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How Technology Is Moving Sustainable Supply Chains Forward

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It doesn’t necessarily take an expert in supply chain management and operations to grasp that the world’s supply chains are changing at a profound rate. From greater efficiencies to more sustainable operations, to mass customization, supply chains are undergoing an evolution from nearly every angle. It can be enough to give a person whiplash.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest factors in this supply chain evolution is technology. New advances in tech have enabled supply chain managers to push the boundaries of what’s possible and deliver products with ease, even amidst some of the new and complex challenges facing the industry.

Technologies such as data analytics, smart tech, and automation are working together to take supply chains to the next level. They are being used to make businesses not only more effective but also more sustainable and more resilient to unforeseen changes in markets. All of this can be exceptionally beneficial going forward.

Big Technologies and Big Benefits

There are plenty of factors that are changing the supply chain management industry as we know it. Regardless of which factor you are looking at though, technology is playing a leading role in driving the change. For instance, when we think of increased customization in supply chains, advanced technologies such as 3D printing, smart devices, and high-level data management are ultimately what make it possible.

When talking about technology in the supply chain industry, it’s almost remiss not to mention the power artificial intelligence (AI) is having. AI technologies are taking automation to the next level by taking on some of the more complex tasks that standard technologies designed to handle repetitive functions haven’t been able to complete before. There is certainly an argument that this excludes humans from the process and costs jobs; however, it has become so mainstream that without it businesses can’t compete.

All of these advances in technology stand to make the supply chain industry a much safer and more efficient place. Ultimately, these benefits make their way to consumers — many of them we already see. The ability to order, pay for, and receive products within a couple of business days is a direct result of both AI and automation in the supply chain industry. It is hard to imagine what the next couple of decades will bring in further tech advancements.

Taking the Sustainable Route

Of course, all of these technologies are great for helping expand capitalism and promote incredible consumerism, but is there any way that they can also have a positive impact on the environment? Is it possible that they may also lead us towards a more sustainable future? Believe it or not, they actually can under the right circumstances.

Consumer demand has driven a greater focus towards sustainability for most companies. Looking at nearly any company website will lead to at least one webpage dedicated to the goals and achievements the company has made in the realm of sustainability. However, it is clear that in a deeply interconnected industry, without every partner focusing on equally sustainable goals there is only so much one company can do. This is especially relevant as you work down the supply chain closer to the source and raw materials.

Technology is playing a profound role in the advancements that have been made. For instance, AI tech has been incorporated to find inefficiencies in supply chains that can be eliminated or to search for alternatives to the current patterns that a supply chain is rutted in. It may be a slow process, but in the long run, tech such as this can help drive a much larger and much-needed shift in the way business is done.

A Bright Future

Going forward, there is a lot to look towards — the supply chain industry has a bright future. Although the interconnectivity of companies can create very real challenges with successfully introducing more sustainable initiatives, it can also have the opposite effect by encouraging companies to make bolder sustainability changes to stay in their partner’s good graces.

Technology can have a potentially more direct and immediate impact on singular factories or companies. Many are working to incorporate a connected factory model, which essentially strives to streamline interactions between human workers and machines to promote efficiency. A model such as this can ultimately work towards greater sustainability on a company level. 

Beyond that, customer demand is sure to continue to drive more focus on sustainability in the supply chain industry. Many consumers will openly admit that they strive to make purchases from companies that are making real efforts to be sustainable. With the mass customization movement taking hold of supply chains, there is more power than ever in these demands.

Technology is having an incredible impact on nearly every aspect of supply chain management. One of the ways that tech is making a difference is through its ability to promote and incorporate more sustainable initiatives into the… Click To Tweet

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Technology is having an incredible impact on nearly every aspect of supply chain management. One of the ways that tech is making a difference is through its ability to promote and incorporate more sustainable initiatives into the industry. Although it is certainly a challenge that won’t go away any time soon, with technology and customer demand working together, we are making strides in a very positive direction. 

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