Automation and the Supply Chain: What’s Possible Today

The global logistics automation market is expected to hit $73 billion by 2023. But companies don’t have to wait another decade to take advantage of the benefits of supply chain automation.

The increased visibility and strategic competitive insights provided by automation are simply too powerful to ignore. And with automated supply chain and logistics management systems improving at an exponential rate, companies that fall behind the curve risk losing a major competitive advantage.

Here are the innovations transforming supply chain automation in 2019.

The digital supply chain

“The digital supply chain” is an increasingly popular term that refers to the rise of supply chain automation software. Specifically, this digitization concerns streamlining communication and data collection at all points of the supply chain.

The most obvious benefit of a digital supply chain is increased visibility. With more data—combined with the analytic capabilities needed to glean actionable insights from it—digital systems can take the right actions at just the right time to get the best results. Based on a weather forecast, for example, the system might suggest rerouting certain trucks.

Digital supply chain technologies are still evolving, but many of these tools can be harnessed today. Take digitized shipment tracking. When a company digitizes shipment tracking across its global supply chain, it can automate a host of outdated, inefficient legacy systems and replace them with a central communications hub. After this centralization is accomplished, it’s a natural progression to the next stage: fully automating that communication with triggered warnings, alerts, emails, and so on.

The touchless supply chain

Another automation trend shaping supply chains in 2019 is the so-called “touchless supply chain.” This essentially involves automating as many steps in the supply chain as possible, turning manual management of these steps into the exception—not the rule.

The goal of touchless supply chain automation is to scale down repetitive tasks. This enables supply chain managers to focus on value-added tasks, like strategic decision making, forecasting, and freight negotiations.

A touchless supply chain can happen in varying degrees, from automating simple tasks like daily reporting to more complicated interactions like vendor relations. The main bottleneck for high-level automation of this type is the quality of inbound signals. Capturing real-time signals throughout the supply chain is the only way to increase performance and efficiency.

If a company wants to automate anything critical, accuracy is essential. Poor implementation of touchless supply chain automation can lead to extensive (and expensive) troubleshooting, costly errors, and more work than even the original processes caused.

However, when rolled out effectively, the cost-saving benefits can be immense, both from a labor and data-driven strategy standpoint. Touchless supply chain automation allows for faster responses, increased supply chain flexibility, streamlined management processes, better communication across multiple departments, and more.

Supply chain automation is here—and there’s more to come

The rise of quality automation tools is already impacting how companies manage their global supply chains—from production and shipping to higher level strategic decisions. There’s plenty more automation on the horizon, and in a future post, we’ll dive even deeper into the possibilities this technology offers.

In the meantime, companies can take advantage of automation today with a robust and fully integrated transportation management system (TMS).

CTSI-Global is proud to offer a leading-edge TMS solution that enables intelligent process automation, like load optimization and shipment execution improvements. Find out more by contacting us today.

Reader Interactions