If you go to a ballgame and don’t recollect where you parked, your phone can lead right to the parking spot. For your supply chain, similar technology can help you track and determine when and if a delivery will arrive on schedule.
When shopping for a car, your overall goal is to find a vehicle that fits your needs and preferences. If you have kids you’ll want something with a lot of room like an SUV or a minivan. If you travel a lot, a car with great fuel economy is a must. If you carry a lot of materials or find yourself “off-road” often enough, you’ll be shopping for a truck. Beyond that there are other niceties that are great, but may not be necessary. On board WiFi, air conditioned seats, and more can all add value to your vehicle, but they also add to the price tag. A warehouse management system can do the same thing.
It is no secret that time and money are two of the most essential resources for any business and this holds true for e-commerce companies. With the holidays quickly approaching any advantage that can create more time and/or save money will be a welcomed differentiator. Now, something that does both has arrived and it comes in the shape of a robot. Not necessarily the robots you see in movies, but these can be just as impressive; and they are changing the way warehouses operate.
Could you imagine shopping for clothes without going to the store and seeing, feeling and trying them on? 15 years ago, the answer was probably, “No”. Today many people probably could not imagine wandering around the mall when you could shop online from home. The same is true for buying a car. It used to be that the salesman at the dealership was the expert and held the answers to all of your questions. Today you can read reviews, industry articles, even build your own and compare against similar models online. When you step on the showroom floor, you may very well even know more than the salesman. This is just a small example about how technology has revolutionized how we shop and live as consumers today.
Think of all of the different passwords you type each day. One for your work email, personal email, bank account, to get into your phone and don’t forget about logging into Facebook, Pandora and Netflix. There is no denying the importance of data security today with the massive amounts of personal information we store and access electronically. It has become fairly routine, simple and effective to manage our personal access points on our different devices, but when it comes to the expanding Internet of Things (IoT), supply chain management is much more complex.
With the power of smartphones, the convenience of wifi and the endless reach of the internet, we are constantly connected. The ability to make purchasing decisions without being tethered has forced supply chains to adapt in order to respond to these new and changing demands. Cloud technology has leveled the level playing field for fulfillment centers. Integrating transportation management systems (TMS) with the cloud is a growing development.
In an effort to keep up with industry and consumer demand, 67% of logistics executives intend to increase their IT investment in 2014, according to a joint survey conducted by EFT and HP. The number one reason for the investment in technology is to make operations quicker and more efficient. In the Eyefortransport North American 3PL Market Report, they found that 92% of US third party logistics providers saw better IT solutions as a key to new growth opportunities.
Utilizing new technologies is undoubtedly a great way to increase the efficiencies that today's competitive market demands. Wireless implementations and cloud computing are allowing companies to trim costs, increase productivity and offer new service channels. A study in the North American 3PL Market Report showed that 92% of United States third party logistics providers felt that providing better IT solutions was the key to new growth opportunities. However with the influx of new technologies and electronic capabilities, unfortunately, comes the threat of data compromise and information loss.
Cloud technology, where services and data solutions are provided via an online solution, is attracting the attention of many executives in the logistics industry. Among the many advantages that cloud computing offers, the two most attractive are value and flexibility. Because of these advantages, cloud computing is becoming a larger piece of the supply-chain solution. According to the technology research firm Gartner, supply chain software spending will total $2.3 billion in 2013, and 18 percent of that spending will be on cloud-type solutions. As the movement towards cloud based solutions continues to expand, it is important for third party logistics companies to lend serious consideration to cloud based technology in their current and future strategic planning. For this very reason, Barrett Distribution put together a quick list of advantages and disadvantages to cloud computing for the logistics industry.
In today’s competitive landscape, there has been a surge of data and information in all business sectors. The logistics industry is certainly no exception to this trend. The ability to pass information between supply chain partners via mobile devices, satellite systems, and electronic data interchange is being embraced by more and more companies daily. IT companies are constantly adapting to the evolving world of data. As a result, new hardware and software solutions are developing innovative and organized methods to handle all of this “big data."