Aug 12, 2020

Gartner: Eight technology trends in supply chain

Supply Chain
Digital Transformation
Sean Galea-Pace
3 min
Supply Chain Digital examines the top eight supply chain technology trends for 2020, according to Gartner.
Supply Chain Digital examines the top eight supply chain technology trends for 2020, according to Gartner...

As supply chain leaders seek to explore the benefits of digitalisation, it has become critical to introduce how to leverage innovative technologies that have the potential to disrupt supply chain operating models that provide a competitive advantage. 

“Gartner research shows that supply chain leaders perceive technology primarily as a competitive advantage — they focus on long-term value,” says Christian Titze, Vice President Analyst, Gartner. “Yet, 80% of organisations favor a cautious approach when it comes to adopting new supply chain applications and technologies.”

1. Hyperautomation

It’s a framework to combine a comprehensive offering of technologies in the best possible way, such as historic legacy platforms with recently deployed tools and planned investments. This means different things for different organisations so it’s important that supply chain leaders find their individual definition. If deployed correctly, hyperautomation can encourage broader collaboration across domains and act as an integrator for disparate and siloed functions.

2. Digital supply chain twin

It’s a digital representation of the physical supply chain and is derived from all relevant data across the supply chain and its operating environment. This forms the basis for all local and end-to-end decision-making. “DSCTs are part of the digital theme that describes an ever-increasing merger of the digital and physical worlds,” Titze says. “Linking both worlds enhances situational awareness and supports decision making.”

3. Continuous Intelligence

It is one of the biggest opportunities for supply chain leaders to accelerate their organisation’s digital transformation. It takes a computer’s ability to process data at a much faster rate than people can. Supply chain leaders can look at the processed data to understand what is happening and take immediate action.

4. Supply chain governance and security

It is an increasingly important macro trend, as global risk events rise and security breaches impact companies on a digital and physical level. “Gartner anticipates a wave of new solutions to emerge for supply chain security and governance, especially in the fields of privacy as well as cyber and data security,” Titze says. “Think advanced track-and-trace solutions, smart packaging, and next-gen RFID and NFC capabilities.”

5. Edge computing and analytics

The rise of edge computing, where data is processed and analysed close to its collection point, coincides with the acceleration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It is the technology needed when there is a demand for low-latency processing and real-time, automated decision-making. Edge computing is currently making its way in the manufacturing space. For example, there are some companies that have leveraged driverless forklifts for their warehouses and some heavy equipment sellers that can use edge computing to analyse when a part needs maintenance or replacement.

6. Artificial intelligence

AI in supply chain makes up a toolbox of technology options that allow companies to understand complex content, engage in natural dialogue with people, enhance human performance and take over routine tasks. AI currently helps supply chain leaders solve long-standing challenges around data silos and governance. Its capabilities enable more visibility and integration across networks of stakeholders that were previously remote or disparate.

7. 5G Networks

In comparison to predecessors, 5G is a major step forward in regard to data speed and processing capabilities. The nature of 5G means that the potential for supply chain is significantly increased. For example, running a 5G network in a factory can reduce latency and accelerate real-time visibility and IoT capabilities. 

8. Immersive experience

Immersive experience technology such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality has the potential to substantially change the trajectory of supply chain management. These new interaction models amplify human capabilities and organisations are already seeing the benefits in use cases, such as onboarding new workers through immersive on-the-job training in a safe, realistic virtual environment.

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Jul 31, 2021

RAIN RFID, IoT and AI are key to a proactive supply chain

Jill West, Vice President Stra...
4 min
RAIN RFID, IoT and AI are key to shifting supply chain’s technology adoption from reactive to proactive in the post-pandemic era

Across supply chains around the world, we have seen leading companies rely heavily on technologies like AI and IoT during the pandemic. These digital solutions have enabled businesses to accurately capture and ultimately use their own first-party data to drive efficiencies and protect increasingly fragile bottom lines.

However, what is less commonly known is the increasing role of RAIN RFID technology in supporting IoT solutions. By using RAIN RFID to capture item data and then feed that data into AI systems, businesses can identify inefficiencies within the supply chain and make informed decisions.

What is RAIN RFID?

In short, RAIN RFID is a powerful IoT technology that enables itemised data collection. By applying small, battery-free tags to items, organisations can identify, locate, and authenticate each of those items, scanning up to thousands of items simultaneously with a variety of devices, including hand-held, fixed and wearable readers.

RAIN RFID solutions dramatically improve the operational capabilities of an organisation by ensuring they have exactly the right items, in the right quantities, at the right locations, at the right time. During the pandemic, RAIN RFID solutions have been key to limiting disruptions in retail and manufacturing supply chains, most notably by increasing inventory and asset visibility and improving the management and flow of goods. 

Three ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns

RAIN RFID is used to streamline processes, maintain real-time inventory, increase productivity, and help manage labour shortages. We see three key ways RAIN RFID helps solve supply chain concerns:

  1. Automate shipment verification: Today, significant labour is required for multiple, manual barcode scans during the shipment process. RAIN RFID tags can be read automatically without a direct line of sight, erasing the need for workers to pause, locate a barcode, and scan it. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate their shipment verification process and improve warehouse efficiencies by up to 25%.
  2. Deliver real-time visibility: Retail Systems Research says that 76% of supply chain survey respondents reported that real-time inventory visibility was their leading focus for improving performance. When supply chain managers lack information about the status of assets and shipments moving into and out of warehouses, confidence and productivity suffer. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders gain real-time visibility into an item’s identity, usage, and location. With this information, they can quickly find inventory and assets, and reduce the cost of asset investments. 
  3. Improve order accuracy: Today, companies rely on redundant manual checks to verify that the right cartons are loaded onto the correct pallets. By using RAIN RFID, supply chain leaders can automate pallet build verification to streamline the process and increase order accuracy. In fact, a recent study by Auburn University found that RAIN RFID can help an organisation achieve up to 100% order accuracy, eliminating claims costs and unhappy customers.  

RAIN RFID can increase value of AI-powered analytics

In today’s AI-driven, rapid decision-making business environment, RAIN RFID is uniquely capable of making systems more effective. This is because it provides item identifiers for tracking and locating billions of items, from clothing to food, pharmaceuticals, tools, packages, pallets, and more.

It also works without line-of-sight, providing visibility into places and processes not previously available. The data provided by a RAIN RFID system can give AI-powered solutions the ability to see individual items throughout the supply chain, understand how the entire supply chain is functioning and identify which areas can be improved. 

As companies accelerate digital transformation, we expect to see a rise in interconnected data as investments into new technologies and IoT surge. But as the volume of real-time and accurate data about the movement of goods rises, so too do the demands on operations teams to make sound business decisions quickly and with confidence, often using AI-powered systems that thrive on improved data to make better decisions. 

As an example, over the past several years, Delta Airlines transformed its customer experience by investing in technology including real-time RAIN RFID bag tracking and automatic check-in via the Fly Delta mobile app. Delta is now leveraging this set of investments in their implementation of an AI-driven platform that analyses millions of operational data points, from luggage movement to aircraft positions to flight crew restrictions to airport conditions. This system simulates operating challenges and creates hypothetical scenarios that help Delta’s professionals make critical operational decisions that improve the overall customer experience.  

Looking forward

The need to drive digital transformation rapidly during the pandemic has made supply chain and logistics professionals increasingly tech savvy. As we prepare for a post-pandemic era, companies’ increased know-how and awareness of solutions like RAIN RFID, IoT and AI will play a key role in evolving the industry’s approach to solving supply chain issues from reactive to proactive, setting them up for future success.

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