Technology is continuously growing and improving — and the supply chain industry can benefit from the many improvements that come along with it. From advancements in current machines to brand-new inventions, these innovations all play a part in supply chain optimization and management. Here are a handful of the latest supply technologies to watch for during the upcoming year:
Tesla’s Electric Semi-Truck
Not long ago, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would begin working on electric semi-trucks. These trucks can run from 300 to 500 miles and are equipped with Tesla’s Autopilot driving aid. Tesla is also pricing their semis starting at $150,000 (for the 300-mile-range model), which is a competitive industry rate compared to most diesel trucks. Because Tesla’s semis are so competitively priced and are powered by electricity, they can save tens of thousands of dollars in operating costs and $200,000 in lifetime fuel savings. These factors not only make them more affordable in the long run, but also position Tesla semis as a strong competitor against the typical diesel-fueled trucks that are regularly used.
Transport companies and retailers have already put their orders in for these trucks, which could change how the supply chains operate. By saving companies time and money in the long run, Tesla’s electric semi could be a regular part of the supply chain optimization process.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can improve decision making, bring business models up to date, and improve customer experience. Controlling machines to operate for specific tasks is what will help businesses the most. Having a machine that can operate autonomously or semi-autonomously can enable companies to complete certain tasks without supervision. Eventually, intelligent items will transition from solo activities to collaborative ones, both with and without human assistance.
AI will also be incorporated into intelligent apps to help automate data preparation and share and discover new insights. Instead of replacing people, AI in intelligent apps can instead augment human activity, such as with virtual assistants. For the future, AI will be able to streamline processes and boost supply chain optimization to improve businesses from beginning to end.
Blockchain technology allows digital information to be safely transferred between different parties without being copied. It does not involve other applications or participants because it is not stored in a database; therefore, it eliminates any friction between businesses exchanging information. With blockchain, businesses can make commercial transactions with other parties securely, especially if they are not trusted. Blockchain can help regulate transactions within the supply chain process as long as it is used thoughtfully and carefully when dealing with each entity.
Smart Glasses and Increased Drone Usage
Because mobility and automation lead the competition, companies must stay ahead of the curve. Smart glasses can help by assisting with route direction hands-free, avoiding errors and personalizing delivery with face-recognition technology. Not only can smart glasses improve the supply chain delivery, but drones can also enhance the delivery process by decreasing delivery time in crowded locations and cities. This technology duo not only improves supply chain optimization, but it’s also more sustainable. With the rise of incorporating sustainability, smart glasses and drones can help by reducing carbon footprints thanks to decreased delivery times.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.