Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

As businesses become increasingly reliant on the logistics industry, companies are looking for ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, fill gaps, and enhance supply chain visibility. One solution to these challenges is automation.

Automation has played a significant role in revolutionizing the logistics industry in recent years. With the help of advanced technology, logistics companies have optimized their supply chain processes, reduced operational costs, and enhanced their overall efficiency.

Automation in Logistics

Automation in logistics refers to the use of technology and software to automate the processes and tasks involved in the movement and storage of goods. This can include transportation, warehousing, inventory management, and order processing. 

There are several examples of automation in logistics, including:

Process Automation in Logistics

Process automation involves the use of technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. The following are examples of process automation:

  • Automatic data entry: These tools can automatically read barcodes or RFID tags to update inventory records.
  • Automated pick and pack systems: These systems can pick items from storage and package them for shipping without human intervention.
  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): are self-driving vehicles that can transport goods within a warehouse or distribution center.

Robotic Process Automation in Logistics

Robotic process automation (RPA) involves using programs to automate routine tasks. Examples of RPA consist of the following:

  • Order processing: Software robots can extract order information from emails or electronic documents and enter it into the company's order processing system.
  • Freight invoicing: Software robots can automatically check invoices for accuracy and process payments.
  • Inventory management: Software robots can monitor inventory levels and trigger reorder requests when inventory falls below a certain threshold.

Use of Drones in Logistics

Drones are aerial vehicles that can transport goods over short distances. They are beneficial for delivering goods to remote or hard-to-reach areas. Some examples of drone applications in logistics include:

  • Last-mile delivery: Drones can deliver small packages directly to customers in urban areas.
  • Inventory management: Drones can perform inventory checks in large warehouses or outdoor storage areas.

Automation in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain automation refers to the use of technology and software to automate the processes and tasks involved in the planning, sourcing, manufacturing, and delivering of goods. This can include demand forecasting, procurement, production scheduling, and logistics management.

There are several examples of automation in supply chain management, consisting of:

Demand Planning and Forecasting

Demand planning and forecasting involve using software to predict customer demand and plan production accordingly. Examples include:

  • Predictive analytics: Software can analyze historical sales data and market trends to forecast future demand.
  • Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP): S&OP software can help companies align sales forecasts with production schedules and inventory levels.

Procurement Automation

Procurement automation involves using technology to streamline the procurement process, from supplier selection to contract management. Examples consist of the following:

  • Electronic sourcing tools: can help companies identify and select suppliers based on predefined criteria.
  • Contract management software: can help companies manage contracts, automate renewals, and track supplier performance.
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Manufacturing Automation

Manufacturing automation involves using technology to automate the production process, from product design to assembly. Examples of this automation include:

  • Computer-aided design (CAD): CAD software can help designers create product designs and prototypes more quickly and accurately.
  • Robotics: Industrial robots can perform repetitive tasks, such as welding and painting, more efficiently and precisely.

Benefits of Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Automation can improve safety, resource utilization, real-time tracking, and data analysis, making it an essential tool for companies seeking to compete in today's fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment. Additionally, automation in the logistics industry and supply chain management also provides the following benefits; 

  • Increased Efficiency. Automation can streamline logistics processes, reducing the time and effort required to complete tasks such as data entry, document processing, and transportation.
  • Reduced Costs. Companies can reduce labor and transportation costs by automating manual tasks and using robots and drones to transport goods.
  • Improved Visibility. Automation can improve supply chain visibility, allowing companies to track the location of their products as they move through the supply chain.
  • Better Decision Making. With improved supply chain visibility, companies can make better decisions about inventory management, transportation, and other logistics-related activities.

Automation transforms logistics and supply chain management, providing companies with the tools to stay competitive. While automation has improved efficiency and reduced costs, it has also created new challenges requiring specialized expertise. This is where customs brokerage and freight services can play a crucial role.

Customs brokers and freight service providers can help businesses navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by automation in logistics and supply chain management. Get in touch with one of our specialists to gain expertise and support to ensure compliance with regulations, optimize supply chain operations, and enhance end-to-end visibility.

Click here for your freight quote.
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About Author
Alexandra Haukaas

Alex Haukaas is a logistics professional who has been in the freight forwarding, NVOCC, and brokerage industries for over 18 years. Alex has worked in all modes of transportation, including air, ocean, truck, rail, and project cargo. Her successful management style is a hands-on approach to identifying her team's strengths, which results in a positive and cohesive work environment. In 2022, Alex was recognized by the Surrey Board of Trade for her exemplary work throughout the pandemic and received the Surrey Women in Business Corporate Leader Award.

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