Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Technology Trends in Supply Chain

2D Barcodes
As the size of the organizations increase, the number of items flowing in the supply chain of organizations also increases rapidly. To track these items simple barcodes will no longer be sufficient as the information required to track them is a lot. So the organizations are starting to shift to a 2D barcode system which will allow them to record several thousand bytes of data which is way much more information than the traditional barcodes can. They are also called as Matrix codes. They are being used in item management, traceability and other operations. Improvements in auto focusing imaging technology allow for barcodes to be read from as far as 50 feet away and even in the dark.

One example of 2D barcodes is they are used in pharmaceutical industry to track the counterfeit and recalled drugs and generally to improve traceability of the drugs.

Bar code Scanner
Social Media
Social Media becoming increasingly important in supply chains year after year. This is making the supply chains greatly efficient. Social networks provide a wealth of data which can be used all over the supply chain. These sites can be used gauge the customer and market sentiments and plan the supply chain accordingly. For example the customers’ satisfaction with a product can be gauged from social media and based on that the demand can be forecasted more accurately and the inventory can be restocked accordingly. A lot of new social network websites like http://chain.co/ are being introduced just for organizations to communicate with each other and these are being used by the partners in the supply chain to communicate and keep tabs on the supply chain. A lot of existing ERP and other supply chain management software have been integrated with social networks to communicate information quicker.

DHL are involved in a new project called ‘MyWays’ which is an innovative way of performing the last mile of delivery. They use the crowd of people to deliver to customers where and when they want. This allows people to deliver packages to customers whose package is to be delivered to a location which is along the same route they are taking. This is revolutionizing how the last mile delivery is being done.

3D Printing
3D printing is a huge technological innovation. It is set to have a massive impact on the supply chains as well. This will reduce the complexity of the supply chain and help in reducing a lot of the costs involved in logistics and other parts of the supply chain. This also allows to easily customize the products based on the customers’ preferences. 3D printing has a huge advantage as it produces very little wastage as the items are created by adding materials instead of subtracting them. This has great scope to be used in the lean manufacturing industry. The time taken to produce items is a lot, so sing 3D printers to mass produce the items is not set to happen in the immediate future. For the time being 3D printing can only be used in the supply chains in case of emergencies.


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