With increased product complexity, globalization, and heightened customer demands, supply chain businesses are turning to advanced technologies to transform how supply chains are managed. Notorious for its extensive use of manual processes, the supply chain industry is using various technologies to remain on the cutting edge of a complex business world and stay competitive. One such technology the logistics industry has the most to gain from is – Automation.
Here’s how automation is helping the industry build a more robust, more proactive supply chain while reducing costs and errors.
What does automation in the supply chain entail?
Supply chains are mostly built on process-oriented tasks, which can be rife with errors because they encompass many different operations. With the help of automation, repetitive, time-consuming, error-prone, and menial tasks can be identified and automated to increase the productivity of the supply chain and reduce errors. Nearly every aspect of the supply chain can be automated. Some usual tasks include – production, inventory, and shipping.
How does automation enhance supply chain management?
Improves the Back-Office Efficiency
A lot of supply chain management functions occur behind the scenes. Some of the typical supply chain tasks that reside in back offices are – procuring documents such as receipts, and bills, delivery orders, etc., which need to be manually sorted to ensure the next stage can begin. Most of these processes are time-consuming. With the help of automation, the speed and efficiency of such tasks can be significantly increased.
By leveraging AI and multi-dimensional monitoring, fleet vehicles can be tracked in real-time to know what products are in transit and if there can be potential delays. With this knowledge, supply chain companies can optimize the transportation of materials, reducing cost and delivery time.
Easier Warehouse Management
Supply chain warehouses are always busy with products continually being added and removed. By automating their warehouses, supply chain companies can optimize their space to maximize value. With the help of automation, inventory is automatically registered as it changes, which enables the workers to keep track of the materials in stock. Another valuable feature of automation is forecasting, which allows supply chain companies to predict demand and prep inventory in advance to ensure enough supply to meet demand. Additionally, robots within the warehouse can operate autonomously and alleviate human workers of time-consuming and menial tasks.
Overall Big Benefits
Reduction in cost and errors
With the help of AI and analytics, the optimal path in planning can be figured out, which leads to cost reduction. For example, supply chain companies can determine labor and machine capacity, material and product needs, customer requirements, and more to optimize the costs.
Traditional supply chains lack the transparency to know how inventory is progressing. Automation combined with other technologies allows customers to see where their order is in its journey from the warehouse to their homes. This leads to increased transparency and customer satisfaction.
It also benefits employees as they can have access to real-time data, enabling them to have up-to-date status updates and act with certainty when executing tasks.
Several regulatory laws operate in the warehousing and logistics sector, including Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines. But compliance in this sector is highly complex and challenging to monitor. Automation eliminates the need for the workers to observe and note down recordings. The information can be automatically documented and stored to generate reports.
With an automation-enabled supply chain, organizations can better allocate supplies while saving resources, time, and precious lives. If you plan to get an automation solution for your business, an audit can help you determine where automation can be applied in your current supply chain operations to maximize benefits.