How Automated Inventory Fits the New Supply Chain

Simon Eskow Supply Chain Articles Leave a Comment

Robots and data and drones, oh my. Every day, we read about some new technology to revolutionize supply chains. From the factory floor to last-mile delivery, technology promises greater efficiency. Even if implementation proceeds slowly, we can see how it will all come together. In fact, businesses already make, sell and deliver products to customers at an accelerated rate. Manufacturing and logistics may all the fancy robots. However, automated inventory management plays no small a role in this unfolding story.

Automated Inventory and the Edge of Tomorrow

Engineers look at the state of technology in the supply chain and conclude we’re on the cusp of a new era. If a supply chain describes how a business gets the right product to the right place at the right time, then it’s a safe bet. Robots, data, and automation reduce waste, create efficiency, and ultimately drive profits higher. Thus, technology can only make supply chains better.

Automated Warehouses for Faster Kitting and Packing

Some say warehouses will resemble light manufacturing plants more than a bunch of shelves with a roof. At the same time, a lot of warehouses will simply focus on faster and more efficient picking and packing. Thus, warehouses will start to be either a place where up-skilled people work, where robots work or both. In the former, a skilled workforce that does more than just pick and pack will quickly do the subassembly of products. Meanwhile, many companies and organizations compete in the automation arena. For example, a recent competition saw the development of a shelving system built around a central picking and packing robotic arm.

Automated Logistics Down to the Last Mile

First, came the drones. Then came the driverless trucks and sailor-less vessels. What’s next, pilotless aircraft? While that may be a bridge too far, companies spend billions developing automated logistics. For example, Norwegian maritime tech company Kongsberg Gruppen ASA a few months back launched a plan to build a fully autonomous cargo container ship by 2020. Meanwhile, on the roads, Uber made its first semi-automatic freight delivery, as archrival Waymo tests a similar self-driving truck.

Meanwhile, the multi-billion dollar drone industry continues to move closer to practical reality. While there are a lot of regulatory and technical obstacles to clear, companies have tested droes for application in the warehouse and for last-mile delivery.

Automated Inventory At Your Finger Tips

In automated supply chains, hardware draws the oohs and aahs. However, keep in mind hardware can’t do anything without the brain. From the tech that drives the drones to the algorithms that determine marketplace search returns, it’s all about software. Industry predicts that software, particularly AI, will affect back-office functions such as supply chain optimization the most over the next five years.

Automate Inventory with Cin7

Cin7 this year entered a new phase of product development. Our goal is to automate half of all workflow processes by the end of the year, and 95% by the end of 2018.

Cin7 customers can now automate all their eCommerce order and fulfillment processes. With a single set up, they can download, route and dispatch orders without any human intervention. This efficiency gives them more time to focus on mission critical activities. It sets them on the path to truly automated inventory.

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