An Evolutionary Look at Supply Chain Management

Prateek Sharma
16 December 2022

The process by which a business controls the flow of its products and services from the point of production to the point of consumption is known as supply chain management. This process entails the transportation and storage of raw materials, finished items, inventory of work-in-progress, end-to-end order fulfilment, and the transportation of finished goods from the manufacturer to the warehouse and finally to the location of final consumption. Although this process seems simple, it actually requires a lot of labor, especially for businesses that have a lot of different products or services, vendors, warehouse sites, retail storefronts, etc.

The future of labor has been questioned recently due to the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and more automation, particularly with regard to supply chain management. The future of supply chain management is a hot topic right now. But I think the actual query on people’s minds is, “Will I be replaced by machines? ”

The response is affirmative even though it is more complicated than a straightforward yes or no. But let’s delve a little deeper to comprehend all the factors at play before I answer the two questions above. Let’s start by defining supply chain management.

The supply chain as we understand it now is the result of numerous processes combining to carry out a task. The complexity and diversity of supply chain management vary from firm to organization. Small businesses, for instance, may have to transport items from one warehouse to a distribution centre and then to a consumer. Large businesses, on the other hand, have a wider range of considerations to make, such as ports, third-party logistics, warehouse distribution, inventory management, and fulfilment, to mention a few.

The truth is that technology is disintermediating and disrupting the supply chain, just as it has done to other industries. In essence, repetitious, menial chores are now being mechanized.

Imagine that you manage a warehouse where one million steel beams are kept. In the past, you may assign a worker to regularly take a physical inventory of your stock. It would take a long time to complete this activity, and it might even be dangerous. These jobs are now being automated by robots, remote processes, and other processes thanks to AI and big data, though. The better predictive analysis provided by AI is disrupting the supply chain as well, which is advantageous for inventory tracking and ordering (e.g., how many steel beams will be needed in the coming months, when, and where).

The use of automation to forecast equipment wear and tear so that replacement components may be installed before equipment fails is another instance of how technology disrupts the supply chain. Supply chain management can be made more effective and predictable by using sensors to report performance and efficiency statistics.

Supply chain management is clearly not dead or dying, despite the fact that there is no doubt that the current supply chain is being disrupted. As it has done since its creation, it is evolving. But because we are in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this disruption is happening more quickly and on a bigger scale. As a result, this disruption is accompanied by some common anxieties. People are concerned that as a result of these changes, they will lose their jobs and be uprooted.

The idea that massive assembly lines would replace manual car builders put people in danger. On the assembly line, however, tasks that had not previously been performed by the workers might now be. Because the automation moved the parts more quickly, the quality testing that employees could undertake was at a higher level. New skill development opportunities were provided to the workforce.

Similarly, to this, when the Fourth Industrial Revolution automates laborious, dangerous, or repetitive work, both employers and employees stand to benefit. Automation will result in tighter adherence to delivery schedule obligations, quicker fulfilment, improved efficiency, and more revenues from a business standpoint. From the viewpoint of the employee, it will entail the chance to pick up and develop new, vital skills.

Although there is a lot of worry about employment being lost to technology, it’s vital to keep in mind that the biggest problem many employers confront is a lack of talent. Automation can be a blessing for organizations that are having trouble filling positions. Employees will be given the chance to acquire and develop new skills, and savvy companies will attempt to reskill those who are already familiar with the industry. Those looking for higher-paying employment can benefit from automation’s ability to provide new employment opportunities.

At the end of the day, innovation has always led to the creation of new markets and opportunities as well as the expansion of businesses. Those who embrace this transformation and make the most of it will stand to gain the most from supply chain management’s growth. But nobody seems to be leaving.

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