What is Smart Supply Chain Management?

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The supply chain disruptions of the past few years have forced businesses to rapidly adapt innovative digital logistics solutions to keep up with customer demands and establish strong supply chain resilience. Developing a smart supply chain is necessary for businesses looking to remain competitive in an increasingly digitised global economy. Logistics 4.0 responds to the digital transformation in modern supply chain management. 

Smart supply chain solutions established by Logistics 4.0 include sophisticated AI powered data analytics, drones, automated transport vehicles and other innovative technologies. With the logistics industry scoring 32/100 on the McKinsey scale, a metric that measures industry digitisation, this is the best time to implement digitised supply chain strategies for businesses that want to get ahead of the curve. 

Introducing Logistics 4.0

Logistics 4.0 focuses on developing new, innovative technologies to automate and optimise material flows and resource use in inbound and outbound logistics. It is inextricably tied to Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution which has been a major talking point in recent years. 

Industry 4.0 prioritises digitisation and has networking, decentralisation, real-time capability and service orientation as its central goals. Businesses looking to integrate these digitalisation technologies into their practices must first have a strong logistics foundation to optimally face the future challenges of the supply chain industry. By implementing smart supply chain strategies and digitising logistics management, organisations can move towards full automation which will maximise resource economy and increase productivity. 

How is supply chain management supported by Industry 4.0?

1.  Using advanced analytics to make more informed decisions

Manual data collection is tedious and time consuming with a large margin for human error. Advanced analytics  that employ AI and machine learning algorithms can consolidate data from customers, suppliers and global trends to help businesses make economic decisions. A machine learning algorithm applied to a social media platform can help you gain an understanding of your customers based on the purchases they do (and don’t) make as well as the brands they follow and ads they like. Gathering multiple data points from customers means your organisation can develop and advertise products that the customer wants to purchase, based on their browsing patterns and purchase history thus increasing your profits and time-efficiency. 

2.  Automating processes with drones and robots

Warehousing involves a significant amount of physical labour for repetitive tasks. With technological solutions like smart picking robots, drones, shuttles, automatic guided vehicles and cobots (robots that work alongside human workers), businesses can develop smart warehousing solutions that maximise both profits and productivity.

In industry auditing, for example, drones can be used to automatically take stock and search for lost items. This frees up your human workforce to perform tasks that cannot be digitised, leading to a more efficient workplace. 

3. Greater connectivity with Internet of Things (IoT)

In smart supply chain management, IoT devices can help organisations collect data in real-time from various warehouses, cutting out middle-man miscommunications and delays. Technologies like RFID sensors can tag products to increase trackability, minimising misplacements when shelving, moving and dispatching products.

Smart shelves are another part of the digital revolution. These shelves alert managers when parcels are added or removed by tracking changes in weight. IoT solutions can work together to consolidate warehouse data into one system, allowing for greater transparency in your warehouse. 

How does smart supply chain management help businesses? 

Smart supply chain technologies mean businesses can achieve greater transparency, reduce errors and save time across all areas. Advanced analytic technologies mean businesses can achieve a greater understanding of their customers and provide a service that serves both parties' needs. 

Digital solutions can lead to greater safety for human workers. With heavy lifting, fatigue, distraction and stress can all put workers at risk. If machines like robots and drones can perform these tasks, managers have assurance that the task is performed well to high safety standards. 

There are numerous benefits to smart supply chain solutions at the macro and micro levels. By embracing the digital revolution in logistics and supply chain management, your business can optimise resources and remain competitive in the modern economy.

DHL Express’ digital solutions 

The digital revolution has transformed how DHL Express operates. To modernise, DHL Express has implemented technologies that support our employees and clients to optimise their experience and efficiency. Our organisation implements smart shipping solutions to enhance our performance at all levels. 

Alongside internal optimisation, DHL Express offers modern logistics solutions to our customers. Our DHLBots, AGVs, On-Demand Delivery (ODD) portals and chatbots ensure clients experience this service at a premium level. The DHLBot for example, is an AI-powered robotics arm that complements the manual sorting process. Autonomous mobile robots, equipped with sensors and AI-powered avoidance systems, provide on-demand deliveries – allowing shipments to be promptly delivered.

If your business prioritises modernisation and innovation, partner with DHL Express. DHL Express is the partner of choice for businesses all over the world. Sign up for a DHL Express account today and join our global client base of successful businesses.