Augmented Reality (AR)
Essentially, AR is when computer-generated media is used to alter the view of the world. It uses a screen to project augmentations onto our real-life world.
But what does this mean for the supply chain? With inventions like Google Glass and Microsoft’s Hololens, you can display info to workers in real-time. This gives employees complete visibility into their work environment. They will know when items ship, arrive, and any other important details they need while on the job.
Moreover, you can show critical info to employees as they interact with physical objects. For example, let’s say an employee wearing digital glasses scans barcodes as they work. They can use the digital glasses as a guide to find product locations. AR can make the warehouse hand-free, enhancing work performance.
Earlier this year, SK-Electronics developed the world’s smallest RFID tag. It is so tiny that it can fit the back of an ant. RFID is only going to improve in the coming years, and will become more prevalent in the supply chain then it is today. Tags will be able to carry more data, scan at further distances, decrease in size, etc. All these and more will increase their use across different industries.
Currently, RFID technology is on the high end of the price scale. Like most technology, we can expect this hefty price to drop as RFID tags become more common in the supply chain. As costs decline and usability increases, this will become the standard for product tracking. Future tags will be able to send real-time data directly to your inventory management system. Where is the item? Is there damage to it? You can know all this, as well as increased details about each product, visibility, and theft protection.
A large move in RFID will be its integration with the cloud. Tag data will be stored in the cloud, which will allow RFID to send and receive in real-time. As a result, your system will be updated and easy to access from wherever you or your employees are located.
This is the process of printing out tangible objects in a 3D form using metal, plastic and various other materials. Precise and quick, 3D printing makes production more efficient. It is already in use for the creation of automobile and aerospace parts to reduce time and costs.
Where does supply chain come in? 3D printing could shake up how we traditionally view the supply chain. Manufacturing can happen locally, drastically cutting down on lead times and transportation costs. Local manufacturing will cause the supply chain to shrink, and will eliminate some parts of the chain. A shorter supply chain could reduce the need for logistics. As a result, it could lessen wastage that comes with transportation and production. This has the ability to allow firms to maximize efficiency.
In addition, 3D printing allows for enhanced customization. One example of this is could be the production and distribution of custom guitar parts. Right now, spare parts such as guitar knobs/switches are produced and shipped from an overseas supplier. With 3D printing, customers could send custom orders to local guitar shops with printers. This would not only lessen the time of shipping, but also allow users to customize parts in many ways.
Customization gives the consumer more control over the products they purchase and the ability to put their own touch on them. By empowering the consumer, this would in turn lead to repeat purchases and customer loyalty.