In previous blogs, we have spoken about the importance of supply chains updating their equipment and embracing future technologies to better manage risk. One such technology, or group of technologies, is automation. Supply chain automation is the implementation of digital technologies that streamline processes and improve connectivity within supply chain activities.
Intelligent technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation, Digital Process Automation and machine learning are all examples of automation that can (and should) be employed by supply chains looking to minimise risk and operate more efficiently.
In this blog, we will be going through the benefits that these technologies can bring to supply chains.
Relieving the burden of menial tasks
If one of your supply chain goals is operational efficiency (and it should be), then you need to make sure the time of your workers is being spent effectively. Menial tasks can take up a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere and automation technology allows you to take the burden of these tasks away from your employees.
Administrative duties such as payroll, ordering new stock and processing invoices can all be automated. Automating these processes decreases cycle times, reduces labour costs, provides detailed data-based inventory management and also eliminates the risk of human error.
Automation allows these tasks to carry on in the background, even out of normal business hours if required, but always leaves you with the option to have manual input should the need arise.
Meeting regulations and managing risk
As mentioned above, automation helps to prevent human error across a number of processes. This is a great boon for risk management as it is harder to ensure a worker has carried out a process while following regulations to the letter. As new regulations are brought in, businesses need to be audited to ensure the new requirements are being adhered to.
Automated systems will have a detailed, time-logged record of all the processes that have been completed, meaning that once the initial setup of the systems is completed, you can expect them to run in line with regulations every time.
Improving transparency and visibility
Another benefit of using automation in supply chains is that it increases end-to-end visibility and transparency across the chain. Automation can significantly improve connectivity across a supply chain without the need for user input.
Through the use of a low-code automation platform, all the businesses within a supply chain can access real-time information about the status of deliveries, location of parts and manufacturing progress reports.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme example of market disruption which we hopefully won’t experience again any time soon, but it has proven beyond a doubt that global upheaval and uncertainty are genuine possibilities. Embracing automation grants supply chains an improved resilience to future disruption.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, regional lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass worker illness have made it very hard for many businesses to continue functioning. Within industries already suffering from lengthy lead times and component shortages, the impact was even more devastating.
Automation allows certain core processes to continue, even when worker numbers are limited, and the increased visibility keeps the entire supply chain in the loop as to the progress (and limitations) of deliveries and manufacturing processes. Intelligent stock ordering systems can also improve the chances of healthy stock levels, even in times of shortages.
Automation is something all supply chains should consider investing in from a risk management perspective. When you also factor in the improved efficiency across all supply chain operations, the technology could be considered essential for the future of businesses across many industries.
If you are interested in a proactive and flexible approach to managing your supply chain, you can view our services.