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Supply Chain Technology & the Benefits of 5G

What Is Supply Chain Technology?

Supply chain technology offers great opportunities to streamline the supply chain process. Some examples of supply chain technology include the following:

  • Connected fleets of trucks
  • Remote controlled vehicles
  • Smart shelves with IoT sensors
  • Real-time visibility with computer vision
  • Process automation and robotics

Rise of Supply Chain Technology

Behind the scenes, advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and 5G are paving the way for more efficient and profitable supply chains across the globe.

Unlike other areas of business, larger supply chains have been quick to adopt new technologies to improve their supply chain performance. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw supply chains struggle to retain staff while facing serious delays from overseas partners. These challenges have forced some supply chains to explore alternative technologies, such as robotics automation and autonomous / remote controlled vehicles, and dive deep into their data to find more efficient alternatives.

Benefits of Supply Chain Technology

Before we explore examples of supply chain technology, let’s touch on the benefits it can provide supply chain businesses.

Reduce Expenditures

Large supply chains can be incredibly complex, with unnecessary links and redundant data connected through a patchwork of technology. Supply chain technology software can help managers visualize their supply chains and take advantage of artificial intelligence to eliminate unnecessary links and optimize routes.

Automation also plays a large role in reducing supply chain costs. Recently, advancements in private 5G now enable logistic companies to build their own private network to support their fleet of autonomous vehicles and robotics. While robotics typically result in a larger CAPEX they tend to pay for themselves in a few years and provide supply chains with reliable continuous labor.

In many cases, 5G acts as the communication backbone for data collection and transmission across the supply chain. Until recently, organizations had to rely on commercial carriers that had full control over their network resources and cellular budget - even if the connected device was part of a private setting within a factory, shipping yard or a warehouse.

Private 5G helps supply chains eliminate the need to rely on a public cellular network for use cases that are present within such facilities and reduce their operational costs by owning their own network. It also ensures communication for critical applications at low latency and at the level of security that many supply chain industries rightfully demand. 

Platforms like Celona’s 5G LAN solution make this process simple through plug-and-play cellular access point hardware that integrates into your own infrastructure, much like how your IT department controls your Wi-Fi network.

Compared to Wi-Fi, private cellular covers up to 10x the physical space on a per access point basis, enables latency / throughput guarantees for critical applications and devices; as a result, improving speed of deployment and overall network availability. 

Improve Efficiency

Supply chain technology can improve efficiency by providing a simplified look at your complex data structure. For example, artificial intelligence can monitor different supply chain routes and tell you exactly how each is performing. It can even combine real-time and historical data to give you an accurate estimate of future performance metrics.

Technology like root cause analysis leverages AI to help IT and maintenance teams identify the cause of certain problems so they can be fixed more quickly. For example, root cause analysis can save an IT team hours of downtime by quickly pinpointing where a misconfiguration was made, and pairing it with a suggested fix based on completed tickets.

Better Decision-Making

Supply chains generate a lot of data, but few companies know how to transform that data into actionable information. Now through simplified interfaces and automated data processing companies can collect all of their data and create workflows to extract meaningful metrics.

For example, supply chains can monitor all of their distribution centers and sales channels for a real-time overview of sales and inventory trends. Predictive monitoring via low latency wireless communications enabled with private 5G can help analyze such metrics in real-time and send alerts, or even generate an order to resupply centers that are running low on products.

This same technology can be used to predict trends through predictive analytics. For example, you can estimate how much product each center will need based on previous sales data. This ability to forecast demand helps keep your supply chain flowing and predict your operating expenses during peak production periods.

How Supply Chain Technology Works

Modern supply chain technology works by collecting, processing, and transforming data into insights for both people and automation platforms.

Data Collection

Supply chains can generate hundreds of points of data, from product location to inventory levels, and these metrics can be monitored and processed to uncover hidden opportunities and optimizations.

From a software perspective, APIs are used to share information between systems. For example, an API connection between your fleet tracking system and customer portal can allow customers to see exactly when they’ll receive their order.

Many supply chains also leverage IoT technology to collect data from within their business. IoT sensors can monitor inventory levels, product location, environmental conditions, and more. This data is often transmitted over cellular networks or Wi-Fi where it is sent to a server for processing.

Data Processing

Collected data arrives at a server where it can be processed and analyzed. Typically artificial intelligence and data processing software can extract insights and performance metrics during this stage. In many cases, the server also has an interface for managers and data analysts. Artificial intelligence plays a major role during the processing stage by automatically applying different algorithms and formulas to extract insights from your collected data.

Data Transformation

Lastly, data transformation transforms simple insights into business intelligence, allowing supply chain managers to make smarter decisions. Predictive analytics, future forecasting, and risk analysis models are all examples of how simple data points can be transformed into business intelligence.

Private 5G: The Backbone of Future Supply Chains

Taking a data-driven approach to supply chain technology requires a reliable, flexible, and predictable network to collect data. Many logistics companies and enterprises are turning to private 5G to provide blanket coverage across their warehouses and targeted coverage to mission-critical systems.

Private 5G enables businesses to harness the coverage, performance, and reliability of 5G without the restricting contracts and lack of control commercial carriers offer. By integrating it into your IT infrastructure, administrators can collect and process supply chain data on their own cellular networks, allowing for better data privacy and guaranteed integration with their existing systems.

Celona’s Supply Chain Solution

Celona provides enterprise organizations with their own private 5G networks as a seamless turnkey 5G LAN solution. Through the simple yet powerful architecture, organizations can easily deploy plug-and-play cellular access point hardware throughout their environment to receive insights in hours, not days. 

With Celona, supply chain leaders can save up to 70% in operating and capital expenses compared to alternative solutions. They can do so while delivering return on investment for the solution within as early as 5 months given the eliminated downtime for digital operations and critical applications. 

Celona’s 5G LAN solution integrates directly with your existing architecture allowing administrators to easily synchronize quality of service policies across the enterprise from a cloud-based operations console. Behind the scenes, the Celona Edge provides proactive monitoring and ensures network service-level objectives, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.

Celona uses cloud networking principles to make implementing 5G LANs an out-of-the-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your supply chain, Celona can help. Check out our network planner to estimate the size of your 5G LAN on private cellular spectrum, or test-drive Celona’s unique solution for yourself with a free trial.

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