It’s no secret that supply chain technologies are constantly evolving. The growing digitization has made it faster and easier to improve as well as automate distribution and related operations.
Hardware suppliers looking to improve productivity and delight customers can benefit from implementing innovative technologies and consequently transform their supply chain operations.
Distribution of industrial hardware supplies can be complex. Hence, many industrial hardware suppliers are embracing cutting-edge supply chain technologies to effectively organize and streamline their processes, including distribution.
If you’re serious about enhancing performance and output at every step of the supply chain process, you should consider adopting the following technologies.
Internet of Things
Thanks to its ability of improving processes, Internet of Things (IoT) is making a solid impact across industries. Supply chain and distribution is no exception. So, it comes as no surprise that the IoT market is estimated to grow by 24.9% by 2027.
By linking several different aspects of distribution, IoT makes it easier to gain insights and manage the supply chain. Industrial hardware distributors can certainly benefit by investing in IoT deployments, while taking advantage of enhanced processes, asset management, freight monitoring, and fleet management.
For instance, they can receive alerts to safeguard goods that are likely to get damaged before reaching customers by rerouting packages to the nearest distribution centers.
This technology can go a long way in preventing waste, mishaps, and misplacements, thereby minimizing the scope of losing revenue resulting from logistical errors. Streamlined processes, in turn, allow manufacturers and distributors to generate higher revenue and better outcomes.
In other words, the implementation of IoT technologies can mean better decision-making as it allows you to detect patterns and anticipate trouble before it strikes. IoT shows what’s working and what isn’t, and how processes can be made more efficient. Having this information can mean the difference between gaining and losing competitive edge.
The main function of blockchain is to validate, record, and encrypt transactions. It was created to replace sluggish, manual processes, and promote visibility, transparency and traceability. These features make it easy for industrial hardware distributors to address supply chain issues, such as tracing the proprietorship of goods.
Blockchain is considered extremely secure as this technology uses encryption to ensure immediate transactions. It creates an undeniable record of transactions, and can track the origin of goods, while establishing trust in shared supplier data.
For industrial hardware suppliers, this technology can create an audit trail that’s more effective than traditional methods such as email or basic electronic record-keeping devices. Because of this, blockchain can be extremely helpful in facilitating track-and-trace applications that can help distributors determine the trail of custody of goods.
All in all, blockchain can help avoid leakage, identify phony items and fraud, locate at-risk suppliers, ensure adherence to regulatory compliance, and make the sourcing process highly transparent.
Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing
AI and cloud computing have revolutionized the way supply chains work and this is expected to continue in future. Supply chains are constantly generating big data. This is where cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes into the picture. It helps by turning complex and unstructured data into valuable insights.
Technologies like the cloud computing and predictive analysis are already being used to gain insights from past market trends. They aid with the following:
- Driving process automation
- Enabling supplier selection
- Streamlining supplier onboarding
- Automating supplier management
- Enhancing customer support
- Evaluating carrier performance
- Generating real-time shipments-related information
- Anticipating operational hiccups
Industrial hardware distributors and suppliers can look forward to boosted customer experiences, reduced costs, and optimized inventory visibility as well as sourcing. The fact is, supply chain management needs high-quality data to present a reliable bigger picture. Analytics can be a great way to harness technological factors that help devise insightful tactics and derive desirable outcomes.
Robotics and Automation
Supply chain operations are already leveraging robots to perform low-value and potentially high-risk tasks. In modern day logistics, robotic technology applications have been extended to automated vehicles like drones, trucks and trains, last-mile deliveries, and storage as well as retrieval systems.
Autonomous robots can bring about successful supply chain outcomes in terms of:
- Delivery robots: These can help bring down labor costs and eliminate the need of having humans perform hazardous tasks, thereby reducing risks and safety-related costs.
- Automated trucking: Self-driving vehicles can ensure the safe and quick transportation of materials and products.
- Sorters: These robots use vision technology to recognize materials and then categorize them quickly and systematically.
- Automated storage and retrieval: These are robot-based systems that can move inventory for storage or use as and when needed.
Digital Supply Chain Twin
The digital supply chain twin (DSCT) is a digital version of the physical supply chain. It equips industrial hardware suppliers with all the important information related to the supply chain and its operating environment. Hence, it is crucial to any decision-making.
The DSCT can be used to:
- Understand supply chain operations
- Identify obstacles and inefficient processes, and discover bottlenecks in the supply chain
- Test new scenarios and developments in the supply chain
- Facilitate risk management and monitoring, and plan possible contingencies
- Optimize inventory
- Plan transportation/movement
From being a perplexing back-office function to becoming a strategic driver of business growth, the supply chain has come a long way. Forward-looking industrial hardware suppliers and distributors agree that technological advancements and innovative practices are making supply chains increasingly agile and efficient.
However, internationally dispersed supply chains can pose challenges of their own. With that in mind, industrial hardware distributors need to invest in modern technologies to navigate the complex supply chain landscape and adapt quickly. The ones mentioned above are great places to start.Infographic created by Nanonets
Author Bio: I am Randy Gonzales. I am the President of Elite Sales Inc, a rigging equipment and wire rope distribution company based in Miami, Tampa, Houston, and Dyer. I have more than 30 years of experience in the distribution and supply of industrial hardware industry.