Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.”
– Steve Jobs
Emerging technologies are changing the daily processes for businesses in procurement and supply management. There is an urgent need for managers to build their capacities to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by technological innovations.
But for anyone working in procurement to fully leverage the emerging opportunities, they must first acquaint themselves on the critical aspects of these technologies. With so many opportunities out there, the choice can feel both overwhelming and opaque.
New technologies are also disruptors of the traditional way of doing business. Supply chain managers will need to prepare and align their systems, resources, and man power for the change to be successful.
The following are the top five supply chain technology trends to watch out for:
Managing the procuring processes in today’s competitive and complex business environment can be quite complicated. There are substantial paper-based trails to be maintained. Sometimes the supply and procure processes have to cover multiple stages and geographical locations. It means that one has to deal with a multitude of invoices and payments that represent a transparency headache for managers overseeing the processes.
However, blockchain technology is transforming the supply and logistics industry in a significant way. Typically, the technology features a digital ledger that maintains a log of all the transactions done through the supply systems. The technology is transparent and secure, and no third parties can interfere with its workings. It also features essential applications for payments, tracking, contract agreements, and exchange of information.
Using blockchain is a no brainer if you wish to improve the efficiency and transparency of business transactions from the warehousing to delivery and payment.
Studies reveal that precious time and resources are wasted on trivial procure and supply tasks conducted manually by the staff. At least 55 hours are spent weekly on manual paper-based checks and processes. Another 39 hours is spent chasing invoice exceptions, correcting errors, and discrepancies while a further 23 hours is wasted while responding to customer inquiries (source).
However, all of the lost hours could be saved if businesses could automate the tasks through artificial intelligence (AI) technology. With leading tech vendors now releasing products that use machine learning, there is no excuse for the businesses not to implement the use of AI into daily supply tasks.
AI applications like Chatbots can be used to operationalize and streamline the procurement processes. For example, Chatbots can engage with suppliers on business conversations, place a purchasing request, send and receive documents and invoices. They can also be utilized in researching and answering questions about the procurement process.
Additionally, the use of autonomous vehicles could bring an astronomical impact to procuring and logistical systems. They are faster and more accurate and could bring down transportation expenses by reducing labor costs.
Consider AI to save considerable time and money by automating repetitive and manual processes, so your team can concentrate on tasks that make the best use of their expertise.
The Internet of Things
“IoT” for short, is a mechanism used to extend the power of the internet beyond computers and smartphones. It represents a way to communicate with a whole range of other things, processes, and environments and capture data in real time.
Manual business processes are replaced with devices that are able to communicate without human interaction. An automated warehouse robot can pick a list of items knowing exactly where it needs to go and what is the best route to get there. It automatically sends the inventory data to the warehouse management system and the stock is updated in real time.
As with AI, the opportunity to automate will increase the efficiency of your processes, saving you valuable time and money.
3D printers simplify supply chain processes by producing products closer to customers. If a company places 3D printers strategically near their markets, they will benefit from an enhanced purchase capacity due to mass customization and product personalization.
Heavy industries like aircraft manufacturers are using 3D printed components (source) to reduce their reliance on warehouses and keep the inventory cost low. They can print components in the factory rather than purchasing and depositing a minimum quantity stock that might not be used for a long period of time.
SpaceX is another great example, as they used 3D printed parts for the rockets. They revealed details about its use of 3D printing in the SuperDraco thruster engine for the Dragon Spacecraft, as well as in one of the Falcon 9 rocket’s engines. (source). A critical component of the engine is a 3D-printed main oxidizer valve which was manufactured (3D printed) in 2 day rather than in months.
Drones are emerging as a potentially game-changing alternative to traditional modes of delivery and their usage in warehousing and distribution facilities is expected to grow in the next few years, making a significant impact on supply chain systems.
They can reduce the lag time in e-commerce between the ordering and delivery of products. Companies like Google and Amazon are investing in autonomous delivery systems to optimize how products make their way through the supply chain.
Drones are equipped with topnotch capabilities to take physical inventory in warehouses and stores. They can also move items more quickly and efficiently thanforklifts and conveyor systems. Finally, they can also be used for deliveries between a production facility and distribution facilities.
New technologies are disrupting major industries across the world, including the procurement and supply chain industry. While they will replace some traditional jobs, the five sectors discussed above will also create new roles for employees with technical training. Companies should be part of the digital transformation to cut operational costs and gain an edge over their competitors.
Here at DeepStream, we are all about saving your procurement managers valuable time. Our next-generation technology is revolutionising the way tenders are conducted. If you want to see how for yourself, book a demo with us now.