Distribution Sensors On the Cusp of New Performance Efficiencies

Distribution Sensors

The digital economy is strong with e-commerce accelerating at a better than 10 percent annual clip. That shift in buyer behavior draws attention to consumer technologies like smart phones and mobile commerce. However, when it comes to fulfilling orders for goods that connected consumers are snapping up, distribution centers are where the demands of the digital world run up against the realities of the physical one. 

In short, companies need to stay abreast of the latest technologies to flourish in the digital economy. 

Doing more with less continues to be a main challenge for distribution center managers

Managers reaffirm that cutting costs, increasing productivity, improving inventory management and refining process efficiencies top their list of operational goals.

Adoption of data capture technologies can lead to improved productivity and process efficiencies

Industrial and warehousing facilities use wireless technology as their primary Internet protocol. In fact, roughly three-fourths of those surveyed manage or plan to run Wi-Fi-based applications. They also use Ethernet-based networks for transferring large amounts of data and sending information requiring a higher security transmission.

Organizations are predominantly using barcoding solutions and handheld systems for their data capture applications. In addition, roughly one out of four also now use sensors, forklift computers or RFID technologies. Yet, distribution center managers feel that using barcode scanners and imaging technology, RFID systems and handhelds would increase accuracy in inventory and fulfillment data. Those surveyed see value in continuing to invest in traditional data collection solutions alongside growing interest in newer technologies such as RFID, sensors and voice picking.

However, costs for implementing, operating and maintaining warehouse technologies loom as the largest hurdle.

While usage of sensors is not yet mainstream, distribution center managers are thinking about them

Slightly more than one out of three of those surveyed currently use sensors in their DCs. In addition, one-fourth say that while they’re not presently using sensors they expect to implement sensor based applications during the next two years. Interestingly, over one-third claim that they have no plans to adopt sensors at the present time.

Outsourcing Manufacturing: A 20/20 View

Executive Brief Outsourcing Manufacturing

E2Open – January 2016 (SCMR)

Outsourcing manufacturing is becoming a well-established approach for companies that want to strategically manage materials in today’s fast-paced business environment. 

As a result, manufacturers see various benefits from outsourcing to reliable manufacturing and logistics partners. These include cost and asset reductions, access to skilled labor, third-party design, and manufacturing expertise. Along with the ability to quickly scale production up or down. Also an outsourcing strategy allows brand owners to focus on their core competencies. These include design, brand management, and sales, while relying on partners to manage manufacturing and distribution.

But has the promise of outsourcing truly been fulfilled over the past two decades? 

Because of this, Peerless Research Group (PRG), on behalf of Supply Chain Management Review and E2open, conducted a survey of 94 top supply chain executives in companies with US $250 million or more in annual revenues. The survey was commissioned to assess the current state and future plans for outsourcing manufacturing.

Researchers sought to better understand:

  • how companies outsource their tasks;
  • what the outsourcing forecasts look like for the next couple of years;
  • what level of visibility there is over the end-to-end process; and
  • how technology is being used to manage the process.

Finally, while feedback from respondents was varied, it’s clear that outsourcing is here to stay. Even with the current trends of reshoring, outsourcing remains a key strategy for most firms. While they may tactically “reshuffle” or re-balance in-house vs. outsourced manufacturing, there does not appear to be a wholesale move away from reliance on outsourcing. Read other executive briefs.