A round table of leading supply chain management (SCM) technology analysts recently expressed their expert opinions on “intelligent” logistics and how today’s logistics companies need to stay relevant in an interview with Michael Levans. The professionals consisted of Cyndi Fulk Lago (Capgemini), Steve Banker (ARC Advisory Group), Norm Saenz (St. Onge) and Dwight Klappich (Gartner).
When it comes to “intelligent” logistics, Cloud computing is seen as being at the forefront of driving supply chain management into the future. It offers the ability to closely track products between the warehouse and the customer, cuts down the risk of lost products and allows easy re-routing of shipments.
But when it comes to transferring to this new system, managers are concerned about data security. But, are internal systems really any more secure? In response to many supply chain managers’ concerns about data security, Steve Banker said:
“Data security is indeed an issue; however, if companies are honest with themselves, they’ll understand that their internal security leaves a lot to be desired. The big server farms where these solutions are hosted can be hacked, but they probably have more security in place than the large majority of companies.”
Anthony Clervi wrote a comprehensive list of eight benefits to Cloud computing a few years ago, including scalability, cost containment, efficiency and optimization. His closing argument suggested that in a trade-based industry, sharing data and communication are crucial for meeting consumer needs. He admits that Cloud computing is just one piece of the bigger puzzle, but that it is absolutely critical.
“By moving systems beyond your four walls, you provide access to the information necessary to get orders to their destinations at the appointed times in a highly efficient manner.”
Banker went on to discuss the importance of the Cloud and its relevance in modern supply chain management:
But ultimately, it’s about more than Cloud. Traditional solutions have been built to optimise the operations of an individual company; but today, with our global supply chains and critical supply chain partners doing more and more of the heavy lifting, that architecture is becoming less relevant. We need to combine supply chain networks with new forms of optimisation that optimise across extended supply chains.
MoyaVox already uses Cloud computing, but some companies are still not comfortable with the concept. Because of this, we also offer a local install option, where we will install the system on a local computer or VM.
The Middle Man
Within supply chain management, there is always a lot of focus on the customer’s ordering experience and the delivery of products. These are often the two steps in the process that receive the most funding to improve.
When asked about the advantages of improved TMS/WMS/Big Data/IoT integration, Cyndi Fulk Lago responded:
“[They] are helping retailers to further automate and optimise their supply chains. Anyone can avoid running out of a key SKU before a big foreseen event creates a surge in demand, but the real question is how to handle an unexpected surge in demand due to an unforeseen event.
Getting the “right” SKU on the “right” shelf, despite a breakdown or an unexpected event, is only possible with a highly responsive IoT-enabled supply chain system, shelf sensors in the stores, and warehouse systems that automatically re-order products when inventories reach certain levels.”
But the real question is “which technologies are the most vital”? Norm Saenz says that while everyone is eager for the arrival of drones flying around their warehouses, or the AI intelligence that is constantly being experimented with, there are technologies already proven to make improvements to your warehouse operation. The most vital technologies, according to Saenz, is put-wall systems.
“These systems can be set-up to batch pick from the picking area using totes that are diverted into a separate put-wall system for e-commerce fulfilment. This can be done for multi- and single-line orders that are pushed through to packaging stations.”
He places importance on “Having the right size pick locations, an efficient material flow/layout, and best practice methods are keys regardless of any fancy technology.”
“Once these basic principles are established, then applying voice technology, pick-to-light, goods-to-person systems, conveyor technologies and put-walls can be evaluated.”
The Moyavox solution is tailored to the specific needs of the customer. We will always use the best technology to answer the problems and challenges the warehouse faces. Our software is highly configurable and brings extra functionality and flexibility.
Keeping Your Head Above Water
So, what must logistics and supply chain managers do to survive, and even thrive, in this era of digital transformation?
MoyaVox recommends the following:
1. Monitor the Key Performance Indicators.
2. Keep abreast of new technologies
3. Be open to new ideas, be brave in adopting new ideas.
Michael Levans: 2017 Technology Roundtable: Are we closer to “Intelligent” Logistics?
Anthony Clervi: Cloud Computing Is Transforming Supply Chain Management