What is supply chain automation?
Supply chain automation involves making use of digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), optical character recognition (OCR), as well as robotics to reduce the operational cost involved in delivering a product or service.
It refers to systemizing and automating part or all of a workflow to improve supply chain processes. It focuses on making use of automation technology to centrally manage a complex web of working parts.
By automating all or even parts of your supply chain, you can reduce your manual effort while boosting productivity levels, efficiency, and accuracy.
What supply chain activities can be automated?
Instead of manually procuring and sorting documents such as delivery orders, recipes, and various bills before the production stage can begin, you can use supply chain automation to enhance the speed and efficiency of back-office tasks and achieve end-to-end document automation. It will also reduce the scope for human error in back-office processes and the eliminate risk of misplacing or incorrectly processing documents.
There are several ways for you to automate transportation, but one of the most effective ways to do that is to use artificial intelligence and multi-dimensional monitoring. This helps you track your shipments in real-time so that you know exactly where the vehicles are, what products are in transport, and you’ll even receive notifications if you have to deal with any potential delays.
This makes it possible for you to optimize the transportation of materials and products in your supply chain, thus reducing cost and delivery time. Some organiaztions have even started using autonomous vehicles like drones to optimize transport supply within your network. These vehicles might not require drivers, which makes it possible for you to transport goods with more flexibility.
You can use supply and demand automation to identify out-of-stock or stock-at-hand items at a quicker pace, thus making sure that your systems reflect your inventory always accurately. You can also use forecasting to predict demand. It uses historical data and market trends to give you accurate forecasts of customer orders so that you can prepare the inventory that you’ll need in advance and make sure that you always enough supply to meet demand.
You can also use automated vehicles like warehouse robots to move throughout your warehouse and take care of pick and pack tasks.
What are the benefits of automated SCM?
Supply chain automation has several advantages. Here are the most significant benefits of automated supply chain management.
Decreasing operating costs
Making use of supply chain automation reduces labour costs, inventory costs, warehousing costs, as well as overhead costs associated with inventory storage, including rent, labor and energy costs.
With automation, you can optimizing current resources, making it possible for work to go on around the clock, without human intervention. This makes it possible for companies to gain up to 20 percent more productivity in areas that have been automated.
Automation makes it possible for manufacturers to increase of the volume of products that they can produce. Supply chain automation even makes it possible to incorporate the skills of trained workers with the accuracy of automated equipment, thus increasing the quantity and quality of production.
Automation reduces the scope for human error. It mnimizes the errors associated with manual processes, making it possible to plan cost control by providing accurate, real-time information regarding inventory levels.
Improving time savings
By streamlining business processes, supply chain automation generates time savings by minimizing the time taken for implementing labor intensive tasks like accounting, thus helping manufacturers save a very large amount of time and money.
Integrating with large suppliers
The possibility of integrating a company’s systems with those of large suppliers is one of the biggest advantages of automating a business’s supply chain. This is because these integrations create a strong foundation of which offers more visibility between partners.
Automation can help companies comply with industry standards by standardizing pricing, products and vendors. It can also help meet regulatory requirements and aid with risk management and overall supply chain management.
Automation makes it possible for you to rapidly respond to a lot of unforeseen circumstances. You can respond to quickly changing business objectives and needs by using low-code platforms with an API-driven approach to create auto-responsive apps for websites, tablets, and smartphones at the speed that you need.
Better customer service
There are soem bottlenecks in the supply chain where human labour can’t match the efficiency and accuracy that an automated warehouse can bring.
Automated warehouses can use small pick and pack robots that can quickly travel through the warehouse and identify the right object via SKU, UPC or even RFID in some cases.
These warehousing robots don’t need to drop other tasks in order to pick the product they need to move. But if warehouse robots seem too farfetched and expensive to you, you could even use more affordable techniques.
As an example, there is a Massachusetts-based company that uses a system of conveyor belts to carries all products that need to be palletized above the warehouse floor to their final destination to be shipped.
Keep Up With Shipping Demands
Supply chain automation technology can take care of tasks like figuring out the optimal way to pack a truck, plan the most efficient route, report transit status to clients and connect the right truckers to the right shipments. It can streamline the entire transportation process to cut down on delivery costs. This allows your employees to focus on other important tasks while your automation technology figures out the the best routes and even sending updates and notifications to your customers.