Digital Disruptions for Distribution and Supply Chain Industries
Workflow automation is not a new buzz for the global imprinted supply chain industry. With the advent of digital technology, there is even more muscle to flex for distribution companies. In fact, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst and an accelerator in the Digital Transformation (DT) for empowering the industry.
The digital fortification of the systems has the capability to overcome the challenges that come with the impeding disruption that is already here. Due to globalization, recent “new” ways of working have already become “obsolete”. Expanding your sourcing network, spanning geographies, having alternate partners, being adaptive to new competition that did not even exist till yesterday- these are only a few of the facets that a supply chain business faces today.
Change is the only constant
Digitization has the reach to enable companies, both big and small, to have agility to adopt and scale rapidly. New paths need to be written and then change course mid-way, even before familiarity settles in. This can only happen when stakeholders have the required technology to support the change.
There is an urgent need to advocate and adopt transparency along the entire supply chain. This becomes increasingly difficult due to the criss-cross network of all parties involved in the chain. Multiple stakeholders need to integrate seamlessly, and digital transformation is all about promoting this transparency and inter-networking. Collecting data, metrics, identifying both risks and opportunities, and proactively managing them are possible today, at the fingertip.
The “anytime, anywhere” tracking of the movement of a commodity along the entire supply chain, for instance, is crucial. From warehouses to transportation, to delivery, advances in IoT have resulted in competitive and cost-effective solutions that can help achieve efficiencies in operations and logistics.
Think it, make it, roll it
New insights, innovative ideas, dynamic analysis, rapid implementation, and predictive vis-a-vis prescriptive are all indicators of a rapidly agile culture. Trending tools and technology can bring that capability to an enterprise.
Hitherto unheard of services such as next-day or same-day deliveries rely on lean and just-in-time inventory management systems. Quick turnaround rests on mutual trust and solid relationships between acting parties. Doing away with operational and delivery chain waste is also an inherent need in this sector. Blockchain technology has the power to make this a reality. Immutability if distributed ledger records can democratize the supply chain. Smart contracts can be written on blockchain, invoices can be generated and even payments can be settled quickly. Even tracing procure-to-pay cycles can be done in real-time using blockchain and IoT. Walmart, for instance, embraced blockchain when it mandated fresh produce to be tracked in real-time (RT) using blockchain.
Transportation of temperature controlled goods can benefit greatly. The Swiss firm Skycell has used blockchain–enabled air freight containers to supply biopharmaceuticals at a fraction of the original cost. Cloud applications can help record all documentation at the source of origin on a blockchain ledger, enabling smooth clearing of customs and secure data sharing throughout the shipping.
Vehicles can communicate with each other, with the warehouses, and with a centralized control tower using IoT and even blockchain. This can bring down borrowing costs and hence increase liquidity. Obviously, this helps businesses get higher ROI.
What lies within, emanates without
A company is as successful as its employees. In a business that spans multitudes of acting personnel across centers, trucks, shipment handlers, storehouse managers, suppliers, retailers, transporters, ‘being connected’ is the foundation pillar of a collaborative culture. Tools that promote such seamless connect keep employees and stakeholders engaged, motivated, and informed. Connected systems ensure trust among those on-the-move, those sitting on the ground, and those who are at the back-end.
Store replenishment, low waste inventory management, predictive order and supply management, etc. can all be done via advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Data driven insights can lead to informed choices, better predictions and calculated risks.
Demand forecasting is the backbone of a logistics-based industry. AI-based predictions can help achieve this with greater accuracy. Automated workflows, warehouse management, planning optimal delivery routes, and monitoring product quality along the shipment process are strong use cases for AI’s power play. Customer support can be enhanced using AI in conversational chatbots, backed with real-time view of the situation inside. Cloud being the fulcrum of this universe, integrated applications can bring the entire operational view onto a single dashboard, accessed from a mobile device, enabling tighter monitor and control of the complete business.
What’s on the platter?
Microsoft Dynamics has an entire suite of options that can facilitate and promote distributors and logistic companies. From Dynamics NAV to Office 365, there are solutions for communication, ERP, and order fulfillment as a smart conglomeration of leading-edge solutions. Techminds has partnerships and experience to customize and tailor-make software for distribution across industries.
From technical implementation, training, operational support, to managed services, Techminds can help you leverage the fast-paced technological changes to aim at surmounting and riding the global disruption.
Download the white paper by Techminds Group to gain understanding on how to use the latest technology to enable your business to scale new heights of success.