August 9, 2017

4 Technologies to Improve Supply Chain Management

Having done a lot of research and writing on supply chain management, I can say without doubt that SCM has changed a lot in the past twenty years. Over the past two decades, supply chain management or SCM has experienced a lot of ‘revolutions’.

The first revolution was the shift from the concept of logistics to the concept of supply chain. Other notable revolutions include the introduction of the lean and six sigma approaches. The more recent revolutions were orchestrated on the back of technology advancement.

The modern SCM concepts of TQM and JIT are driven by technology. Moreover, the introduction of technology such as barcode, RFID and warehouse drones has changed how items are replenished, stocked in warehouse and delivered to end customers. Currently, supply chain management is undergoing a major transformation whether it is the use of drones for online fulfilment or unmanned mobile robots in warehouses. Moreover, future advancements in artificial intelligence may make supply chain self-orchestrated and completely autonomous.

While self-orchestrated and completely autonomous supply chain remains a distant dream, there are some SCM technologies that business owners and/or supply chain managers can currently use to improve their supply chain. So, without further ado, let’s look at the 3 SCM technologies to improve supply chain management.

Warehouse Technology

Today, warehouse managers can use mobile innovations to seam up the information mustered on the floor. To enable more efficient operations and improved decision-making, mobile applications, wearables and handheld scanners are helping warehouse supervisors/ managers connect every warehouse aspect together. As slow fulfillment times or inaccuracy can stop the growth of a business, the use of the aforementioned-technology in the warehouse is extremely important.

Road Technology

The job of truck drivers becomes extremely dangerous when their managers are unable to monitor them. The reason for this is the lack of sleep and long hours experienced by these drivers. By enabling them to clock in and out remotely, mobile technology enables drivers to provide their managers with accurate information related to how long they’ve been working. This in turn helps to lower the chances of driver fatigue and ultimately, accidents. Moreover, thanks to technology, today you can create bills of materials, monitor distribution, manage shipment and organize your inventory data on the go.

Tracking Technology

If you’ve been running your business for a while, then you’d well know how customers can lose their tempers at the slightest of delays in delivery/shipment. Yet to deal with an angry customer who wanted to know where their order was? If yes, then you should count yourself extremely lucky. But remember, things won’t remain the same forever. On the other hand, if you’ve had an angry customer scream in your face, know you’re not alone. Many other people have been in the same boat.

To keep up with shipments, a mistake that many people make is using everything from written reports to calendars. If you’re one of them then let me ask you this: do you hate yourself and want to give yourself a punishment? If you answered no, then you shouldn’t think twice about using the simpler and more efficient ways of collecting and appraising information.

The first and most important step in the right direction is the use of technology for tracking shipments/orders. You will be able to serve customers better, improve support to the different departments/functions and grow your business if you have key shipment information available at your fingertips.

Thanks to the handheld scanners and more accurate tracking technology available today, customers can now track their packages and find out when they’ll land on their doorsteps. Since the patience of the customer can dwindle, enabling the customer to track his/her package is crucial. And by giving customers the ability to track their packages in real-time, businesses can greatly improve customer satisfaction which in turn will help them grow and be successful.

Buying/ Procurement Technology

In the supply chain world, a term that gets thrown around a lot nowadays is purchase order management or POM. To some, POM is simply knowing what stock-keeping units (SKUs) are in a container. For others, purchase order management means being fully integrated with the systems of a supplier to determine exactly when a purchase order was actuated and fulfilled. Regardless of how you perceive it, a software based POM system will help you streamline supply chain in a number of ways.

A sound purchase order management system provides you with the solid data required for year-end metrics. Moreover, it allows you to hold suppliers responsible for delayed or missed orders. In addition to providing you a considerable amount of data, a reliable software based POM system will give you greater visibility of your supply chain. The end-result of this is you being able to serve customers better.

A software based POM system may cost you a bit upfront but the increase in productivity over time with this system more than makes up for what you paid for it initially. In addition to the POM system, another technology aiding the procurement/buying process is barcodes.

After being procured from suppliers, parts and components are assigned bar codes. The information on the barcodes includes date of manufacture, batch number, item no, serial no, order no, etc. This information makes the identification and tracking of the components easy. Also, after entering a warehouse, goods are scanned by a handheld scanner. After decoding the information on the goods/barcode, the scanner immediately logs into the central computer to update inventory records in real-time. This allows a business to know about the inventory at hand and whether more supplies are required.

Technology has changed everything including how supply chain management is performed. By using the aforementioned-technologies, you can improve supply chain management and grow your business.

by Bobby J Davidson

I love our companies  and we love what we do.  For more information on the Davidson Family of Companies, visit  Sign up for my Newsletter at the bottom of this page.