Supply chain technology trends to watch


The supply chain is today an opportunity, a service, an asset, even a competitive advantage.

Companies differentiate themselves by providing transportation products and avoiding barriers in the supply chain. The opportunities in the cold chain are particularly massive. In the USA, between 30% and 40% of the country’s food is wasted in the supply chain.

Not to mention the possibility of reducing our carbon footprint; around 6-8% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stopped wasting food. In the United States alone, the production of lost or wasted food generates the equivalent of 32.6 million cars of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the Internet of Things (IoT) space, the ability of connected edge devices to support and advance applications such as track and trace, cold chain monitoring, actuator triggering and energy management is well known. Large-scale deployments of these applications have been limited to side projects by major IoT players.

In 2022, expect the following technology areas to become more pervasive in supply chain management:

IoT at the heart of business decisions
IoT is a popular term for Internet-connected devices that carry data. It’s a wide and accelerating world — a forecast suggests that there will be more than 75 billion IoT-connected devices in use by 2025. That would be a threefold increase from 2019. The IoT market is expected to be worth $4 trillion dollars by the same period.

The average person’s list of IoT devices ranges from cellphones to smartwatches to smart devices. For those of us who work in the field of supply chain management, and in particular cold chain management, there is one element of IoT technology that will reign supreme: labels. smart.

These IoT-connected devices can be connected to products from the point of manufacture to the final consumer destination. Along the way, they collect data and bring it together in one place. Think of an item’s journey through the supply chain as digital art: the data provided by smart labels serves as thousands and millions of pixels that, when put together, paint a bigger picture.

The impact of this “big picture” is especially strong when viewed through the prism of the problems we have all experienced in recent years. Knowing what happens as items move through the supply chain brings business decisions closer to products.

Supply chain management professionals can act on what is happening in the supply chain environment as it happens. This is crucial – smart labels enable decision making as and when decisions need to be made.

The eruption of IoT devices at the edge will require batteries that can withstand the rigorous demands of the cold chain environment to power smart tags. Technology that can remain resilient and accurate through low temperatures, humidity and humidity will be vital. As IoT devices connect us digitally, the technology that enables those connections and manages the devices will be key.

Move from the cloud to the edge
Edge platforms along with virtualization technologies such as virtual machines and containers enable application portability between hardware vendors. This move will likely see the emergence of gateway vendors as well as more powerful edge devices capable of performing lightweight machine learning. Cloud providers certainly won’t give up on their extreme push with real-time operating systems and runtimes enabled on devices, including cellular smart tags and wearables.

Advances in AI
As the data provided by the IoT forms pixels that make up a larger picture, these pixels must be organized to make sense. Another technology trend in the supply chain for 2022 is the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI solutions used in the supply chain are another tool that informs decision-making. It can be used to predict future supply chain data based on past history gleaned from IoT data pixels.

A refined and transparent supply chain is the result of the collaboration between IoT and AI. AI-based algorithms and platforms tighten up upstream and downstream operations for a smooth flow without wasting time. Together, AI and IoT solutions form a partnership based on using models to predict problems and provide solutions.

Demand planning and digital twins are a pair of AI technology solutions you should watch in 2022. Both solutions will be accelerated by increased data availability and cloud environments managing large fleets of edge devices.

Automation accordingly
The third and final trend to watch is automation. Just as advances in AI being a natural progression from the data provided by the IoT, automation is the result of collaboration between data and AI.

Replacing repetitive and time-consuming activities with automation has been an ongoing process for years. It’s not new. What is new in automation and supply chain, however, is the role of automation in transportation.

Transportation automation will make data-savvy supply chain professionals extremely valuable. Automation can happen at a faster rate when industry professionals take the data and implement AI platforms to make decisions. The result is stunning. A McKinsey & Company study found that 61% of executives who introduced AI into their supply chains reported decreased costs and more than 50% reported increased revenue. More than 33% of respondents reported revenue increases greater than 5%.

Why are these trends important?
As supply chain becomes more of a priority for companies across industries, executives are discovering what we industry professionals have known all along: it offers great opportunities to impact bottom lines. .

The path of IoT-connected devices powering AI platforms and automation to arm decision-making is entrenched. As the old saying goes:

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

These technological trends allow us to do both.


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