The global supply chain sector has come under tremendous stress since 2020 due to the pandemic reaction, and lately, the conflict in Ukraine and the European crises have only made matters worse. In the meantime, consumer demand keeps rising. Despite these difficulties, the entire sector is transforming thanks to technological advancements.
In other words, new ideas and solutions address many problems that lead to supply chain difficulties. These developments strengthen the global network and provide extra advantages, such as faster product circulation, lower prices, and reduced waste and emissions.
This post offers five of the leading and innovative solutions in the supply chain world.
1. Process Automation With AI
Using AI and automated processes is helping businesses become more environmentally responsible. Another perk these companies enjoy is increased profits. For instance, automation can reduce waste by lowering human mistakes, which results in lost resources and time. Since robots, cells, and conveyor systems can do the same thing repeatedly, the production process becomes more efficient and accurate.
Businesses save money and improve their final goods thanks to fewer accidents, increasing output, and decreasing turnaround times. However, AI has many other applications, from monitoring quality to evaluating performance.
AI can quickly scan products moving through the production line, using sensors to identify and remove defective components. Businesses may save money on everything from supplies to electricity by employing software to track expenditures. In addition, AI can also leverage digital models, simulations, and data processing to improve the supply chain.
2. Optimized Shipping Routes
The complexity of a supply chain can be a hindrance when trying to achieve optimal performance, especially once finished goods need shipping. Fortunately, companies may maximize their fuel efficiency by using technology to determine the most cost-effective means of shipping, delivery routes, and energy consumption.
This was also one of the original examples of how technology enhanced the ecological friendliness of logistic processes. In this instance, telematics has a lot of potential. For years, UPS has tracked fuel usage with customized telematics software.
These technological resources provide businesses with the most effective delivery routes and help them figure out how to move more items with fewer trucks. These technologies allow vehicles to operate more efficiently, use less fuel, and emit less pollution.
3. Additive Manufacturing
Although not every supply chain can accommodate 3D printing, the advantages for companies that can are staggering. Additive manufacturing is another name for this technology, which is more adaptable than most people understand. In 3D printing, you only use what you need, helping cut down waste.
A 3D printer further simplifies the manufacturing process, making even better use of time and supplies. Modern machines can print various materials, including plastic, metal, and concrete, and usually in a remarkably short time.
Sustainability in the supply chain can also benefit from reducing wasteful practices. Waste and disposal methods are two of the biggest causes of global greenhouse gas pollution. Therefore, by using additive manufacturing, factories may reduce trash generated throughout the production process.
4. Self-driving Automobiles
Self-driving cars could significantly increase supply chain performance, especially considering the current labor crisis. Autonomous automobiles and vehicles are inching closer to widespread use.
In late 2021, for instance, TuSimple, a startup developing autonomous semi-trucks, tested its driverless tractor-trailer for the first time over an 80-mile public roadway. The truck finished its trip without any help from a human.
To give you an idea of the need for this type of vehicle, consider that the United States is short about 80,000 truck drivers. Hence, driverless trucks increase productivity by filling in the gaps in domestic supply chains. They are also predicted to lower pollution because the vehicle's artificial intelligence can accurately optimize fuel consumption.
According to studies, human error accounts for approximately 90% of motor accidents. Even a slight decrease in this number would significantly impact the number of lives saved and the overall safety of roads.
In a nutshell, autonomous trucks have the potential to herald a more streamlined, efficient, and environmentally friendly supply system.
5. Robotic warehouse
Warehouses are vital components of the supply chain industry. They can slow things down or speed them up in very helpful ways. By increasing warehouse operating efficiency, robotics enables facilities worldwide to maintain the supply chain running at maximum speed.
There is a wide variety of warehouse robots, including autonomous mobile robots (AMR) and rack-climbing pick-and-place robots (cobots).
Surprisingly, collaborative robots, or cobots, have become popular in the supply chain in the past few years. Instead of trying to replace human workers, they supplement human skills to increase efficiency and productivity. Locating and lifting goods are only two of the many warehouse jobs that can be automated with the help of cobots.
They also help with inventory management, assisting workers, moving bulky items, packing boxes, and performing various other operational functions.
These solutions enhance supply networks' adaptability, resource management, and production processes. Remember that the first step to making your system work well is to accept technological change and use all available emerging techniques. These innovations make the job easier, safer, and more convenient for employees.
In the long run, this will benefit everyone involved in the supply chain, from factory workers to customers, investors, and the planet as a whole.