Supply chain management is the management of the flow of inventory, information and finances throughout the lifecycle of the products. It involves movement and storage of raw materials, maintaining inventory under production as well as movement and storage of finished inventory to the consumption site.
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The goal of supply chain management is to make the entire process more effective and efficient by maintaining the least amount of inventory in relation to supply.
Image credit : geralt/Pixabay
Supply chain management involves multiple entities like suppliers, manufacturers, shipping organizations etc. Coordination and information flow among them is complex, but using IoT in supply chain management can make the entire supply chain more efficient by enabling real-time data visibility and communication.
IoT technologies like Cloud-based GPS and RFIDs allow real-time tracking of all the assets within the supply chain. This provides an accurate overview of the entire supply chain at any point in time.
Following are the ways in which IoT can benefit supply chain management:
1. By tracking inventory, supply can be accurately adjusted to meet the demand. Customer behaviour data can also be collected and analysed to help understand the customer needs better.
2. Inventory tracking can protect against theft and damage to the products. Immediate notification can be received when a product is moved out of the warehouse or if it is damaged.
3. IoT helps in facilitating automation within the supply chain, such as maintaining required temperature in the warehouse or during transit. This reduces spoilage of goods and as a result, reduces losses.
4. By tracking machinery used in the production process, immediate notifications about machinery faults can be received. This information can be used to automatically reroute the process to another machine and prevent delays in the production process. Maintenance can also be scheduled automatically for the machines.
5. Shipment tracking is an important application of IoT in a supply chain. Real-time, accurate information about the location of a particular shipment minimizes uncertainty. Customers can know exactly when they can expect their delivery. They can also know beforehand about any delays in their shipment and the reasons for it. Getting first-hand information improves the customer experience.
6. Fleet management using IoT can result in major savings for the organization. Real-time communication and tracking allow proactive changes to the route to avoid traffic jams or bad weather. This can prevent unnecessary delays and fuel costs. Based on historical data collected by IoT sensors, optimized routes can be mapped out to reach the destination without delays.
7. IoT based fleet management also allows shipments to be rerouted while in transit. For example, a raw material shipment facing bad weather down the road, it can be rerouted to an alternate manufacturing facility along the way.
Cisco has started implementing IoT in its supply chain management and is already seeing benefits.
Cisco Connected Supply Chain (Cisco connected supply chain) and SAP Leonardo IoT Bridge (SAP IoT products) are some of the products for supply chain management using IoT.
With the increase in consumerism, it is essential for supply chains to be as efficient as they can be. IoT based supply chain management offers an accurate 360-degree view of the entire supply chain at all times. This helps to make better decisions for an efficient supply chain. Supply chain management using IoT is the direction for the future.