It seemed that in March 2021 the world was talking about nothing but the 200,000 ton cargo ship creating a block in the Suez Canal. Later that year, dozens of ships moored off the west coast of the United States, which account for about 40% of US imports, made headlines. Add to that the trucker shortage, the chip shortage, and the spread of COVID-19 vaccines and reminders, and it’s no wonder supply chain news has been in the spotlight in 2021. .
The conversation around supply chain trends doesn’t last 15 minutes of fame. The main stories of 2021 showed the world the real and daily impact of supply chains and technologies on people’s lives. This year, all eyes will continue to be on the supply chain as innovators strive to create solutions that leverage technology and data to address persistent challenges. While there’s no guarantee what 2022 has in store, here are some technology trends shaping the state of the supply chain.
Move to more automation in the warehouse and hub space
Businesses will take advantage of technologies such as telematics that can provide them with real-time data to address labor shortage issues and automate key processes. One of the processes is managing inventory and tracking the flow of goods into and out of facilities. This has a cascading effect on driver waiting time and can minimize human error and streamline the accounting of goods transported from site A to site B.
Businesses will also be forced to invest more in data technology in their continued response to COVID-19 and the broader economic impact on resources related to their business operations. Tools such as data loggers will likely continue to be used, but will slowly be replaced by solutions that provide more comprehensive real-time visibility data for warehouse management as well as when goods are loaded onto a trailer.
The most important data for this type of management is that which makes it possible to triangulate the location of parcels as they move from one area of the distribution center (DC) to another, then as as they move from one DC to another distribution center or on to the end customer. In large fulfillment centers, such as Amazon, this localization and supply chain process is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and visibility-intensive.
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The need for better data will outweigh the interest in more data
Fleet management and supply chain companies will seek actionable information that they can share and use to collaborate with partners and other supply chain participants, such as shippers, transportation providers and of logistics, 3PL, etc., in order to make more informed decisions. With longer wait times at docks, capacity issues across multiple modes of transportation, and rising costs associated with each mode, these companies will want better data, rather than more data, about their shipment of goods. . Data such as usage data or cargo dwell time, captured from telematics devices, edge computing solutions and third parties (such as ocean and flight data) can provide contextual and actionable insights when integrated into management solutions.
The useful data around trailers extends far beyond the cargo inside. When a trailer is empty, fleet owners lose money. Additionally, the condition of the trailer itself is crucial to understand so that shipments can be made. For example, whether the trailer is ready for the road or not and whether it is ready to be loaded for a shipment. In a yard full of trailers, identifying which ones can be used, which ones are empty and which ones need real-time maintenance is invaluable.
In addition to optimizing trailer utilization, enabled visibility can mitigate challenges such as the current increase in cargo theft. Trailer looting continues to make the news, so knowing when a door has been opened or a package has been tampered with while a trailer is sitting is vital information to have. The additional challenges presented by shipping sensitive goods can also be mitigated with real-time data. An exponential amount of money can be lost due to spoiled cargo. The ability to track how long goods have been in a trailer will ensure that shipments do not go to waste. In all the challenges presented to fleet managers, the data provided by telematics is essential to the decision-making of leaders.
Cold chain monitoring will remain essential
Over the past year, the logistics behind shipping COVID-19 vaccines have driven new innovations in cold chain monitoring solutions designed to ensure the quality and integrity of vaccine shipments. We can expect to see further improvements in cold chain technology, including devices with better battery life, sensors providing real-time data on light, temperature, humidity and shocks to monitor perishables like food, pharmaceuticals and biomaterials with greater environmental granularity to ensure compliance with regulations.
Supply chain visibility software will continue to evolve to translate what devices collect into user interfaces that end users can act on. Specifically, having a solution that can bring together data from all stakeholders – whether shippers, carriers, brokers or freight forwarders – will optimize transportation and supply chain logistics. and enable the just-in-time deliveries that consumers expect. This cross communication and collaboration will be important for companies with complex supply chains to improve in the years to come.
Increased regionalization will be a game-changer for supply chain visibility
To reduce the risk of supply chain disruption, such as supplier issues or a 200,000 ton channel bottleneck, more organizations will bring their factories and distribution centers closer to customers. Such regionalization will help reduce the kilometers traveled by each driver as well as the time spent loading and unloading. This, coupled with real-time intelligence from connected devices, sensors, and supply chain visibility software, will further streamline operations and deliver new efficiencies.
With the global focus on the supply chain, there is no doubt that 2022 will be a year of innovation in the industry. While only time will tell what 2022 has in store for the supply chain industry, we’ve known for two years that businesses, transportation providers, technology providers and everyone else will find ways to innovate and to overcome any obstacle to gain efficiency. in supply chain operations.
Please note that at the time of writing, Sopa Soun was with CalAmp but has since moved to Realtor.com