Right now, many organisations are caught inside a perfect storm of supply chain pressures.
Since early 2020, there’s been a noticeable rise in orders and deliveries. This means that many online retailers have experienced considerable growth within their business. In fact, the total online retail sales growth for 2020 was up 36% year-on-year – the highest annual growth seen since 20071. This has driven intense competition around fulfilment to the point where often same day delivery has overtaken next day delivery as the accepted and expected standard by customers.
Organisations are struggling to produce items as quickly as we’re consuming them and, in turn, this is making it harder to source the raw materials. Recently, unheard-of shortages in microchips have forced several large car manufacturers to temporarily stop production at huge, but unavoidable, cost. There are other factors at play as well, such as the lack of delivery drivers and increased freight costs, all pushing organisations to find new ways to maintain productivity while increasing efficiency and reducing overheads.
So, how can companies collaborate effectively and limit the impact of future supply chain disruptions?
Building supply chain resilience
In this challenging environment, empowering your workforce by connecting them with the right technology is now vitally important. This means deploying a range of technologies along your supply chain that can transform operations and help deliver a competitive advantage:
Automated solutions: In the warehouse, automated and intelligent management software can now improve connection and drive efficiency further by optimising warehouse space and accelerating picking and packing. Providing as many staff as possible with access to these platforms on their mobile devices, and placing RFID tags and codes onto items to be digitally tracked, will help to sync up your supply chain.
Next-generation voice technology: Using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) over your facility’s wi-fi network will enable voice-guided workflows, boosting productivity and minimising errors by directing your staff through headsets during tasks such as picking and packing. It will also make sure that your workforce is properly connected with the right tools to communicate effectively across the warehouse and all the way across your supply chain.
Advanced robotics: Today, organisations are even using robotic systems to automate racking and move boxes around intelligently. By using sensors and scanners across the warehouse, automated sortation can consolidate, separate and route products to their individual destinations and even identify ways to maximise throughput rates.
Supply chain analysis: To stay one step ahead, analysis tools can take in factors like weather, traffic, and even seismic data, to predict where supply networks might be affected and, if necessary, make alternative plans. Plus, predictive maintenance can alert manufacturers to potential disruptions to production lines before they cause any downtime.
Longstanding experience in the industry
At Honeywell we’re committed to solving your organisation’s toughest challenges, which is why we’re always developing and improving our solutions. Alongside BT, we create products for hard manufacturing environments right down to the shop floor – combining our hands-on experience with BT’s longstanding expertise in secure software and network connectivity.
Our Mobility EdgeTM platform is a unified hardware and software platform for Honeywell mobile computers, and it’s like nothing else in the industry. A lot of research tells us that customers want mobile devices they can use without worry or hassle, for as long as possible. They don’t want to have to keep getting new devices just to handle the next software update. Mobility Edge is the result of a multimillion-dollar R&D investment by Honeywell and a collaboration with our microprocessor chip providers, along with the Google Android team. Coupled with our Flexrange scan engine technology, it enables the scan engine to read from any distance up to 30ft – reducing the number of devices required across the warehouse floor. At the same time, it’s also improving occupational health and productivity by allowing staff to just point at barcodes on items at a distance, rather than moving and picking up heavy products. Also, Honeywell Voice solutions can enable a voice directive tool that guides staff and reduces the potential for human mistakes.
If you’d like to find out more about the range of solutions we have available and how they might benefit your supply chain, please get in touch.
1Retail Gazette, Online retail sales growth hit 13-year high in 2020, 2021