On the surface, the supply chain appears to be a simple process through which goods travel from the supplier to the end-user. However, a series of numerous logistics activities that facilitate navigation through the value chain make the process rather complex. Plus, the logistics process may repeat itself multiple times within a single chain, further adding to the complexity.
In recent years, the traditional supply chain has undergone rapid transformation owing to advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Let’s take a look at the most prominent innovations changing thesupply chain for business.
The digital ledger of blockchain is heavily used to record transactions in a way that make it impossible to hack or cheat the system. Though its use in the supply chain for small businessis still underway, some industrial sectors, such as the pharmaceutical industry is leveraging blockchain to reduce the risk caused by counterfeit medicines, frequently sold in developing nations. Similarly, the automotive industry is also using this technology to identify counterfeit auto parts and track them.
2. Geo-location technologies and sensors
Walking hand-in-hand with blockchain, tagging, sensors, and geo-location technologies enable real-time tracking of goods-in-transit to improve transparency and traceability. Even the US Department of Defence uses this technology (RFID-IV) to monitor and track the movement of nearly 24,000 high-value military goods worldwide. The technology gives real-time alerts in case of delays, tampering, etc., removing all blind spots in the supply chain and enabling the Department of Defence to take necessary measures.
3. AI and Analytics for better decision-making
The combined use of AI and Big Data has enabled better MSME supply chain management via warehouse automation, conversational AI for customer service, business process automation for account payables/receivables, and more. For instance – AI can use historical data to spot opportunities for improvement in inventory management. Then, with the help of Analytics, accurate demand is predicted based on which workflows and operations can be automated.
Additional Read: How to choose the best loan term for your business needs?
4. Last-mile delivery
As more and more consumers turn to online shopping to meet their needs, fast order delivery is no longer a “nice-to-have.” It has become a must-have, pushing companies to race against time. Thanks to crowdsourcing technologies, retailers and customers can directly connect with non-professional couriers who use their own means of transport to make deliveries. This has enabled faster delivery of orders (same-day delivery, for instance). Also, the freedom of on-demand or scheduled deliveries ensures that customers are at home when the delivery is made, eliminating the need for a second or third attempt.
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