What are the current supply chain technology trends? As we enter the last half of 2019 (and cast our eyes on 2020), there are a number of developments that need to be watched. Many of these trends are evolutions of trends we saw developing through 2018, and as they build momentum, they become notably disruptive. Supply chain technology is advancing at a fast pace, and supply chain companies need to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry.
Blockchain technology is growing in many industries, with companies jumping to integrate blockchain into nearly every transactional process. Why? Blockchain provides a decentralized, collaborative, and transparent system, through which transactions can be easily and accurately verified.
When it comes to supply chain management, the applications of blockchain are clear. With unique identifiers, shipments and cargo can be tracked on a transactional level. The entire history of a shipment or cargo can be tracked, with clear hand-off points and accountability. All of this will be verified and re-verified through the entirety of a peer-to-peer network, ensuring that no mistakes or tampering can occur.
Transparency, accuracy, and speed are the major advantages to using blockchain technology in this way, and it becomes even more important as the global marketplace grows, and product sourcing becomes more important. A common example—envision a world in which blockchain is used to track the origins of chocolate or diamonds. Free-trade chocolates and conflict-free diamonds can be easily sourced and verified.
5G and IoT
5G and IoT will work together to create lightning-fast networks with seemingly limitless endpoints and nodes. 5G has vastly reduced latency and increased speeds, making it possible for a network to connect to larger arrays of the Internet of Things devices.
The most obvious application in the supply chain is for the tracking of inventory and shipments. IoT devices can be used to automate a significant amount of shipping and logistics, making it possible to track and find inventory on-the-fly, and even predict when these shipments will arrive.
Greater levels of IoT technology will reduce shrinkage and improve warehousing technology, ultimately leading to more significant automation. IoT devices will further be able to return larger volumes of data, which will then be used to analyze and predict issues related to shipping and logistics.
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic Process Automation is being steadily introduced into supply chain management as a method of automating simple, repetitive tasks. Through RBA, warehouses can improve upon the accuracy and consistency of their operations while cutting down on unnecessary overhead. With fewer delays, RBA can speed up shipping and supply chain, thereby making it easier to acquire goods quickly.
RBA doesn't mean replacing jobs with robots, and it doesn't involve physical robots at all: rather, it's a set of digital tools that are used to automate processes that would otherwise need to be completed manually. Any process that needs to be consistently replicated and doesn't require human judgment can be shifted to RBA.
Find the Right Technology with AFFLINK
Are you ready to take advantage of these new technology trends? Do you need to upgrade and update your supply chain? AFFLINK is your one-stop-shop for everything to do with supply chain management. From coverage of supply chain technology trends to sourcing state-of-the-art supply chain equipment, AFFLINK has you covered.
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.