With supply chain digitization, professionals can implement innovative business processes that maximize efficiency and productivity.
Supply chains do far more than deliver raw materials from point A to point B — they provide the backbone of any competitive business. Supply chain digitization is crucial for tracking deliveries, reducing costs, or simply facilitating collaboration with stakeholders. If you want to make your business processes more efficient, these digital techniques can help you get started.
Want to know more about upgrading your products and services? Check out The Executive's Guide to Digitization in Business.
Jump to a section:
- What is supply chain digitization?
- What are the benefits of supply chain digitization?
- How does supply chain digitization work?
- How we encourage supply chain digitization
What is supply chain digitization?
Supply chain digitization is the strategy of replacing manual processes in a supply chain with more efficient digital alternatives. The specific implementation plan can vary by company, but usually includes centralized management tools and automation technology.
Supply chain management is not the only profession undergoing a digital transformation, but its evolution does stand to have an outsized impact on your business. Inefficient supply-side activities can pose a massive risk for any company — as pandemic-driven shortages have abundantly clarified.
Embracing centralized digital tools can reduce shortages, minimize costs and recalls, improve retention rates, and contribute to overall customer satisfaction. These benefits are vital for the long-term health of any company, from small ecommerce brands to established brick-and-mortar storefronts.
What are the benefits of supply chain digitization?
Supply chain automation
Until we have Star Trek-style transporters that can fling items across space in shimmering waves of energy, the supply chain will always require a healthy portion of physical logistics. However, companies can still use technology to automate many operational processes. For example, almost all delivery-adjacent data entry tasks can be completed by scanning a barcode. Businesses can also transmit payments and authorizations electronically, preventing any project delays. Digital tools and automation streamline these processes to make the supply chain more efficient and productive, ultimately contributing to higher profits.
Digitization brings a high degree of visibility into the supply chain, making it trivial to track whole shipments down to the specific location of individual items. In addition, sensors and automated logging capabilities allow for real-time tracking of any inventory. These capabilities let manufacturing teams know when to expect supplies and help customers plan for incoming product deliveries.
Optimization and cost reduction
Managing a physical supply chain requires endless written reports and audits to understand precisely where performance can improve. Supply chain digitization, on the other hand, uses digital tools to store all relevant information in a centralized location. Managers can use these tools to monitor inventory, raw materials, and other logistics in an organized way.
At a minimum, this perspective lets companies forecast production and conduct essential resource planning. On a deeper level, these records can identify potential problems or bottlenecks that impact a product’s time-to-market. This understanding makes it easier to optimize the supply chain to prevent slowdowns that eat into a company’s bottom line.
Modern businesses must be agile to innovate, engage with customers, or respond to unexpected challenges. A digital supply chain grants that flexibility by making information accessible to everyone who can improve the chain — particularly business stakeholders and third-party vendors. If a company wishes to source new materials or implement new inventory workflows, digital supply chains make it easy to collaborate with all parties to find the right solutions.
Did You Know?:Digitization is also an effective way to keep personal and corporate finances in order.
How does supply chain digitization work?
Supply chain digitization techniques can vary depending on the nature of an industry, available raw materials, and countless other factors. Additionally, not all businesses opt for a complete digital transformation. Instead, some adopt a hybrid model that balances manual and digital processes — essential if any partners or stakeholders still rely on analog systems.
Despite these distinctions, most digital and hybrid supply chains utilize three core elements:
Integrated business processes
The most vital design feature of any digital supply chain is integration. Interconnected processes can enhance the transparency of end-to-end chain operations while helping each partner coordinate their efforts. This visibility also lets businesses create more accurate projections, such as delivery times or when to order more raw materials.
Digitization creates the opportunity to leverage digital tools and platforms that dramatically increase day-to-day operational efficiency. Some common examples include:
- Supply chain management software: These centralized platforms enable the management of most, if not all, end-to-end business processes from a centralized interface. There are many products to choose from, but Logility and SAP SIM are ideal starting points in terms of features and usability.
- Document scanners: Digital and hybrid supply chains still frequently require paper documentation, which can rapidly become a problem in terms of storage and accessibility. Professional document scanners are the ideal solution since they digitize hundreds of pages per minute for storage on a hard drive or in the cloud. It’s no surprise that as companies digitized their operations during COVID-19, document scanner sales saw a significant increase.
- RFID/GPS tags: Supply chains use electronic tags that activate automatic sensors at different checkpoints to track inventory. In terms of cost-effectiveness, RFID tends to be the most reliable option. However, if you’re willing to pay for it, GPS technology unlocks an unlimited global range for real-time tracking.
Every supply chain professional knows that operations are exponentially more complex if the chain includes multiple nations and business partners. These additional layers make it harder to identify factors contributing to disruptions and inefficiencies. That’s why it’s essential to have data management capabilities that report on all supply chain components.
The good news is most supply chain management solutions have these features, but specific capabilities can vary by platform. At a minimum, professionals need automatic reporting tools that summarize every component on the chain. More complex platforms may include machine-learning-powered data analytics that flags optimization opportunities, preventative maintenance suggestions, and more.
Did You Know?:We offer a full assortment of accessories and replaceable parts to make sure your scanner is functioning at its best for years to come.
How we encourage supply chain digitization
With over 50% of global products and services offering digital components, supply chains must implement technology to keep up with high-demand markets. We help organizations prioritize performance by leveraging some of the world’s most advanced and robust electronics. Our professional grade fi and SP Series scanners allow any digital or hybrid business to maintain electronic records and integrate them with other automated business processes.
Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, the fi and SP Series scanners are capable of processing tens of thousands of pages per day at high levels of accuracy and reliability. Their intuitive integration capabilities with existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.