Better connections and visibility are increasingly common twin goals for many companies at every step of the supply chain, and technology is doing more all the time to make these objectives realistic. The internet of things, in particular, provides the kind of visibility companies have longed for, and because the rates of adoption for such tech is only beginning to gain steam, the impact on the supply chain could be massive.
There are already tens of billions of IoT-enabled devices in circulation worldwide - though obviously not all are used in the supply chain specifically - and that number could more than triple by 2025, according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive. As companies find new avenues with these devices to collect data, they are also willing to share that data with their partners at every step of the supply chain, and as these kinds of investments and decisions gain momentum, more visibility comes to these processes. That, in turn, will enable greater efficiency and better decision-making.
"There is a movement, or an evolution, that is occurring in the manufacturing space where customers are becoming more and more demanding to have access to that data," David Gustovich, senior director of Manufacturing Center of Excellence and the former founder and CEO of IQity Solutions, told the site. "The market is responding."
One of the big stumbling blocks with respect to broader adoption is the fact that connection speeds and capacity just aren't great enough along entire supply chains to truly give great insights for all involved, according to Supply Chain Dive. However, with the advent of 5G connections, that might become a thing of the past; the majority of companies now plan to use 5G technology by the end of 2020.
While many service providers may not be in a position to keep up with that pace, having the infrastructure in place throughout the supply chain will certainly be a boon for any company that wants to be among the first to at least get a foot in the door, the report said. This will likely take some strategic planning and will certainly require investment, but any such effort would likely prove fruitful in the years ahead.
The reason the logistics industry as a whole is changing so much is because consumers' preferences are evolving rapidly, according to Coresight Research. The more that can be done to ensure orders are fulfilled within a 24-hour period of being completed is likely to be the industry's next great leap forward in terms of meeting consumer expectations. Some companies are pushing the envelope even further now, aiming for same-day delivery whenever possible; they will require IoT and 5G at the very least to make that happen.
Certainly, supply chain executives should strive to understand their needs and the options available to them as time goes on, because true visibility into operations requires buy-in from all involved.