The use of mobile devices in the global supply chain is growing in popularity every day. MarketWatch recently published the results of a Research and Markets survey finding the global mobile supply chain solutions market is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 13.4% between 2014 and 2020.
During the period discussed in the survey, the Asia Pacific region expects to see significant advances in mobile supply chain technologies. North America and Europe are currently the largest markets for mobile supply chain solutions but growth in Indian, Chinese and Japanese manufacturing and retail should drive demand for better supply chain solutions in those countries.
In 2014, the industry was valued at $7-billion and that figure should consistently increase over the next five years. Warehouse and transportation management systems have shown the most recent interest in mobile software due to a need for flexibility and unpredictable fuel prices. WMS and TMS are projected to lead the growth through 2020. Retail, manufacturing, banking, energy, healthcare and telecommunication companies are all expected to embrace mobile supply chain solutions in the near future, with retail and manufacturing leading the pack.
The use of mobile devices in the industry is just another sign of an increasingly mobile world. TechTarget credited the growth of mobile supply chain solutions to the proliferation of handheld computing devices in the consumer market.
Warehouse workers and delivery drivers prefer working with equipment and software similar to the kinds they use in their personal lives. Tablets are fast replacing laptops as the preferred office computing device and workers want to message management on the same phone they use to communicate with all of their contacts.
The increased adoption of mobile devices has improved the capabilities of business solutions. There used to be only a few options for inventory automated data collection options for inventory management, but now warehouse workers can report item location and movement using phones, tablets, barcode scanners and voice technology options. Employees can use the mobile device of their choice if the company works with the right software partner.
RFgen Software provides enterprise mobility software solutions that provide validated connectivity to multiple types of ERP systems including JD Edwards and SAP. In a white paper published titled "Adopting Enterprise Mobility in the Supply Chain," RFgen discusses how companies can move their supply chain operations from paper-based processes to barcode scanners, tablets and/or other mobile devices.
Mobile worker performance becomes part of the overall company infrastructure when their daily activities are shared with all software users. Decisions are made and projects are planned with complete supply chain visibility.
Industry Week detailed how inventory workers armed with handheld mobile data collection devices give managers and supervisors direct insight into storage and shipping dock performance. Incoming materials are verified against purchase order requirements. Workers sort and store items while referencing updated shelving layout mobile forms. Shelving is completed in tandem with location reporting so all inventory is accounted for.
Additional technology like voice picking solutions allows workers to perform inventory tasks and data collection easily. Hands-free procedures are safer and allow employees to focus on the job at hand while still updating all software users with the latest details from the supply chain.
When it comes time to ship goods, mobile data collection ensures that account managers, sales reps and customer service agents can see when an order left the warehouse and how the journey to the client is proceeding. A mobile warehouse management system makes inventory movement a working part of the company's information procedures.
Mobile supply chain solutions should be implemented with overall company performance in mind. Businesses that are interested in upgrading the mobile performance of their warehouse management systems have to audit their current technology capabilities. Once the managers have decided how they would like to improve operations to keep up with the modern mobile world, they need to contact a software partner with experience in their industry and can provide a mobile solution that integrates with a larger ERP system.
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