It can’t be overstated how far improvements in technology have advanced supply chain management, particularly real-time collaboration.
An article on the Supply & Demand Chain Executive website discusses how technology has impacted order fulfillment through automation and increased efficiencies. Automatic bagging machines, for example, greatly improve the labeling and sealing processes, reducing bottlenecks and increasing efficiency and productivity.
When consumers place an order, rarely do they concern themselves with where the product is located or the processes it will go through before arriving at their door. But the story of the product’s journey is vastly improved, thanks to technology. “The warehouse has become significantly more organized, efficient and streamlined courtesy of technology,” the article notes.
The optimization of technology has also improved business-to-business communication. While the electronic data interchange (EDI) still exists, other mechanisms are available, such as web services and trading partners using collaborative business commerce solutions from Ariba. Thanks to technology from companies such as Ariba, it’s much easier to become part of a trading community. This reduces the need to create a partner-specific map for each business partner a company works with such as there is with EDI.
New technologies are making it easy for communication and collaboration to flow freely between the customer, the company, its suppliers and business partners, which could range from third-party fulfillment centers to contract manufacturers. The underlying technologies made available by the Internet makes working with those disparate pieces simpler than ever.
Open standards have made it faster and more efficient to move data across the Internet.
One area of supply chain management where technology has had a big impact is shopping cart integration, with customers better able to access information about their accounts, product availability and delivery information.
With the right applications, the right ERP system and the right shopping cart solution, it’s easy to provide real-time communication and also ensure that the distributor can start the fulfillment process immediately after the order is placed.
By taking advantage of the broad range of technology advancements, wholesale and retail distributors can provide faster, better service to their customers. Not only can these improvements speed up fulfillment, they also make it easy for information to be shared with customers, suppliers and business partners, creating an efficient and profitable supply chain.
Source: Supply & Demand Chain Executive, July 2013