Optimization Technologies Likely to Impact Future Development of the Supply Chain Management Industry

The world in which we live and do business continues to change rapidly due to the constant development of new technologies and the refinement and improvement of existing ones. The supply chain management industry (including logistics, warehousing, materials handling, and transport) is most definitely impacted by this trend.

Changing consumer buying patterns have led to new and diverse demands being placed on the industry, and at the same time, technological advances make it possible for companies to use the latest developments and equipment to optimize their overall supply chains, adding value to their businesses and to the customer experience.

Some of the technologies that are beginning to have a significant effect on SCM are:

  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). Portable robotics that can move materials around a warehouse or other similar facility. They self-navigate by following floor-mounted markers or wires, or by using vision, magnets, or lasers.
  • Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). Computer-controlled systems that are capable of automatically putting away and picking items from predefined storage areas (sometimes also called auto-pickers).
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI). Devices that perceive and assess their environment and then take actions based on this to achieve a specific goal. They mimic the cognitive thought processes and reactions of humans and animals. AI is sometimes also referred to as “machine learning”.
  • Robotics. An interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that focuses on developing machines that can replicate human actions and replace humans in some work environments.
  • Big Data. Initially, this was a term used to describe data sets that were too large or complex for traditional data-processing software to handle. Now, however, the phrase tends to be used to refer to the extraction of value from data by using predictive user behavior or other advanced data analytics methods, rather than being concerned with the actual size of the data set.

While we can’t predict exactly what the future holds for the supply chain management industry, we are sure that these, and other technologies, will play an increasingly important role going forward.

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