Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Will improved technology improve Supply Chain?

Recently consumers have become increasingly demanding, with very high expectations of timely delivery, quality of service and most of all cost reduction. As the world becomes more global the effect of these demand increases makes it very important for companies to have very efficient supply chain systems. For companies to stay globally competitive in a complex business world more companies have started to place more emphasis on incorporating technology into their supply chain systems. Supply chain managers realize that the incorporation of the latest technology properly can serve as a competitive advantage, as they can monitor operations more closely and almost instantaneously, and gain better accountability.
Today’s technology has extensive capability when it comes to keeping a company’s production on track, anticipating and repairing mistakes, and making modifications that guarantee a top-quality product. Every link in the supply chain can be monitored simultaneously, and automated notification systems are especially valuable for sending a single message to many players through a variety of media channels. Computerized shipping and tracking, and electronic invoicing, are also core components of a modern supply chain management system that is designed to keep customers satisfied.
The burgeoning array of supply chain-related apps and features for smart phones and other mobile devices is adding tremendous portability to supply chain management. With their long-lasting battery life, keyboard capabilities, barcode scanning, RFID tagging, high-quality digital cameras and speech recognition features, tablet computers and smart phones provide excellent functionality for warehouse operations. This is especially true for handheld devices that have been “ruggedized,” or specifically designed to withstand harsh environments and potential damage from being dropped or banged.
The mobility, flexibility and convenience of wireless devices mean supply chain managers can coordinate processes at every link in the chain, regardless of their physical location. In addition, employees, vendors and other supply chain partners can play active roles in ensuring efficiency—for example; truck drivers can use GPS-equipped devices to immediately report transportation snags that may disrupt processes further along the supply chain.
Future Technologies can only continue to support firms’ supply chain management Systems by providing added flexibility and dynamics to their capabilities. As more technologies and innovations keep improving many key components to a company’s supply chain system will improve. For example, not too long ago Simple barcodes for tagging products was the benchmark in tracking products through a chain, today companies now use a lot of RFIDs and QR codes to track products through the chain. And information about the products location, condition and more can be determined more quickly. As these technologies improve information would be available to the company almost instantly, and thus giving the company more flexibility to track, monitor, control or make changes to the product or process in the chain. Although, I often ask when the continual improvements of technology would begin to impede and make human factors unnecessary? I concluded that would never happen as more technology innovations become commercial and make way into our systems, there would also be an increased need for people to manage them. 

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