Supply Chain

Technologies Driving Supply Chain Transparency and Efficiency

Automation Alley
November 29, 2022
Download PDF


Emerging technologies hold the key to stabilizing and building a better supply chain. Whether it is physical additive manufacturing or data driven cloud manufacturing, both parts will play a role in shaping the supply chain of tomorrow.

Between chip shortages and rising food prices, consumers are more aware of the supply chain than ever before. While such information was formerly known by a select few, recent global events caused the entire world to become hyper-aware of the supply chain and its various issues. For instance, efficiency and transparency are two of the main issues impacting supply chains across the world. Luckily, there are many emerging technologies to help address these issues. The following is an overview of these technologies.

The Blockchain

Although many people look at the blockchain as simply the home base of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, the technology itself is one of the most versatile, innovative tools created in recent years. This is because the blockchain can help by automatically recording the price, location, date, certification, and quality, as well as other relevant information. Doing so gives supply chain managers the capacity to manage supply chains more effectively. 

Given that this information is readily available by the blockchain, this means managers can boost the traceability of supply chain materials while also reducing the losses stemming from the counterfeit and gray market. This technology can also be instrumental in boosting compliance and visibility over outsourced contract manufacturing. Blockchain technology further has the potential to enhance an organization's ability to lead the revolution in responsible, more sustainable manufacturing.

Big Data Analytics

Another emerging technology that is helping improve the efficiency of the supply chain is big data analytics (BDA). For those who are yet unfamiliar, big data analytics is a term used to describe the collection of real-time data using analytical tools. It also involves the use of computer algorithms to obtain pertinent insights and patterns that allow for making more informed decisions using data, audio, video, and text.

Big data analytics include the following properties:

●     Volume: Big data involves processing a tremendous amount of data.

●     Velocity: Big data analytics also means that the data will be generated very quickly and processed in a concise time period.

●     Variety: Big data analytics provides processing power for a wide array of data types, including structured and unstructured data.

●     Value: Big data analytics are meant to provide organizations with significant value – the overall goal is to generate major value in terms of the supply chain’s efficiency and transparency.

●     Veracity: Big data analytics makes the data and information being processed much more reliable.

●     Variability: Lastly, BDA boosts the flexibility of the data as a means of adapting new data formats by collecting, storing, and processing them. Overall, BDA is meant to assist organizations in achieving long-term corporate success while also giving them a competitive advantage over comparable businesses and organizations.

Artificial Intelligence

An additional highly beneficial tool to help boost transparency and efficiency is AI. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a sector that involves the use of computer science as a means of creating systems with the capacity to complete various tasks that typically require human brainpower. When it comes to the supply chain, the three main features used to help improve its efficiency are:

●     Sensing and interacting

●     Learning from the data

●     Decision making

Cloud Manufacturing

One more helpful technology in terms of the supply chain is cloud manufacturing. This is a method of providing a shared network of manufacturing resources and capabilities through the internet by establishing a virtual and global environment. The logic of cloud manufacturing is service-based, which means providers and consumers interact to sell and acquire services such as product design, simulation, production, and assembly.

Additive Manufacturing

On another note, additive manufacturing (AM)involves generating three-dimensional digital models via computer-aided design software. Most often, the physical product created by additive manufacturing is produced via a 3D printer. Moreover, AM helps with Industry 4.0 goals by creating customized items in small batches and generating complex and lightweight designs with a high level of precision.

Ready to Boost the Transparency and Efficiency of Your Supply Chain?

No matter what role you play in managing the supply chain, change is inevitable. Recent global events have caused virtually everyone to take a long, hard look at how the supply chain functions and what can be done to improve it. Although we are not yet at the point where these technologies are being rolled out en masse, we have arrived at a place where it is possible in the foreseeable future. Either way, this is the perfect time for individuals and organizations to do their part in terms of adopting these new technologies to make the supply chain optimally efficient for all.



Automation Alley
Automation Alley

Automation Alley is a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for North America and a nonprofit Industry 4.0 knowledge center with a global outlook and a regional focus. We facilitate public-private partnerships by connecting industry, education and government to fuel Michigan's economy.

Here's How to Prepare for Blockchain
Integr8 Show Emphasizes Advanced Technology
Become a Member