One of the advantages of a flexible warehouse management system is the ability to test new ideas with limited risk. If a company has solutions in place to perform automated data collection from innovative plans, it can see instant results. Managers can stop new strategies as soon as they appear costly or can use the data to share the success with other stakeholders.
Innovation is a great strategy for staying ahead of the competition. Many companies try numerous ideas to take advantage of new technologies and trends. Here are three examples from the recent news of organizations attempting to shake up their supply chain through cooperation, experimentation and robots:
1. Product Delivered With Morning Paper
Amazon is well known for its unique business plans. The Internet retailer uses a variety of ideas and strategies to separate itself from other companies. Many of these business practices involve finding innovative ways to get products to consumers. The most recent Amazon supply chain approach, however, builds off of a very old practice: newspaper delivery.
According to New York Times, Amazon partnered with Chicago Tribune to see if newspaper routes could also deliver products to customers. Physical newspaper circulation has fallen in recent years, but many major metropolitan newspaper vans still drive throughout cities to provide remaining customers with the daily news. The new idea is that paper deliveries will also bring Amazon products to the homes and buildings on routes, so both the newspaper company and Amazon get maximum efficiency from existing travel paths.
Amazon attempted similar ideas in the past and plans to explore other ways to partner with existing delivery companies. In the past, the online retailer tried to use taxis and Uber cars to deliver packages. Amazon said it wants to investigate the possibility of getting pizza delivery drivers to carry out supply chain tasks. The idea could provide additional income for the company making the deliveries and it may save Amazon money on distribution resources. To make it work, Amazon must find businesses with practices closely in line with its goals.
When two companies work together, there needs to be a consistent channel for communication. Any time an organization stores or deliveries packages for another, inventory management systems need to track partner activities and provide information for all invested parties.
2. Package Carried by Flying Robots
Earlier this year, Amazon attempted to use drones to deliver packages. Drones are flying remote-control robots that can carry small loads. The Amazon plan isn't really taking off, but there are other organizations looking to add drones to their delivery options.
Gizmodo reported the government of Dubai is currently exploring the use of drones to send citizens official documents. The new plan calls for top-of-the-line machines equipped with fingerprint and retinal scanners to ensure the proper recipient gets the delivery. Dubai officials feel this new solution could be effective because documents are lightweight and the speed at which drones operate could help citizens who need important forms quickly.
Many supply chains entrust robots with responsibilities. Modern warehouses use sorting machines to create orders and test quality. It's important intelligent machines connect to the company's network so supply chain overseers can monitor robot and automation performance. For example, if a delay occurred during a drone delivery, the organization would want the machine hooked up to an automated data collection solution so they could see problems as they occur.
3. Party in a Box
To save money, two or more organizations could use the same vans or trucks to make deliveries. Urbanful, a nonprofit small-business organization, said many modern companies share resources by grouping their products for customers in the same package.
Noncompetitive companies in the same industry may create combined supply chains to deliver everything a consumer needs for a certain occasion. There are monthly delivery services that batch products from different suppliers so customers can plan a party, prepare for a trip or cook a meal with a single order.
Companies may also package their own products together to create a delivery based around needs. If a business makes or sells kitchen supplies, it could offer a package based around common baking tools or what people will require during certain holidays. Automated data collection solutions should indicate which product consumers order together most often. If an organization combines its products with other businesses, they can turn their partnership into a one-stop shop for consumer needs.