Logistics and supply chain are the moving force of an organization. Talking about the engineering sector, as consumer demands continue to rise and the scope of operational needs widens, the role of logistics and supply chain becomes of paramount importance. The modern consumer market demands supply chain operations to be flexible, agile, and accurate. In the thick of the recent pandemic, various inefficiencies of the supply chains came forth, and today more than ever, businesses feel the need for stable solutions to overcome those weaknesses. Today, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, cloud-based systems, the industrial internet of things, data analytics, and robotization of supply chain processes are no spike. Businesses are flocking towards technology to integrate resilient supply chain management irrespective of the scale and nature of the business. The engineering industry is one of the most advanced sectors whose efficiency and productivity levels are driven by technological adaptability to a great extent. Therefore, to ensure competence, cost-effectiveness, and proficiency in logistics and supply chain operations, the engineering industry is capitalizing on technological innovation for seamless operations.
Before we move towards the trends changing the logistics and supply chain landscape in the engineering industry, let's understand the roles of these two terms.
Understanding Roles of Logistics and Supply Chain
Logistics can be defined as planning, coordinating, and executing the movement of goods from the time raw materials are acquired to the time it reaches their destination point. Logistics is directly connected to a business's supply chain, ensuring the smooth movement of other operations through on-time deliveries. Besides product delivery, logistics managers need to look after various other tasks. Like freight management, plan routes, oversee warehouse and distribution management, check compliance with customs, ensure damage-free packaging, stuffing, manage returned goods, and fulfill inbound and outbound delivery commitments.
On the other hand, the supply chain facilitates the transformation of raw materials to final products and distribution or from purchase orders to order fulfillment. All the activities are administered by supply chain managers, planning, manufacturing operations control, scheduling, human resource management, inventory planning, quality control, compliance with standards, and all the aspects. Supply chains are an indispensable part of a business, having a deeper impact on production lead times, money, and efficiency of the organization.
To get deeper insights on logistics and supply chain, check out our related blog: Logistics & Supply Chain Management: Everything you should know about.
The engineering sector is complex, as it requires a high number of raw materials or spare components with precise levels of accuracy. Moreover, product handling, ensuring safe movement, maintaining inventory levels, organizing bills and receipts, and all associated tasks are error-prone and usually managed manually by supply chain managers involving considerable time.
Changing Trends of Logistics and Supply Chain in Engineering Industry
Technological advancements are redefining global supply chain management by adopting digitalized, connected, and distributed environments through intelligent and automated systems. This technological shift will improve business performance by eliminating redundant production & operating costs, enhancing transportation of goods and services, reducing cycle times, maintaining quality, and elevating consumer experience. Supply chain and logistics are undergoing a significant transformation, while several businesses have already adopted these technologies and enjoy improved overall business performance.
Below are some technological advances gaining immense popularity and acceptance in the industry.
- Automation and Robotics: Warehouse workers are responsible for packing and shipping all the boxes that come into their centers daily. Technology is making this process easier than ever with robots that have taken over large parts of the picking and packing processes, resulting in reduced labor costs and improved customer service and on-time delivery rates. Gartner's report for the future of supply chain technology identifies this process as robotic goods-to-person (G2P) systems. It states that “Through 2023, demand for robotic goods-to-person systems will quadruple to help enforce social distancing in warehouses." Moreover, this technology also results in higher efficiency and better storage use. Today's automation systems are more capable and flexible than ever. Fast picking systems can now handle between 1,000 and 2,400 picks per hour, sometimes even 5,000 if the conditions allow it. Vendors are looking for new ways to improve speed and accuracy in such systems in various settings. Advanced image processing technology allows robots to quickly identify objects presented in random positions or orientations that would have previously been difficult or impossible for automation technologies to handle.
- Shipment/Transportation Tracking Systems: Earlier, managers used to have little or no visibility into the shipment status of the goods. There was a huge dependency on telephone communication, lacking efficient management. Delivery delays can cost the business hefty amounts and waste efforts and time. With the advent of the internet and software solution, real-time tracking has become possible, allowing logistics managers to gain better visibility and efficiently manage the flow of goods. By 2023, 50% of global product-centric enterprises will have invested in real-time transportation visibility platforms.
- Digitalization of Supply Chains with Advanced Technology: It's no secret that engineering industries are complex. Manufacturing even a single part/equipment may need 10+ or 100s of components with many variants involved. Ensuring the availability of all the parts at precise timings, ensuring accuracy, and later managing outbound logistics, reverse logistics, and other supply chain operations is a strenuous task. It involves a lot of documentation and planning, including the pressure to optimize operations for saving overhead costs. On top of that, if any mismanagement occurs, the complete structure of the supply chain can negatively impact the business.
With the digitization of supply chain operations, businesses can address these challenges. Digitalization supports overall operations of the supply chain, from managing procurement, purchasing, scheduling production, distribution management, logistics, etc. Digital solutions provide better visibility in each supply chain process. By deploying artificial intelligence and advanced analytics tools, supply chain managers can predict any discrepancies in the management, anticipate delays, and make informed decisions based on data gathered. With digitalization, paperwork reduces drastically, and further, by incorporating software solutions, customized and precise reports can be generated as per need. With IoT technology, inventory and warehouse management have simplified significantly, as the systems automatically notify about the status of inventory/warehouse, eliminating the need for manual checks and reporting. Managing suitable temperature levels, humidity checks, ensuring safety through alarm systems, etc., has also become possible by deploying sensors and connecting them to software. Digitization has made it possible for supply chain managers to access any required data or operation status at their fingertips.
Achieving the highest level of efficiencies and automation integration are the primary benefits businesses can garner from technological advancements. Apart from the above-mentioned advancement in the supply chain management functions of the engineering industry, various other evolutions are taking place. The use of drone technology, automated trucking systems, collaborative robots, warehouse automation, blockchain & IoT for automated freight invoicing, robotic process automation (RPA), etc., are some of the brewing technological concepts that may become widespread in coming years.
The Role of Suppliers in Efficient Supply Chain Management: How can ESSNPS help you?
The supply chain and logistics operations greatly impact from the choice of suppliers. Suppliers have significant importance at every stage of the product's lifecycle. Businesses need to source raw materials, components of equipment, custom-built machinery/equipment, or other engineering goods for running manufacturing operations smoothly. However, the complexities associated with the efficient running of a supply chain can be an enormous challenge for many businesses. Companies need to work closely with their suppliers to get the most out of their products.
As specialists in industrial sourcing, our experience extends to managing international supply and logistics operations for tailor-made equipment/components per client requirements. At ESSNPS, we deal in industrial sourcing services for multiple engineering sectors, including process, automotive, discrete, and others, ensuring quality and timely deliveries through efficient logistics. Our team diligently undertakes the projects, drafts quality assurance plans as per defined parameters to maintain quality of equipment, tracks a capable vendor from our well-established vendor base, and formulates a strategic plan for ensuring hassle-free delivery of equipment being supplied.
Looking for a reliable supplier? Send in your requirements at firstname.lastname@example.org.