IoT and Cloud Technologies: The Key to Supply Chain Automation

IoT and Cloud Technologies: The Key to Supply Chain Automation
IoT and Cloud Technologies: The Key to Supply Chain Automation

Enterprises are moving toward autonomous, self-driving and self-healing supply chains, similar to how consumers are moving to driver-less, self-diagnosing, self-maintained cars. There’s much talk in the industry about how the transformation of supply chains is poised to create renewed service levels, customer expectations, but most importantly, a better working life for the human capital involved in supply chain orchestration.
Therefore, the burning question on the mind of every business executive and supply chain professional is how organizations can jump on the bandwagon ahead of their competition. And the answer lies in understanding what supply chain automation can really do for enterprises and leveraging the right mix of emerging IoT and cloud technologies.

Importance of supply chain automation 

In today's world, managing a successful and efficient supply chain is no easy task. Supply chain risk has grown exponentially with the rapid changes in customer needs and industry demand, and it is now becoming essential for businesses to adopt more agile and innovative approaches. Supply chain volatility is also the new normal, with increased risk from external threats such as environmental conditions, time, theft, tampering and information system breaches.
When supply chain operations are automated and visibility is improved, businesses can achieve greater efficiency in their operations by eliminating decision-lag and human error. This can result in reduced costs, faster lead times and better customer satisfaction. It can also save hours of unproductive work for industry professionals, enabling the development of human capital and a better work environment.

Why IoT and cloud technologies are the keys to automation

As global businesses continue to evolve, automate and digitize their supply chain, there is a growing need to understand how to best use emerging technology to streamline operations, maximize profits and minimize risk. IoT and cloud technologies provide organizations with the tools to achieve these goals and more through increased supply chain automation.
The first step to mitigating risks is identifying and analyzing them through transparent, detailed data collection and intelligent IoT-enabled monitoring systems. To automate supply chain operations, it's important to have real-time visibility into inventory status, shipments and other key data points. Without this visibility, it's difficult to automate processes such as order fulfillment, inventory management or transportation planning.
The internet of things (IoT) offers businesses unprecedented visibility into their supply chain processes and the ability to proactively manage and mitigate risk. IoT devices such as GPS sensors, barcode scanners and RFID tags collect, store and transmit real-time data throughout the supply chain.
Cloud technology provides companies access to a range of digital services, including data analytics and predictive modeling, which can be used to develop risk-avoidance strategies and prevent supply chain disruptions. Moreover, cloud services enable companies to connect with other partners, suppliers and customers in real time, enabling faster decision-making and problem-solving.
When combined, IoT and cloud technologies enable supply chain actors to have real-time visibility into their operations, make data-driven decisions and optimize their supply chain. With a single source of information shared among all stakeholders, businesses can reduce the risk of errors or delays caused by manual processes. This can result in greater accuracy and reliability of data, which builds the confidence to automate chain processes one by one.

IoT and cloud technologies benefits

Getting high-quality data in real time—in short, finding out what's going on so you can take the right actions—is the key to improving supply chain management with IoT and cloud. Many companies aspiring to Industry 4.0 operations are discovering that they lack the necessary data about their shipments and assets—or that the data they collect arrives too late to be useful.
GPS vehicle tracking, RFID solutions and temperature data loggers can help ensure timely delivery and quality of shipped assets, but inject data insights, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) into real-time basic location and condition data is critical to identify and predict obstacles reliably and accurately. Confidence to automate only arises when predictions and signals powering automation can be trusted upon every single time.
For example, we built Roambee's AI-powered platform that’s differentiated by its ability to affirmatively guide any company to deliver the right product at the precise time, in the correct place, and in ideal condition, using sensor data analytics. Most supply chain software such as carrier-aggregated telematics platforms, supply chain planning tools and tracking and monitoring solutions lacked direct-from-source, timely, or actionable data to orchestrate supply chains three-dimensionally around On-Time, In-Full (OTIF), product quality and transparent chain-of-custody–a critical unsolved piece for Fortune Global 500 firms to confidently automate their supply chain planning and execution.
With an engine that offers reliable recommendations and signals, deploying automation and advanced analytics can modernize supply chain processes, resulting in greater efficiencies and cost savings. Automating routine tasks such as stock replenishment and order tracking allows companies to reduce the risk of supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies, while freeing up human capital to focus on more important matters. Advanced analytics provide further insights into consumer preferences and trends, allowing companies to tailor their services and optimize supply chain performance.
Visibility and automation can also drive a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. Enterprises can assess Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in the supply chain and optimize them effectively. Automation, if done efficiently, can ensure carbon emissions targets are maintained month-to- month. Together, visibility and automation can lead to carbon neutral or carbon negative goals, including monetary savings through credits and lesser taxes.

In summary

IoT and cloud technologies can benefit businesses across various industries and can provide a competitive advantage to companies, regardless of size or industry. The potential for the IoT and cloud technologies in the supply chain is tremendous and is paving the way for a new, smarter, sustainable and more reliable era for the industry. Thanks to the combination of IoT and cloud technologies, enterprises are now able to upgrade their current systems and existing solutions with ease to reduce business risk and promote a more automated supply chain.

About The Author

Sanjay Sharma is a strategic thought leader with two decades of entrepreneurial experience building technology startups from the ground up. As CEO of Roambee, he is responsible for leading the company’s vision, driving its worldwide business growth and increasing the company’s value. Sanjay has successfully co-founded and led two successful Silicon Valley B2B technology venture-backed startups with successful exits - KeyTone Technologies, which was acquired by Global Asset Tracking Ltd and Plexus Technologies, which became an ICICI Ventures portfolio company. He has also been a part of the engineering teams at EMC, Schlumberger and NASA.

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