4 Supply Chain Technology Trends That Are Game Changers in 2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic, roughly 75% of American businesses reported problems in their supply chain due to COVID-19; according to an Institute for Supply Chain survey.

The technology available for business supply chains has always been hit or miss; depending on the industry and how the technology is used. However, the pandemic has made it clearer than ever that supply chain technology needs a serious makeover. 

What is a Supply Chain? 

A supply chain is the system of actions that leads a product from its earliest stages of development to its delivery. This generally includes the acquisition of raw materials, the manufacturing process, packing, shipping, and delivery.

Moreover, due to the fact that the supply chain includes so many steps, it typically uses many different companies. These companies most likely specialize in one specific phase of the supply chain. Therefore, the use of automation technologies to take some stress off of supply chain partners can greatly increase efficiency. 

How Can Technology Improve Your Supply Chain? 

Including new and improved supply chain tech can make yours stronger and more dependable. Moreover, it can even increase your output, which can boost profits for every member of the supply chain. 

Here are a few ways in which your company can accomplish this:

1. Drive Comprehensive Visibility 

Did you know that roughly 68% of disruptions in product fulfillment happen as a result of incorrect demand information? This often occurs when parts of the supply chain are not kept informed of updates in information; such as the level of customer demand that your company is facing. It can lead to stock shortages that can greatly affect your fulfillment processes.

The best way to combat this issue is to institute real-time data along the supply chain. This means that each link of the chain can have information updates. This can include your demand; as well as the availability of tools and materials, an issue that drastically affected many companies during early 2020. 

2. Better Manage a Complex Supplier Network 

The larger the scope of your company, the more third-party vendors you’ll have within your supply chain. For some companies — especially in major industries like health care — this can mean having upwards of 6,000 individual vendors at your disposal.

In situations like this, hiring a third-party logistics company is often the best way to make sure that each member of your supply chain is effectively managed. Your 3PL will be able to track data in real-time, manage your contracts with vendors, automating payments and invoicing, and much more. 

3. Find and Engage Diverse Partners 

These days, most consumers would rather support small businesses in their community than a huge corporation. Luckily, you can include community businesses within your supply chain using the concept of supplier diversity.

In many cases, small businesses will have fewer delays with fulfillment due to their limited scope, which makes them great partners for a smooth supply chain. 

Additionally, incorporating a 3PL into your management functions will allow you and your supply chain partners to enjoy access to increased automation and effective processes. 

4 Game-Changing Supply Chain Technologies 

Not sure how to navigate the technology when it comes to updating your supply chain management practices? Here are 4 of the most cutting-edge supply chain technology innovations that you should consider incorporating! 

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Platforms 

Nearly every supply chain today has access to a huge chunk of data that could provide important insights into customer demand, common supply chain errors, and much more. Companies can enjoy access to this crucial data using AI and ML platforms.

AI and ML technologies monitor every facet of your supply chain, from raw material handling to customer deliveries. 

With the information you gain from your AI and ML tech, you’ll be able to see where processes could be optimized for faster delivery and increased revenue. The data you gain from customer relations could even help you to better manage demand and customer retention.   

2. Blockchain 

Blockchain is one of the top ledger technologies today, designed to create a completely accurate record of all transactions made throughout your supply chain. Because the information gathered by blockchain is immutable, it establishes a sense of trust between members of the supply chain.

Blockchain can also help to establish a trail of accurate transactional information that protects your company from issues in the event of an audit or investigation. 

Lastly, blockchain prevents information leakage, helps to identify fraud, and pinpoints questionable suppliers. 

3. Technology Automation 

Automation and robotics have been helping to carry out basic tasks in warehouse and transportation settings for many years. They can help to save a great deal of time and manpower in the fulfillment process.

However, as technology advances, it’s important to stay up to date with the new capabilities of supply chain automation, which could soon include tasks such as picking and packing customer orders and assisting with heavy loading. 

4. 3D Printing 

3D printing allows companies to take unnecessary links out of the supply chain, getting products to the customer much faster. This amazing supply chain technology could also reduce carbon emissions, cut production costs, and increase a company’s competitive edge within its market. 

Invest in Supply Chain Technology for Greater Success 

Though many companies tend to stick to the process as it’s always been done, it’s important that you don’t underestimate the power of new technologies in the field. In fact, incorporating new supply chain technology may be the very action that launches your company to the top of your industry.

By investing in your supply chain tools, you can enhance the quality of your metrics, equip your vendor partners for success, and increase customer satisfaction. It’s a win all the way around.

Looking to get your own technological revolution started by partnering with a 3PL? Learn more about 3PL services online with Print Bind Ship today or schedule a free consultation with one of our experts.