Supply Chain 2020 Vision – Part 1: Data and AI

Dec 30 17:45 2019 Brian Burell Print This Article

As the processes of data collection, management, and analysis have become more critical for organizations, they consistently seek out new solutions to make sense of the massive amounts of data.  Read the blog to understand what will be the Supply Chain Management's vision for 2020.

Supply chain managers’ minds are presently occupied by the Peak Season rush,Guest Posting but discerning industry leaders are looking forward to 2020 and the trends expected to shake up operations. From factories to warehouses to delivery trucks, new and evolving systems incorporating technology will transform supply chains to become more efficient and effective in meeting the needs of customers and companies alike. Katalyst Technologies reached out to experts to get the inside track on what’s in store for supply chain management processes in 2020 and beyond. This three-part series will provide insight that will help you prepare for the new year.

Data Reigns Supreme

As the processes of data collection, management, and analysis have become more critical for organizations, they have also become much more complicated. Companies must consistently seek out new solutions if they hope to make sense of the massive amounts of data.  

“Many supply chains have an abundance of data and don’t really know how to even look at it and how to use it,” says Stephen Hopper, founder of Atlanta-based Inviscid Consulting. In recent decades, companies had the foresight to track data but seemed uncertain on how to actually utilize it. Once they realized the value of what they had acquired, it was an overwhelming mass of information overload. “You can’t boil the ocean,” Hopper says. “There’s just too much data out there that you can’t use it all. You’ve really got to figure out what the most effective data points are.”

One method that is catching traction is blockchain technology, which consolidates data to allow for more reliable, accurate, and up-to-date information. Each chain in this decentralized process is connected—modifying one link will alter every single one thereafter, making it essentially impossible to corrupt data without detection. Because of this, organizations are increasingly turning to blockchain, and the benefits to SCM are abundantly clear.

“It’s almost like a spreadsheet,” says Davielle Panzullo, Senior Logistics Manager at Verizon Wireless. “Everyone has a copy of that spreadsheet, and then once one person updates it, everybody’s copy of it gets updated. What that does is, when you’re running a report, you’re always going to have current data. No matter how often you run it, you’re going to have consistent data.”

The Rise of AI

Managing a supply chain is challenging no matter what, but companies not taking advantage of technology and machine learning will find it impossible to keep up with consumer demand. How to best utilize AI varies from organization to organization, but it can be invaluable in interpreting data and also in establishing more efficient warehouse practices.

“There’s a big movement in robotics,” says Lynn Smith, Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Katalyst Technologies. He expects to see an increase in Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) usage, such as the Kiva robots that Amazon has employed for several years now in some of their warehouses. “We’re doing a lot of work with companies using palletizers, things that actually replace labor force, so you’ll use palletizers to unload trucks. They don’t get tired, they never take breaks, they just work.”

Panzullo echoes the practical benefits of these robots, and also points out how their consistency allows for better operations across the entire supply chain. “Instead of picking 100 pieces per day, they’re picking 1000 pieces per hour,” she notes. “They’ve really changed the process and changed productivity. Having that just makes it so much easier to forecast.”

“There’s no doubt that technology has advanced tremendously to make it easily implementable,” adds Hopper. “It’s just that companies have dragged their feet in adopting those kinds of things, but in the last year I’ve started to see that increase. So I think the adoption level of some of those kinds of technologies is going to continue to increase pretty rapidly if economically everything stays on track.”
Coming Up

In our next entry, experts discuss how shifting global economies will have an imminent impact on supply chains and share insight on how to modify warehouse strategies. Can’t wait? Contact Katalyst Technologies to discuss how your organization can best move forward. Our own experts will guide you with individualized feedback and resources to help your business meet its needs.

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Brian Burell
Brian Burell

Katalyst Technologies is a leading IT services and solutions company servicing clients in the manufacturing, wholesale distribution, life sciences, e-commerce, logistics, and retail sectors. We provide industry – specific IT products, strategies and solutions for companies implementing large-scale and transformational projects.

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