What is supply chain automation?

Automation, broadly speaking, has been one of the most impactful areas of innovation of the past century. In global supply chains, it has had a monumental impact on efficiency and cost-effectiveness, resulting in higher profit margins and cheaper prices.

What exactly is supply chain automation though? If you’ve heard the term but aren’t yet familiar with what it is exactly, then you’ve come to the right place – read on for a quick look at the ins and outs.

Reducing labour-intensive roles

Historically, supply chains have been highly labour-intensive. The main purpose of supply chain automation is pretty self-descriptive – to automate as many of these processes as possible, making them safer, cheaper and more efficient.

The kinds of roles that are often eliminated as a result of automation are often dangerous and repetitive in nature – not the kinds of jobs that people typically enjoy doing.

This not only improves the experienced quality of work environments, but it also makes them safer and less physically taxing for those who remain to guide and manage these systems.

How is this carried out?

Supply chain automation is implemented in a number of ways, generally using a range of advanced technologies.

Robotics

In manufacturing and packing, advances in robotics have had a huge impact on supply chain automation. Robots are now used to carry out a range of roles in these environments, from painting new cars to finding packages and placing them on loading pallets.

As robotics technologies become increasingly advanced, we can expect automation to enter more and more areas of the supply chain.

Automated loading solutions

Automated loading solutions play an integral part in the overall process of supply chain automation.

Solutions designed by companies such as Joloda Hyrdraroll are able to massively speed up loading processes in most warehouse environments, while simultaneously effectively eliminating the need for human operators.

As a result of the decreased reliance on human labour, combined with other robotics technologies, these solutions can massively increase profit margins and result in a speedy ROI.

AI-powered management systems

While robots and conveyor belts have had a massive impact on the more physical aspects of supply chain automation, artificial intelligence (AI) powered management systems and data-analysis tools are also starting to have an impact.

From making predictions in order to avoid potential bottlenecks to planning the routes that delivery lorries will take, these technologies are often able to make decisions much faster than their human counterparts, often based on far larger and more comprehensive datasets.

With AI developing at a break-neck pace, we’ll likely see these kinds of solutions implemented in more and more areas over the years to come.

Remaining up to date with automation solutions is critical for most businesses in the modern era, where remaining competitive means taking advantage of every innovation at your disposal. There are a number of places to keep an eye out for the latest tech, from industry journals to trade shows – make these check-ins a part of your weekly routine, and take these solutions seriously going forward.

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