• Data Collection
  • Supply Chain

Solving Common Supply Chain Management Problems with Mobile Data Collection Software

Written by Elias Schoelmann
February 1, 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Supply chains continue to face numerous challenges, but digital technologies can ease barriers.
  • Real-time data can help organizations address challenges that arise from international operations and ever-changing regulations.
  • Mobile data collection software offers a proven means to visibility, speed, and 30% greater efficiency.

Supply chain challenges continue to plague businesses, with 51% of U.S. companies citing supply chain issues as a challenge in 2023. Another survey found that less than half of chief executives are prepared to take long-term action to alleviate these roadblocks.

Prioritizing automation and mobile data collection can help streamline bottlenecks and alleviate barriers caused by these disruptions.

But are the common problems impacting supply chain management?


1. Retaining skilled workers

Retaining a skilled workforce is a key concern of companies across many industries and is of critical importance for supply chain management.

More than ever before, finding a skilled workforce remains a key concern, with 76% of Digital Inventory Report respondents identifying staffing as a top challenge. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 2.1 million jobs could go unfilled by 2030.

Companies and employees alike are under pressure to adapt quickly to always-changing business environments. In addition, businesses are expected to do more with less.

Mobile data collection can help companies address staffing challenges head-on. Through mobile apps and advanced barcoding solutions, organizations can transform cumbersome manual processes into streamlined operations, resulting in increased efficiency and flexibility.

The resulting optimization from streamlined data capture enables employees to concentrate on high-value tasks in the warehouse, rather than tedious, manual processes.

For younger workers, state-of-the-art mobile technology can also be used as a tool to attract and retain younger workers.

In one case, global steel manufacturer NLMK implemented a mobile barcoding solution, reducing labor time for cycle counting inventory by 60%. This higher level of productivity ensured employees were able to focus on meeting customer demand.


2. Cultural Differences or Changes

When companies expand into new markets, they face a number of supply chain hurdles. Professionals must be able to collaborate with suppliers around the world—many of whom operate much differently than they do.

Supply chain management software—especially mobile solutions—helps eradicate damaging data silos that interrupt the flow and exchange of information between a company and its suppliers.

Automated data collection ensures facilities all over the world have access to the same data points in real-time. Inventory data can be captured from a variety of locations and updated in a centralized ERP, ensuring alignment and transparency across the organization.

Leveraging mobile apps that offer multi-lingual capabilities further enhances operations. Equipped with easy-to-use software in their native language, employees from any background are able to work together with fewer misunderstandings.


3. Traceability

Tracing of goods throughout supply chains is more important than ever as governments continue to enact more stringent regulations.

A critical component of the supply chain management process is the tracing of goods throughout the product life cycle, from raw material to distribution. More than 30% of Digital Inventory Report respondents cited this as a current challenge in their operation.

This is even more important for those manufacturers who face compliance requirements like government or FDA traceability guidelines. Traceability software is needed.

To combat challenges with track-and-trace, companies are turning to the supply chain management technology known as mobile barcoding. Connected to your ERP system, mobile barcoding automatically tracks material movements for raw materials, production, and finished goods. This way, material records are always up-to-date.

In the event of a product recall, specific lots or batches become easy to locate without digging through stacks of paper.

The end result? End-to-end supply chain traceability and the agility to pivot quickly and effectively.

TRACEABILITY IN ACTION: Blue Bell Creameries tastes traceability success »


4. Ethics and Compliance Issues

A United Nations Global Compact report found that human rights abuses and labor rights violations increase within the lower tiers of the supply chain. For instance, 18% more violations happen in the second tier of a supply chain than with direct suppliers.

This begs the question: At what point do companies’ supply chain managers evaluate and address their supply chains for violating basic human rights?

It’s important for companies to be proactive in their approach to ethics and compliance to protect their brand. When a company’s reputation is on the line, the organization must ensure their products meet high standards to safeguard the trust of customers and stakeholders alike.

While supply chain management software isn’t designed to specifically solve ethics issues, it can play a vital role in helping a company better evaluate the impact of these ethical problems if it were forced to drop one of its suppliers.

How exactly?

Through robust data collection, extraction, and information management. Companies that have to change suppliers will need to analyze the operational—and thus financial—impacts the move could have on their enterprise. That could be very difficult and time-consuming to accomplish if they’re trying to pull data manually from spreadsheets.

Having accurate, up-to-the-second data becomes crucial. Only reliable data collection tools like mobile barcoding are up to the task. No data gets lost, whether collected in the warehouse or in the field.

ALSO READ: Top 5 Supply Chain Management Challenges Facing Managers »


The Importance of Mobile Data Collection Software

Today’s supply chain world is fraught with obstacles and unforeseen challenges. Labor shortages, changing customer demand, and increasing regulations are all contributing to a need for more efficient operations.

Digital automation of supply chain processes is imperative to mitigate widespread challenges, both operational and cultural. For many, mobile supply chain technology remains a budget priority. Mobile barcoding is no exception.

The sooner companies invest in proactive solutions to solve supply chain issues, the quicker they can leave old challenges behind and move ahead of the competition.


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