Making the Case for Establishing a Smart Supply Chain

June 3

The COVID-19 outbreak has put pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to make their operations more digital and IoT-based. Because of this, a smart supply chain is definitely one solution that should be considered.

Using disruptive technologies, a smart supply chain helps reduce stress surrounding issues, such as costs, compliance, and training.

Here’s how a smart supply chain can help manufacturers transform their business to meet demands successfully and efficiently both now (during the health crisis) and in the future.

Building an Intelligent Supply Chain

The concept of the smart supply chain centers on digital methods for practical solutions, such as gathering performance data in real-time. The ability to gain real-time data speeds up maintenance cycles and contributes to proactive decision-making to streamline operations. The intelligent supply chain is based on a digital transformation focused on achieving greater efficiency and productivity through richer, more efficient data collection.

Automation will also play an increasingly more significant role for every imaginable supply chain concern. It can help reduce or eliminate waste, while increasing quality and productivity for designers, manufacturers, and management analysts. Automation will further be useful for logistics, as well as after-sales to maximize value in brand experiences.

Today’s Intelligent Applications for Suppliers

Learning from customers about their experiences in real-time speeds up timeframes related to product development, as products can be refined at a faster pace.

Ultimately, the merging of cloud platforms with digital processes is defining the supply chains of the future. And the adoption of machine learning and IoT devices will play a significant role in supply chains in the decade ahead.

Here are supply chain applications being used today:

  • Intelligent asset management (IAM) – This activity is essential for researching deeper customer insights, sales performance, and new services. IAM covers the entire scope of an asset’s lifecycle, from engineering to upgrading, and beyond.
  • Monitoring and connecting fleets in real-time – When vehicles share connectivity, they can be managed more efficiently in terms of routing. Weather and traffic conditions have always been factors in shipping, and digital intelligence allows for smooth last-minute changes.
  • Sensor networks for global tracking – The placement of IoT sensors throughout business networks is necessary to adopting intelligent supply chain principles. These sensors can not only respond to logistics insights, but they can also connect business events through IoT infrastructure.
  • Automating redundant warehouse tasks – Collaborative robots are already taking over repetitive warehouse tasks. Many companies are combining collaborative robots with augmented reality (AR) in the packing process to speed up the time between order and delivery.
  • Planning and scheduling manufacturing orders – Machine learning algorithms now play a key role in both the planning and scheduling of manufacturing orders. Smart data is used for the automated routing of products.

How Digital Processes are Shaping the New Supply Chain

It’s crucial for manufacturers to know how consumers respond to their products. This information can, for example, be used to shape product upgrades. Paying attention to market response has increasing vitality when supply chain costs shift toward uncertainty. Market data can help diversify product designs as well. The faster that data is collected, and actionable insights are gathered, the sooner manufacturers can enhance customer experiences.

The idea of continuous market feedback is in its infancy but, as the adoption of intelligent supply chain technologies grows, it will surely become the norm at some point in the near future. Suppliers can prepare for this revolutionary model by investing in IoT software and sensors.

Collecting real-time data on product performance in the background, without disrupting systems, is part of this valuable seamlessness.

The smart supply chain is the answer to many of today’s business infrastructure problems. The more suppliers can be interconnected through common platforms, the more information they can share for refining operations. Smart technology is here to stay, so the more that manufacturing firms embrace it, the more likely they are to achieve greater reach and agility.

Johannes Beekman

About the author

After 25 years in engineering, Johannes Beekman founded IoT Marketing with the goal of helping companies bring wide-scale awareness to their inventions. He received a Master of Science in Physics degree from the Eindhoven University of Technology, and a Master in Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and started his career in the semiconductor field. Johannes pioneered two successful wafer fab startups for Philips Electronics; one in Europe and the second one in Asia. And served as Senior Program Manager for Sematech, where he provided solutions for semiconductor industry-wide product improvement and cost reduction challenges. Johannes has also published articles on several trade-focused websites.


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