IoT innovations expected to advance supply chains
Supply chain management is expected to find itself in the middle of an innovation period thanks to developments from Internet of Things (IoT) technology platforms, which allow for greater connectivity between systems and additional data with which to make decisions.
According to a study last year from Boston Consulting Group, the IoT market for discrete manufacturing is expected to quadruple to $40bn by 2020, compared to what it was in 2015. Boston Consulting Group also notes that current adoption of this technology is being propelled by a drive for greater automated inventory management procedures.
It is expected to play a part in more than just manufacturing, however, as it can help to provide insights on everything from aeroplane productions to crops and agriculture.
This is enabling a period of rapid growth in supply chain management, as technology begins to catch up with efforts to help improve efficiency, reduce waste, and get greater consistency over profit margins.
Although not all of a workforce can be automated, the IoT helps to provide a barrier between human labour and artificial intelligence (AI), so that some processes can be greatly improved but still maintain an essential human function when it comes to aspects such as plant safety.
Major companies such as Amazon are already implementing IoT technology in the form of wearables, which are passed out to workers in its warehouses to help track the data and increase workflow efficiency.
While there are still some outstanding privacy issues that are yet to be resolved, the much-increased levels of data collection are already allowing for much greater insights into how supply chains operate, and thus give rise to a host of new decisions facilitated by the introduction of IoT technology.
Although still in its early stages, mainstream adoption of this, alongside developments such as blockchain, is expected to become the norm in the supply chain.