precisely according to parameters, improve the cycle time, capacity utilization, and reduce capital requirements.

MRP & Forecasting
Since businesses don’t have the tools to keep track of inventory in real-time or create a data collaboration platform, they can’t make calculated purchases. Instead, using a management resource planning (MRP) system, they can figure out what products are overselling/underselling to figure out what customers want, adjust their inventories, production capacity, and generate maximum return on their investment.

In addition, an MRP system can help businesses continuously monitor market conditions and be prepared for any sudden change in market demand. For example, with a shift in customer preferences, material and production requirements are adjusted down the production chain, enabling the company to be the first one on the market with brand new solutions for their customers.

Quality Control & Production
It’s challenging to find a company that doesn’t prioritize quality control (QC). A single error in a long production line means that the company’s time, money, and human capital is now down the drain, and on top of that, the whole process has to start over again, costing even more money, time, and effort.

An automatic QC solution helps companies monitor the production process in real-time and detect any errors to save time and money on reinspection. Since they can identify errors early on in the process, fixing them will be much more affordable and effortless. In addition, with an automatic QC solution, companies can rest assured that no faulty product can slip through, thereby only offering premium quality to customers.

Remote Service & Predictive Maintenance
A vital part of any company is ensuring the viability of its machinery/equipment toward seamless production. Manual maintenance is limited as far as frequency/accuracy. Hence, an automatic predictive maintenance solution can fill those time gaps and add another layer of security to the process.

Thanks to pattern-based algorithms, an automatic solution consistently analyzes performance trends. As soon as detecting an anomaly, it activates the remote troubleshooting protocol to resolve the issue. Moreover, by remembering the condition of the faulty equipment, the algorithm will put that equipment on top of the alert list for the next maintenance period.

Naturally, on-time detection of faulty equipment enables much more price-effective repair avoiding replacement or repetitive maintenance costs. Factory floor accidents account for an unbelievable fraction of injuries among manufacturing workers. Obviously, a significant reason for accidents is workers unknowingly operating malfunctioning equipment. An automatic predictive maintenance tool can save your workforce from unpleasant surprises.

All manufacturing companies need a meticulous system to keep track of goods from the production site to the end customer. They cannot afford to estimate order movement on hunches and guesses.

To avoid such costly mistakes, it is wiser to provide a connected solution of human assets and machines. A prime example of this is supply chain aggregation and consolidation. These capabilities can improve purchase planning, minimize inventory costs, and help with general product category predictions by providing accurate data.

With that sort of information, you now have complete control over in-site/off-site factors that affect the production process and deal with them as soon as possible. For example, you may discover deliveries are late 30% of the time by scanning the data. Naturally, a problem like that can severely undermine your image as a reputable business. Hence, you can endeavor to resolve it as soon as possible.

Bottom Line
Supply chain automation has created a true revolution in the true sense of the word. Of course, there is no single automation tool on the market that can cover all these areas, so it is necessary to look for a company that offers comprehensive solutions. That’s somewhat complicated because not many firms provide that kind of service.

One of those few is ITMS Solutions, a company where you can find answers to all of your issues. Whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, service, and other industries, ITMS Solutions provides you many intelligent enterprise solutions at highly competitive prices. In addition, our team of experts is ready to answer your calls or emails on any question you have regarding our products.