Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The wireless trend of supply chain management

Nowadays, with the wireless technology growing so fast, more and more people and business started to rely on their smart phones or mobile devices. For supply chain management, there are 10 trends and technologies which have impacts on supply chain operations spanning production, distribution, retail and remote service. By adopting wireless technology in supply chain management, a company can save at least 40 minutes per crew per day, and up to $2.1 million in overtime according to a research conducted by Intermec.

These 10 trends and technologies are:
1. Comprehensive connectivity – from 802.11 wireless LAN technologies, cellular networks, Bluetooth
2. Voice and GPS communication integrated into rugged computers
3. Speech recognition
4. Digital imaging
5. Portable printing
6. 2D & other bar coding advances
9. Remote management
10. Wireless and device security

Some of these trends are obvious and now have been widely used in supply chain management. For example, express companies now have all the packages’ location information recorded from the customers sent the packages using GPS technology to the packages are delivered to the designated address. This made it easier for express companies to identify the reason when the packages are lost or stolen. Thus, they can react quickly or even have a standardization process to deal with these things.

A good speech recognition system can help workers increase the productivity because they do not need to see the computer display. This is good news especially for blind people. A case shows that a non-profit organization use this technology to train blind people to work in the assembly lines and the productivity increased by 25%.

Technologies like digital imaging, RFID and 2D bar coding allow suppliers to keep their supply records easily. Digital imaging can reduce the process of using manual invoice and then inputting the invoices by hand. RFID helps manufacturers to manage inventory. Advanced bar coding technology can enable more information to be stored in the bar code. By scanning the bar code, the information will automatically be entered in the database.

Remote management and securities are the issues related to using these technologies. Because of the new way to manage supply chain, how to manage and standardize this new method also becomes popular.

However, due to the instability nature of wireless network or Bluetooth, here comes a question. What if the network suddenly crashed? The sudden crash will cause how much loss. There is no such data but I can imagine that the number is huge. Also, dealing with this kind of emergency will cost a lot. 


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