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3 Next-Gen Supply Chain Trends That Are Improving With Cloud Computing
As companies look towards what's next in supply chain management, they often realize cloud computing is taking center stage as next-generation supply chain trends flourish. Here are three trends to look forward to.

1. Artificial Intelligence Provides Better Visibility

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an essential part of enhanced supply chain management. This technology helps businesses gather real-time information and discover information they may otherwise miss. However, at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in September 2019, speakers cautioned that people implementing AI should not set goals that are too high.

Clive Swan, the Vice President of Applications Development at Oracle, talked about how the hype surrounding AI often pushes companies to plan "moon shots" that are hard to achieve. Bill Briggs, Deloitte Consulting's Chief Technology Officer, recommended against making AI "the hero of the story." He pointed out how AI can work alongside other technologies, including cloud computing.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a branch called the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) that applies AI to its supply chain in a few key areas. Michael Scott, the deputy director of the DLA's logistics programs, explains it's a one-of-a-kind tool using machine learning, predictive analytics and multiple input data sources. The goal is to focus on risk from three perspectives ⁠- suppliers, item or product procuring and pricing.

The use of AI supports the DLA's broader intention to focus on cloud computing, too. For example, the DLA recently moved its warehouse management system to the cloud, and it already has nearly 100 cloud-hosted applications.

2. IoT Sensors Promote Improved Awareness

The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses all kinds of internet-connected gadgets ranging from security cameras to smart speakers. Many supply chain professionals depend on IoT sensors to see the status of items within the supply chain. When clients choose enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, it's best to pick one that allows them to keep tabs on the supply chain and look for issues. IoT sensors make that happen.

According to a 2018 study, 30% of survey respondents admitted they do not thoroughly check their supply chains to prepare for disruptions. However, the ability of the IoT to spot signs of trouble are virtually endless.

For example, delivery trucks could have IoT sensors that connect to a fleet management interface. This interface shows local traffic jams, road work or other things that could make cargo arrive late. Machinery at manufacturing plants may have IoT gadgets that show operating efficiency and prevent unexpected shutdowns.

When the supply chain involves delicates or perishables, the sensors can monitor for things like improper temperatures or products handled roughly. Ongoing updates about items in the supply chain allow related parties to know when intervention is necessary to get operations back on track.

The cloud comes into play because it stores and processes the vast amounts of data collected by the IoT sensors. Additionally, cloud-based analytics dashboards let users see what's changed over time. By doing that, they can pinpoint parts of the supply chain that may have become less efficient.

3. Robotics Keep the Supply Chain Consistent

A recent report predicts the sales of industrial robots will grow by more than 10% in 2020. Moreover, the report showed traditional industrial robots are far more popular than collaborative robots - often called cobots.

People who work in supply chain logistics find robots appealing because they're dependable once set up correctly. For example, humans need rest breaks, but robots can work for long periods without interruption. Robots can also relieve workers of strenuous tasks, such as moving heavy boxes to the correct areas of warehouses.

Cloud computing allows people to get real-time details on all the robots in a supply chain. Plus, several models have emerged for applying robotics to supply chain management. Some companies use robots to pick items before shipment. Amazon famously uses robotics to help its distribution centers operate on schedule.

Combining the cloud with robotics helps people calculate their ROI (return on investment). They can then make confident choices about purchasing robots or keeping their numbers the same.

Supply Chain Management and the Cloud

Supply chain management and cloud technology undoubtedly support each other. Managers today have a multitude of options, and cloud computing providers find the supply chain sector offers another line of business.

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About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits ProductivityBytes.com. Follow her on Twitter @productibytes to read all of her latest posts!
Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 7:12 AM by David Marshall
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