Technology has had a tectonic impact on the world of Logistics and Supply Chain. It has changed the very foundation of the logistics and warehousing. Integrating key technology innovations with digitalization in the context of logistics screams absolute necessity of the hour and with revolutionary innovations offered, technology is undoubtedly a powerful nexus that connects the elements inside the logistics and supply chain sector together.
There has been a noticeable shift of businesses towards online processes, and the need to monitor online transaction and facilitating transactions without compromising on security has become undeniably important.
Here we look at the important technologies that are the absolute pillars of the structure of the logistics and supply chain segment:
The Logistics Sector is simply not restricted to storage, transportation and warehousing of goods. It involves complex operations involving diverse stakeholders with third party intermediaries. As such, transparency and traceability of the supply chain becomes essential, and this is where Blockchain comes in.
At its most basic level, Blockchain is a database. Chris Kirchner, CEO at the supply chain software startup Slync, described it as a collaborative system of record that provides a single source of truth among partners with immutability to protect against data manipulation that is built upon the idea of transparency and veracity.
For instance, Blockchain can be used to institute the chain of custody in a container shipment. In such a circumstance, ownership of the freight would be transferred digitally once a set of conditions has been met (such as delivery from origin port to destination port) with a specific action (such as confirmation that the container has been unloaded from the vessel) triggering the change of ownership and payment between parties.
The underlying structure of Blockchain, in theory, would confirm the veracity of the information being entered, the data that triggers those actions. If any data were incorrect, it would be identifiable by other entities participating in the Blockchain.
Transportation Management System
A Transportation management system (TMS) is a software designed for planning and optimizing transportation operations and shipment of goods. It is a subset of Supply Chain Management. At the outset, TMS can be used as a catalyst in improving shipping efficiency, reduce operational costs and wastage, gain supply-chain visibility and deliver customer satisfaction and retention. With the help of TMS, a user can perform three primary tasks: compare services and prices of carriers available to ship a customer’s order, book the shipment and track movement of the shipment till the time it is delivered.
Enterprise Resource Planning
Supply Chain Management involves multiple interactions between different suppliers and partners to obtain resources necessary to bring the finished goods to the market. Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP plays a key role in ensuring seamless facilitation of this. ERP revolves around the idea of eradicating inefficiency, tackling waste reduction and ensuring seamless direction of orders and communication. There are multiple benefits that can be reaped by infusing ERP into Supply Chain Management, such as:
- Tackling IT issues to ensure less hindrance towards efficiency
- Facilitates better communication and efficiency across different elements and departments within the supply chain
- Increased productivity and regulation reducing workload on workers
- Better quality of customer service
- Flexible solutions that can be better adapted to tackle the challenges that lie on the path to business growth
Warehouse Management System
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software that lets organizations administer warehouse operations during the time period of goods and materials entering a warehouse, till they move out.
- Warehouse Management System plays a pivotal role in managing and regulating the inventory, at any time in any given location.
- A robust WMS in an organization means efficient auditing, pickup process and inventory balance.
- A warehouse management system can save a lot of time and operational cost by getting a centralized storage location. With this, storage, shipping and distribution will prove to be easier and seamless.
- WMS can be used by infusing it alongside a transportation management system or an inventory management system.
WMS can be used as stand-alone systems or modules in a larger ERP system. They may vary in shape, size and complexity.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interrelated computing devices that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and are enabled to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT is a giant network of connected things and people – all of which collect and share data about the way they are used and about the environment around them. IoT has revolutionized the world of logistics by improving efficiency and transparency. Logistics companies can leverage IoT to achieve increased efficiency in supply chain management, primarily through Real-Time Tracking, Proactive Delivery and Predictive Analysis.
Technology has evolved over time, magnanimously to revolutionize the Logistics and Warehousing Industry, mainly by providing innovative solutions to increase efficiency, productivity and lessen manual tasks. The prerogative lies on how one can balance the benefits that technology offers, with the security concerns that it comes with.