How Intelligent Automation Will Revitalize Global Supply Chains In 2021

Can you inject more agility into your supply chain?

Supply chains experience challenges often due to the numerous complex and time-consuming tasks that come with managing a successful supply chain.

At a time when the business environment is unpredictable, it is essential to adapt new and quick ways of working to improve efficiencies and tackle obstacles.

Manufacturers and retail networks are, therefore, always looking for process automation options which offer great flexibility, accuracy, and high returns on investment.

According to Gartner, the next few years will usher in an increase in the adoption of supply chain technologies that you must integrate into your processes. Intelligent automation will revitalize global supply chains through new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning.

Leveraging these technologies will optimize your supply chain and ease your team’s workload.

In this article we’ll talk about 5 different ways intelligent automation will revitalize global supply chains, with the end result of building better relationships with customers and strengthening the supply chain.

Let’s get started.

1. Risk Management

There are many risks you can face as a supply chain manager, both internal and external, that lead to disruptions or losses.

Some of these include:

  • Demand risks that arise from misunderstood or unforeseen customer needs.
  • Delivery risks caused by materials flow interruptions within the supply chain
  • Production risks arising from disruptions of internal processes.

Supply chain process automation is the answer to mitigating these risks.

According to new research from Orange Business Service, 42% of the surveyed enterprises are using automation to manage risks and this will double in the next few years.

Given the concerns you may be experiencing over visibility, to transform your global supply chain network into a revenue generator, you need real-time, in-transit, and end-to-end visibility.

Supply Chain Analytics is one of the intelligent automation technologies in supply chain management that is expected to grow this year. It provides relevant and trusted data using visualization in the form of charts and graphs.

This way, you can identify and predict risks in supply chain disruptions, ultimately helping you make data-driven decisions.

Shell is bolstering risk management to protect its global supply chain from criminal activities with AI-automated technology from Ripjar. AI-enhanced technology reduces steps to conduct due diligence and detect risks through continuous real-time monitoring of the supply chain.

2. Warehouse Management

Besides receiving and transferring goods, some of the tenets involved in warehouse management include inventory control and storage allocation.

However, these underlying processes are dynamic and complex, presenting significant challenges to warehouse managers across the global supply chain industry.

Due to the manual nature of warehousing, employees have to handle multiple products several times, making this a redundant and time-consuming process.

Another challenge you may experience is the seasonality of demand which brings about information gaps in the warehouse leading to uncontrolled inventory. You may find that you are over or under stocked, making your operations inefficient.

According to a study by Logility 36% of the respondents identify the opportunity to optimize their inventory to balance supply and demand as a top driver for their analytics initiative.

Using AI, supply chain analytics presents an optimal solution to warehouse management by considering your customer requirements, machine capacity, labor, and material needs.

Automated technology, such as barcode scanners that use computer vision, can streamline the warehousing process in supply chain management, eliminating redundant processes and maximizing resource utilization.

MilliporeSigma has a large product portfolio. Previously, it needed better global visibility to improve customer service levels and optimize inventory. Logility enabled them to leverage time-phased inventory policies to achieve their desired service levels.

3. Order Fulfillment

Manufacturers are often overwhelmed with the amount of goods they have to receive from different suppliers, as well as deliver their finished products to various customers across the globe.

In addition to that, employees also spend a lot of time packing trucks, planning the most efficient routes, reporting transit status to customers, and connecting truckers to the right supply chain.

Supply chain process automation can enable you to reach new productivity heights.

It can help you streamline the entire delivery process, therefore cutting down on delivery costs and fulfilling customer needs.

According to research by eAlchemy, 24.7% of supply chain managers report delivery costs as one of their biggest challenges. Intelligent automation in supply chain technology can enhance in-transit visibility significantly. 

With the use of cloud-based GPS you can track a product as it moves from point to point.

This is useful in predicting the exact time of shipping and delivery. Use of real-time sensor data and environmental data allows for most precise predictions thereby raising overall productivity standards.

Whiplash helped an online fashion retailer achieve flexibility in managing a growing customer base and preventing margin delays. Through intelligent automation, Whiplash designed a complex distribution operation enabling the fashion brand to scale its operations.

4. Data Management

Supply chain networks have a lot of data flowing in from different channels like social media and retail apps that are crucial to meeting customer demands.

However, the amount of data can be overwhelming and complex to understand.

In addition to that, back-office processes contain various manual tasks like storing and processing documents which are time-consuming. They, therefore, prevent you from achieving operational excellence.

AI and machine learning are some of the excellent technologies you can leverage for intelligent automation in supply chain management through Content Intelligence Solutions.

Machine learning algorithms gather incredible volumes of data while identifying patterns that may not be visible to the human eye. This way, machine learning creates accurate demand forecasts and demand-capacity planning for better performance.

A survey by Logility reveals that 19% of respondents say they want to leverage machine learning to improve their company’s forecast accuracy

On the other hand, cloud technology has great storage capacities that allow you to store and protect large volumes of data.

Carlstar Group was facing the challenge of unreliable data from outdated systems in the sales and IT departments. However, with Logility, they were able to improve their visibility by consolidating data across three disparate systems, ultimately enhancing their sales performance.

5. Contract Management

Before getting into a deal with another business, it is essential to draft and sign a legal contract that stipulates your terms of engagement.

According to the International Labour Organization Global Survey, 65% of supply chain enterprises have written contracts with their customers.

However, what many supply managers don’t realize is that whatever goes into a contract determines the outcome of the business.

While you may look at the similarities and differences within a contract, what may go unnoticed is the language variation due to different customs, intents, or preferences by the contracting parties.

Intelligent automation will revitalise the globe in supply chain by enabling you to critically analyze contracts through an AI-powered contract management software.

An automated Contract Analysis software captures every step of your contract lifecycle. This in turn eliminates misconceptions, reveals possible challenges through predictive analytics, and suggests the best solutions. When you have a clear understanding of these processes with a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) tool, the fun in supply chain process automation begins.

The system’s AI obtains and reports totals on documents and can even assist with text and data extraction to analyze if there are any possible threats.

A study was conducted to verify how formal contracts affect relationships between two signing parties. By creating a basic framework to guide their research, they considered two premises and eleven parameters in the companies in question. Findings pointed out to the fact that there were particular biases on both sides.

Conclusion

Intelligent automation is here to stay.

It is the catalyst of growth and efficiency in global supply chains.

Through intelligent automation, you can build a scalable, flexible, agile, and responsive supply chain network. According to Deloitte, the intelligent automation sector is expanding at a compound average growth rate of 40.6% per year.

Having gone through ways in which intelligent automation will revitalize global supply chains and it’s uses in supply chain process automation, I hope you are now ready to incorporate intelligent automation into your workflows for improved efficiency.

Read more: Step by step instructions to compose an intelligent paper

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