A technology revolution is occurring across multiple industries and those in the supply chain can most certainly take advantage of it. With tools such as automated data collection and barcode scanner software, there is plenty of room to advance the company and become more efficient and productive with the use of these tools. Industry professional Tom O'Connor wrote on Area Development Online that with an integrated deployment of these technologies and instantaneous data capture, supply chains can be tied together much more simple and make everything much easier for enterprises.
"Because the control room and warehouse employees have faster access to business-critical data and end-to-end situational awareness of production, throughput and distribution, an integrated technology approach will result in significant increases in efficiency, productivity, security and cost-savings," he wrote.
Regarding barcode scanners, he said these devices can be a big improvement on the manual-receiving process that can usually lead to an increased number of data errors and delays, O'Connor wrote. Mobile devices with barcode scanners or readers can instantly categorize items as they arrive, thereby eliminating much of the waste that would happen before. This also allows information to be scanned easily into a data collection system, which can then be uploaded into the organization's network and utilized as the company sees fit.
Barcode technology becomes more imperative the larger a warehouse facility gets, he said. As the number of shelves, crates and containers increases, it may be nearly impossible to manually keep track of everything by hand. Putting a barcode scanner in place makes work much easier and more efficient, allowing companies to rid themselves of errors that may have cost a lot of money and man hours in past days.
The use of these tools will likely see a large increase in the coming years, as ABI Research found that barcode scanners will see 6.3 million units being delivered into the asset management, logistics and authentication market by 2018. This will make that market worth about $775 million, as more companies are quickly starting to realize just how important it is to make the supply chain more efficient and productive.
What Else to Adopt
Some other devices and tools can also be useful for organizations looking to become more efficient and technological on the supply chain level. O'Connor said tablets will help once they are tied into the inventory management system.
"What makes tablets special is their portability, their ease-of-use, screen size and the ability to add new applications," he said. "Tablets' smaller screens and increased portability allow employees to access and update information from anywhere - on a loading dock, on the warehouse floor or in a freezer."
One example he used to explain how tablets can help is with incoming shipments, which will quickly be able to be organized and categorized correctly at the point of contact with a wireless tablet. These devices will also give employees universal access to a system whenever and wherever they need it, which will serve the company well in becoming much more efficient across the board.
Danielle Palmquist wrote on Manufacturing.net that with new technological solutions in place, supply chains will see many of the communication and cooperation barriers that once existed disappear. Especially due to the ability to track and monitor orders, inventory management will be done in real time and customer demands will be better met. Using the example of the food supply chain, she said this will allow suppliers and organizations to more quickly and efficiently serve their customers, something that should be great for the business's revenue.