Anything that can be managed through computer systems can be automated in the supply chain. Examples of current automation can include billing systems and the generation of customer bills, compliance reports and automated movements in a warehouse setting. In the past, we have seen automation in areas of business such as auditing orders or creating customer service reports. However, the trend for automation is gravitating towards actions that operate more like artificial intelligence.
Strategic ways of using robots
Currently, in many parts of the supply chain there are still a lot of manual labour duties, repetitive tasks and slow processes that keep things rolling. These processes are becoming antiquated as managers are identifying how much efficiency is being lost in these parts of the supply chain. The answer to this inefficiency problem could be enterprise process robotics. In order to streamline a series of tasks in the supply chain, process robotics can automate these duties and free up time for managers to look at other high-level aspects of the business. Instead of managing a long line of workers, they can look to improve value throughout the supply chain in more strategic ways.
Robotics can be used for managing inventory in a warehouse, collaborating and fulfilling orders; they can be used for stock taking as well. Just imagine how many employees would be free to do other components of their work. Stock taking can be an arduous and tedious task and there is an element of human error that is always present. By using robotics to automate the stock taking procedures in a warehouse, inventory stock results can be provided sooner and fewer employees will be needed for the task.
There is a place for robotics beyond just doing stock taking and pulling items from inventory shelves. It can play a critical role in making the product cycle of the supply chain more efficient. There is large scope for robotics to decrease the time it takes for a product to travel from a warehouse to the doorstep of a customer.
Vehicles and automation
Another part of the automation picture is through vehicles. Often, supply chains experience truck driver shortages, but with driver-less vehicles being created, the supply chain might soon see automated vehicles transporting their goods!
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.