Technology and Supply Chain Visibility: The Corridors of Power

As industries resurrect their work operations, the quest for achieving end-to-end visibility is revisited like never before. While the pandemic has been dubbed as the Black Swan event by many, the truth remains that it has triggered greater interest in striving for supply chain visibility and enhanced the need for forecasting. In this feature, we unveil the many advantages and the latest trends in technology that is driving supply chain visibility.

Transparent supply chain management and effective supply chain visibility play a crucial role in a company’s continued growth and successful brand image. Accountability is the clarion call of the times with transparent supply chain management that provides all the requisite information and practices for all members of the supply chain process.

Supply chain management has evolved, and the underlying technologies used by supply chain leaders have brought about a paradigm shift in the way supply chains operate.

A complete array of supply chain visibility technologies, be it the Internet of Things (IoT) to big data analytics, enable supply chain leaders to make informed decisions.

How crucial is Supply Chain Visibility?

COVID-19 has truly surfaced as a catalyst for companies to revisit their global supply chain strategies and speed up the adoption of Digital Supply Network models and capabilities. Supply Chain Visibility has always been a goal over the years but the pandemic has made its importance felt even more.

“There was a time when most companies’ supply chains were linear and lean. A handful of specialists and a good Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system could make sure that products were manufactured and delivered efficiently to customers. Those days are over,” writes Sameer Gupta, Chief Manager, JK Tyres.

“Globalisation, competition and growing complexities in the marketplace have made it more difficult for companies to get a handle on their ever-expanding supplier networks. Clear visibility to your entire supply chain is challenging but also more critical today than ever before. 

“Supply chain visibility is important because it balances supply and demand, allows you to rapidly respond to disruptions in the supply chain, optimizes your company’s processes, and manages global suppliers”, Mr Gupta shares.

The latest trends in technology that can help achieve Supply Chain Visibility

While many industries are already adopting technological trends like Artificial Intelligence, Big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain Technology, logistics is one sector that has just begun to leverage the value of analytical tools available to maintain profitability.

Players operating in the supply chain and logistics industry are now realizing the potential of the latest technologies to solve the complexities of running a global logistics network.

Adopting newer technologies and systems in the supply chain is routing a new era or industrial transformation, thereby facilitating the companies to track their operations, enhance supply chain management productivity and engage with customers in digital world.

We look at some of the technologies that are transitioning the landscape of almost all industry verticals, by hearing it from the industry experts.

Harnessing the power of IoT

IoT solutions lead to reduction in operational costs in the fleet management space.

Until a decade ago, details relating to your fleet ( location and real-time tracking) remained unknown. But today, enabling geo-fencing allows you to track a cargo’s journey right from its loading, to its destination, even ensuring its security by enabling geo-fencing. This creates great visibility in business processes and streamlines decision making. So, with connected vehicles the possibilities are endless.

The value of Internet of Things (IoT) lies in its ability to provide visibility into every aspect of the supply chain journey. From individual packages to entire containers, companies can monitor location, condition, integrity, and other critical information about their shipment that is not ordinarily available in the realm of traditionally managed logistics.

Counting On Cloud Technology

Cloud technology helps overcome the recurring obstacle of aggregating data. APIs(Application Programming Interface) available from cloud vendors facilitates the entire process of uploading and downloading data from systems of thousands of partners and providers, and also standardising the data from those partners, whether from mobile devices or data lakes.

“Cloud primarily facilitates access from anywhere, not constrained to a physical location, i.e. a supply chain provider can access relevant data real-time from their facility to interpret, analyse and decide on the best course of action. Efficiency becomes a by-product as layers of manual data-sharing are eliminated aiding quick action. Further any product can be traced bringing in real time visibility to the decision makers on events and statuses”, writes Mr Shivkumar .

However, Mr Agarwal goes on to clarify how Cloud technology does not specifically bring efficiency and visibility in supply chain.

“Cloud technology doesn’t specifically bring efficiency and visibility in supply chain. Cloud technologies are essentially alternatives to in house computing resources which were earlier maintained by companies themselves for reasons like data security, privacy, etc.”

Featured Comments

“Since a few years I have started seeing a greater interest within logistics service providers to increase supply chain visibility. As the sector becomes more and more competitive, the need to increase efficiency has become a survival strategy. Supply chain visibility helps providers with the data required to make decisions that help them become more efficient.”

~Hanish Agarwal, Director, Freightsy

“Disposable & Returnable Asset tracking Technology redefines package level real time visibility of a product aiding each stakeholder’s decision-making. Adoption by carriers and 3PL as a solution would be essential towards large scale utility to bring the cost down. Artificial Intelligence along with Machine learning has helped businesses move towards intelligent transportation, route planning giving better visibility from customers to operators.”

~ Arvind Shivkumar, Chief Business Officer, Vamaship

 “Mitigating risks is something every business owner wishes upon. Supply chain visibility delivers on this wish by helping you identify risks long before they pose a potential threat. Every mitigated risk results in improved efficiency of operations, a better quality of goods, greater brand loyalty, and, ultimately, higher returns.”  

~ Sameer Gupta, Chief Manager, JKTyres

“The internet is filled with keywords like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Blockchain and IOT as the key trends in Supply Chain Technology, however, these are not silo technology models that can exist by self, they need an ecosystem, a place to thrive, survive and produce the required results.”

~ Deepesh Kuruppath, Founder and CEO, CargoFL

“The current pandemic has exposed all challenges for a resilient supply chain model and opened up opportunities for many logtech players. There is a huge mindset shift towards adopting digital solutions which can make supply chains more agile and connected. Technologies like Big Data, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Robotics will make a bigger impact and redefine the future of supply chain.”

~ Mohammed Zakkiria A, Co-founder, FreightBro

This is an abridged version of an original story which appeared in the July issue of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete unedited story, download your e-copy now.

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