The Role of Technology in Modern Supply Chains

Do you know of any industry without a technological disruption lately? I bet there is one. The emergence of technology is bringing about changes and innovations to the structure and processes of many industries and businesses.  The supply chain is one industry at the forefront of these innovations. Before now, organizations in the supply chain relied majorly on spreadsheets and human analyses for record-keeping and planning. However, the demand for an accurate delivery system and real-time tracking necessitates using technology in the ever-competitive industry. Communication is a vital aspect of the supply chain.

 The free flow of information from suppliers to companies and customers is an offshoot of technology. It makes it easier to reach the global market, which has a tremendous impact on the chain. A data chain exists in all supply chains. It is a complex chain that houses all the data collected from the supply chain processes. These data sometimes are not accurately analyzed and interpreted to the benefit of the company by the persons that handle them. 

That’s understandable. Humans are often prone to errors. The industry needs highly sophisticated technological solutions to efficiently manage these data. Blockchain technology, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are emerging technologies being considered in the supply chain. 

What do these technologies have to offer the modern supply chain? Let’s see.

Supply Chains–-a brief Outlook


A typical supply chain starts with sourcing raw materials. Depending on the industry, it could mean mining diamonds, manufacturing metal, curing leather, or extracting latex. The raw materials are sold to manufacturers by wholesalers who use them to create products, which a retailer picks up to deliver to the final consumer. That is a simple picture. But hey, it’s more complicated than you think. Each step in the process is broad because it involves planning, creating, packaging, shipping, and delivery, which could be cumbersome if the right strategies still need to be implemented.

The supply chain is a chain of distribution that involves quite several stages. In a typical supply chain, you’d see a network of individuals or organizations concerned with different stages of production. While some organizations primarily concern themselves with the manufacturing in the chain, others bother about how these goods get to the final consumers. This is what the above means in simple terms–links on the chain first start with the producers of the raw materials and don’t end until the delivery van gets the finished product to the final consumers. 

An efficient supply chain is a combination of all of these components:

  • Producers
  • Warehouses
  • Vendors
  • Distribution centers
  • Transportation companies
  • Retailers. 
  • Final consumers

There is no doubt the supply chain industry is experiencing massive growth, mainly when the world is amid stunning technological shifts. In a 2022 report by Zappia, the global supply chain market size value was put at $15.85 billion. 

In another report, the global supply chain market will experience a CAGR of 11.2% from 2020 to 2027. What do these statistics tell us? It means the industry is growing, and there’s a need for a shift from manual, and traditional error-prone mechanisms, to automated and optimized systems. According to Gitnux, over 50% of companies believe that increased digitization and automation will shoot up supply chains in the area of:

  •  Product development
  • Operations
  • Distribution
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Customer service

With all these in place, they’d experience more production cycles, lower costs, and improve their supply chains to remain competitive. 

The Role of Technology in Modern supply chains

1. Technology simplifies the weighing and shipping process

The supply chain industry continues to snowball, and the demand for next-day and two-day shipping has become popular. Manufacturing companies, logistics companies, and warehouses clamor for speed. Mobile weighing technologies provide convenient weighing at the point of loading and unloading. They are an alternative to the traditional static weighing scales.  With portable weighing scales, you do not need to transport products from loading and unloading areas to weighing scales with forklifts and pallet jacks. All the time-consuming manual processes can be reduced.

 Weighing technologies are also helpful for the trucking industry. They are: 

  • Weighbridge truck scales
  • On-board truck scales
  • Portable truck scales

It is also important that as more logistics companies clamor for speed of delivery, a trailer interchange insurance is put in place in the case of any accident or mishaps.

2. Makes effective planning and scheduling in production possible

Technology plays an essential role in production and manufacturing. The production stage is the planning stage, where big data comes into play and needs even the minutest details to plan and align the operations. 

While planning is linked with all the major supply chain stages, it starts from the production stage. 

In the bid for an effective production process, manufacturing companies must have insights into their current set of in-production products and envisage potential hiccups or delays that could surface so they’d properly align production schedules accordingly. Technology brings transparency into the whole process. With it, production companies can control their product and information flow better. As a matter of fact, data needs to be consistently gotten from the software that manages these processes. 

For example, analyzing data from the warehouse management system(WMS) will assist in planning the inventory and running manufacturing smoothly. Similarly, data from enterprise resource planning(ERP) will give an overview of orders, giving the system an insight into market demands.

We see a vivid example in the chemical and paint industry. BASF, a German producer of paints, started to use machine learning technology to interpret customers’ requirements while giving inputs to the production department to prepare the colors according to the required compositions by the clients. 

3. Technology strengthens the order tracking and delivery process

Whether you agree or not, the end-users are at the receiving end of all supply chain processes, and they determine the twist and turns of the industry. If the customers at the receiving end are satisfied, you can retain them to patronize the business repeatedly. Customers want timely delivery of products, and technological solutions play a critical role in increasing the speed of delivery. It also keeps the customers informed about the product delivery schedule. 

With diverse delivery tracking software and apps made available by IOT, you can keep customers informed from when they ordered their goods to when it was delivered. When they can track their orders, they have increased control and satisfaction. 

4. Technology for reduction of waste in packaging and cartonization

There are technological solutions that can calculate the ideal carton size for orders. These solutions can eliminate supply chain waste and remove the guesswork from selecting an accurate number of containers for packaging and shipping. When the wrong carton size is selected for a product—small or large, it leads to back-tracking to repeat tasks. Cases where a carton that’s too large to use is utilized, packaging material waste is recorded, and higher shipping costs are incurred. 

The most advanced cartonization software solutions consider weight. It doesn’t just end at calculating if the items in order fit in a carton. They also consider the most cost-effective ways to pack orders while considering labor costs for order picking and carrier dimensional weight rates.

5. Sourcing and supplier management software for market intelligence

You can find and retain adequate suppliers for your activities with sourcing and supplier management software. A market intelligence feature also helps the procurement team act more strategically. With market intelligence for sourcing, purchasing managers can make informed decisions with better insights into market dynamics, lead times, pricing, and raw material trends. 

The procurement department can also have a live assessment of the network of potential suppliers according to the current trends of supplies. Often, these details can be used during supplier negotiations. According to IoT Analytics, sourcing, and supplier management software would have a growth rate of +10% CAGR from 2021 to 2027. More companies would re-assess their sourcing strategies and employ newer technology innovations such as market intelligence tools.

Technology in the modern supply chain– a gradual but eventual process 

 It is important to note that transitioning into newer technologies could be hard for some corporations. No doubt, technology makes processes in the supply chain easier. 

However, its non-static, never-ending, and ever-changing nature may be challenging for companies investing heavily in older technologies. It could also be a financial burden for relatively minor companies to quickly transition into. When technology is fully adopted in the supply chain, processes can be sped up, and real-time information is enhanced amongst the key stakeholders, which also translates into satisfying the end-users.


Author’s Bio

Ale Oluwatobi Emmanuel is a freelance SEO content writer for SaaS and web 3 brands. With several published by-lines on notable tech websites, he’s passionate about tech, and the innovations that come with it. In his leisure, he listens to music and plays classical piano. Reach Ale via


Photo credits: Coworking London