When it comes to your company’s supply chain, familiarity is tempting. If your company has been in business for a long time, there’s a good chance you’re still manually counting inventory, selecting products, packing them, and so on. However, certain manual processes are not only outdated, but also ineffective and potentially hazardous to your company’s success.
In today’s supply chains, automation has grown more popular. Merchants may now use cutting-edge technologies to take advantage of automation in their supply chains. It’s automation, when done correctly, may save money and time, boost company productivity, and prepare it for the future.
What is Supply Chain Automation?
The term “automation” refers to the use of technology solutions to automate or streamline procedures without requiring human attention, effort, or participation.
Automated technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and digital process automation may help a firm save time and handle more things by bringing it into the supply chain. AI will be able to free up your time in the future by completing duties and making business procedures more efficient.
Benefits of Supply Chain Automation
Automating your supply chain operations might provide a number of advantages. Here are some of the ways in which you can profit from automation.
Automating Manual Tasks
Supply chain automation allows your firm to shift human time and effort away from routine, time-consuming activities and focus it on more complex tasks that only a person can complete.
Tasks like as creating crucial paperwork, processing orders, assigning picking slots, and paying bills might take a long time.
Automating these activities allows you to outsource tasks that computers can do more quickly and efficiently, allowing human employees to focus on issues that require human action.
These are some of the advantages that having a lean and efficient supply chain has on your company. Not wasting employee time and potential on activities that another firm could accomplish is one of them.
Minimizing Human Errors
Humans make mistakes – and when activities are carried out manually, something will almost certainly go wrong.
Automation eliminates people from the equation, lowering your risk of error and preventing blunders such as:
- Accidentally duplicating an orders
- Entering data from inventory or order details incorrectly
- Entering inaccurate customer information (email, phone number, shipping address, etc.)
- Order errors can occur when you pick the incorrect item and pack it in the wrong box.
It takes a lot of work, communication, connectivity, and dedication on the part of merchants, suppliers, and service providers to maintain supply chain visibility.
Information is rapidly recorded and updated in near real-time through digital automation. This allows interested parties to access timely information, keep track of stocks, and communicate efficiently throughout the supply chain by permitting them to do so.
Furthermore, the improved supply chain visibility allows you to quickly find and address bottlenecks, which will reduce delays and disruptions in the future.
Improved Customer Experience
Customers will benefit, too. A largely automated supply chain delivers accurate orders promptly fulfilled and delivered to customers, which helps you maintain high customer satisfaction and loyalty rates.
Limitations of supply chain automation
Automation has several advantages, but it also has certain drawbacks that you should be aware of. Because there are fewer resources and less money available in the small company supply chain, these limitations may be more apparent.
Currently Limited To Certain Tasks
Automation does not apply to all functions. While basic activities such as order processing, inventory counts, and administrative duties are ideal candidates for automation, the vast majority of supply chain processes will still necessitate human attention and involvement.
Although picking lists may be generated automatically and pickers assigned to help you with the physical picking, these robots are still unable to make key judgments based on changing conditions (for example, what to do in case of shortages). Furthermore, they don’t have the capability to grasp objects that are kept in more difficult environments.
The cost of IT solutions for supply chain management is usually exorbitant and can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars each year.
Smaller ecommerce firms and startup DTC businesses may not be able to afford this type of major financial commitment. Typically, these companies outsource their warehousing and fulfillment services to a tech-enabled 3PL or logistics platform in order to use supply chain automation systems.