Where would any of our industries be without the technology we have today? As technology use grows and develops, as do our industries, reaping the benefits of others' innovative ideas.
As mobile phones took off, their use in the supply chain skyrocketed. Now, we have a second technological wave coming—the internet of things. While both technological waves enhance supply chain management, one is always a bit better than the other.
The Rise of Mobile Phones in Supply Chain Management
Mobile phones made a splash in supply chain management largely because of the apps they provided and the fact that work could now be done remotely. Thanks to companies like Apple and Google who initiated the explosion of apps, running a supply chain has gotten a lot easier. According to a survey conducted by market research firm ARC Advisory Group, "smartphones are the most widely used mobile device in supply chain and logistics operations."
Various supply chain mobility devices have made it easier for managers and supervisors to track assets and shipments, conduct transactions, execute processes, and collaborate with third parties. Utilizing these tools improves the functionality of supply chains, productivity, and efficiency. Furthermore, users of mobile apps can also access reports and dashboards, helping them plan accordingly.
Asset tracking has been a huge benefit to using mobile phones in the supply chain. Echo Global Logistics recently launched EchoTrak Mobile, an app for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. This app lets users track shipments, get rate quotes, and receive notifications about their shipments. Information that was only accessible through the EchoTrak online portal is now more easily found. The mobile app has had great success with nearly 2,000 of EchoTrak's 24,000 users downloading it within the first week of its release.
Inventory also benefits from mobile phone use. Scandit is a supply chain app that's useful for managers with hectic schedules. This app can turn any phone, Android, or IOS into an advanced barcode scanner. Regular barcode scanners usually require the scan to be perfect or else it won't process the code. However, Scandit is the opposite. The scan doesn't need to be perfect to process the data, which makes Scandit ideal to use for hard to reach barcodes three shelves up.
As the above examples show, mobile apps enhance the supply chain by making everyday tasks easier. Tasks also get accomplished faster, making the regular employee more efficient.
The Wave of IoT
When it comes to technology, the second version is usually better. The product has often received an upgrade, is faster than the first one, and offers more services. This is why the IoT is better—because it's second.
The IoT connects machines together, allowing them to communicate by transmitting the data they've individually collected. This information sharing creates "smart" machines or objects that can adjust variables accordingly. While mobile apps gather data, they can't physically react to it. An employee needs to interpret that data and then act with this new information in mind. However, the IoT creates a proactive supply chain rather than a reactive one. If sensors detect a rise in temperature when the space needs to be cool, fans can kick on if they too are equipped with sensors. Basically, the IoT takes mobile apps one step further by being able to react to the data they gather.
Industries have benefited immensely from IoT in supply chain and the innovative technology that we now have access to. This technology has allowed our supply chains to increase productivity, improve processes, reduce costs, and track inventory—all with only our mobile devices. Now, as technology evolves, our supply chains will become even more streamlined and efficient thanks to the IoT.
Watch our recorded webinar on reducing supply chain costs below: