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Opportunities abound for supply chain innovation

April 27, 2020

Opportunities abound for supply chain innovation
For decades, supply chain technology has played an essential role in our ability as humans to create and distribute the components and finished products that allow us to thrive. Today, the supply chain is even more critical, as are the data capture technologies and services that support it.

Understanding your customer’s type of operation will give you a clear direction for the data capture solutions you might need to implement and support. Data collection requirements will vary depending on the customer, but, generally speaking, there are a few different types of supply chain operations. Some are focused on manufacturing, while others are focused on assembly. Others might be structured to service, repair, or reuse products. At the same time, these operations can be designed for low environmental impact or based on Six Sigma principles that yield standardization, consistency, higher quality and lower costs due to added efficiencies.

Unfortunately, since every operation is unique, there’s no single way to address the needs of all your customers. This isn’t bad news; it just means you’ll need to act as a true trusted advisor to thoroughly understand the challenges your customers face and then use creativity and the host of data capture technologies available.

Apart from traditional barcode, RFID, and warehouse management solutions, there are opportunities to innovate with new types of labels and media while offering complementary technologies and services. Here’s a checklist we created to help you uncover opportunities.

In addition to what we’ve already mentioned, there are a host of trends today that are profoundly impacting supply chain IT.

  • Blockchain—this technology provides organizations with a tamper-proof decentralized database that can be used in a variety of ways to innovate. One primary use, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, is to reduce the spread of counterfeit drugs. There are also powerful parts tracking applications in the automotive industry, a market that’s continuously seeking efficiency gains.
  • Real-time tracking and IoT—supply chains extend to the end customers’ door, so the ability to track not only the components that make a finished product, but the finished product itself, is critical. Using a combination of RFID, barcodes, sensors and geolocation solutions can give every stakeholder in the supply chain real-time visibility and access to valuable insights.
  • Big data—RFID and even barcode solutions can yield a lot of data. Blockchain, real-time tracking solutions and IoT even more so. Big data solutions exist to help organizations corral and then make decisions using the mountains of actionable data available.
  • Robotics—many organizations are reaching new levels of production and efficiency by leveraging robotics. While robotics have been used in manufacturing for decades, there’s been a heightened interest in robots that aid in the picking of parts to reduce errors and speed up production.
Clearly, there are many great opportunities to help your customers improve the efficiency of their supply chains. If you’d like more information on how to implement any of the solutions discussed here, contact Bruce Smith, Ingram Micro’s data capture expert.