Automation in the supply chain is developing around us. Leveraging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation, optical character recognition and robotics to lower the operational cost of delivering a product or service.
Automation can be introduced at every step of the supply chain, enhancing logistics firms’ ability to flex with peak demand, take on heavier cargo and pick and pack individual products. But how does it effect the supply chain? Although in theory, automation reduces demand for labour to perform routine tasks, in practise it also increases employment and wages for workers in other sectors such as software engineering, training and robotic maintenance. So automation could be the future of supply chain management.
An article written by Craig Gulliot, who writes about logistics, retail, manufacturing and technology for such clients as Supply Chain Dive, stated that “in conversations with Supply Chain Dive, experts said automated technology is not a panacea for every application or facility. In fact, there are many components of the supply chain that either cannot or should not be automated.”
- Skill gaps- its not easy to replace old technologies with automation to the fullest extent. The whole process demands time and expert knowledge, which is a big burden for most companies. If you want to switch to automation, make sure to understand everything from software development to data science to make it work flawlessly right from the beginning.
- Automation needs control- although being capable of doing many great things, automation is not a self-sufficient system. On the contrary, you still need to control it and give it inputs to ensure effortless functioning.
- It’s difficult to spot a mistake – An automationed supply chain is not only processing information but also learning and getting even more intelligent. It turns into a complex monitoring system over time, but this is exactly why it’s difficult to notice and identify mistakes when they occur.
- Security issues- Automation represents a digital system that administrates tons of sensitive business information. This can be a big issue if you don’t invest in high quality protection systems with state of the art safety mechanisms.