RFID, for example, or with some sort of handheld unit tracking things like onsite orders and deliveries.Mobile technology has been implemented in the supply chain of many businesses today - in warehouses and in retail stores, for instance. But it's not entirely a new phenomenon, as many of these organizations have utilized mobile technologies for a number of years, via tracking through
Arguably then, it's not simply the mobile hardware itself that is changing the supply chain, but it's the ability to integrate information from these mobile devices with other aspects of business analytics - and to do so in real time.
The International Business Series is brought to you by UPS. Discover the new logistics. It levels the playing fields and lets you act locally or globally. It's for the individual entrepreneur, the small business or the large company. Put the new logistics to work for you.
The Benefits of Mobile on the Supply Chain
In other words, rather than batch processing the data downloaded from these mobile devices at the end of the day, mobile communications - via wireless or 3G, for example - are "always on," greatly increasing accuracy and efficiency. Mobile technologies have helped companies optimize resource location and allocation. And this, combined with real-time information, has been important not just in the retail sector, but in areas like healthcare, where the stakes to efficiently connect people and medicine are even higher.
But to date most of the efforts in combining mobile technology and the supply chain have occurred around inventory management and the delivery of goods.
"If you go back five years ago, GPS and status tracking for fleet trucks was largely done by hard-wiring devices in trucks," says Descartes Systems Group's senior VP Ken Wood in an interview for World Trade Magazine. "This was expensive. Now, with the advent of inexpensive mobile devices that not only track but run sophisticated delivery and mobile worker applications, enterprises are really jumping on mobile-enabling this part of the supply chain. There is especially growing interest in driver-interactive mobile."
It isn't simply a matter of tracking drivers, tracking trucks, or tracking resources. The benefits of real-time information from mobile devices can also help the people along the supply chain with real-time communication. Mobile tools can provide communication and collaboration in order to solve problems that arise along the supply chain.
And as companies find ways to expand the implementation of mobile, we'll probably see additional areas of focus beyond just delivery of goods, so that sales and service representatives can also connect to the mobile supply chain.