Supply Chain Technology: What’s Coming Online?

Supply Chain Technology:  What’s Coming Online?

The next wave of supply chain technology includes exciting innovations such as closed AI systems, non-human customers, edge processing, and LEO satellites. Are you ready?

Technology for transportation, warehousing, and order fulfillment gets a lot of buzz. But here are a few developments you may not have heard of yet.

AI-crafted large language models understand and produce human language answers to questions. But very soon, custom closed AI systems will pre-fill the documents—compliance forms, drawback forms, claims forms, you name it—required to manage global supply chains.

This breakthrough in automation will simplify and streamline repetitive form submissions based on your business rules, all driven by a custom and closed large language AI system.

Combining and blending several strains of artificial intelligence regimes has empowered not only humans, but virtual bots as well by creating non-human customers that place orders, replenish inventory, and monitor quality—all without human intervention.

Bipedal humanoid robots moving boxes around the warehouse generated plenty of media excitement and tests are underway. But that is not where the action is, yet. Inbound Logistics has covered solid examples of non-human robots energizing DCs, warehouses, and fulfillment centers and amping ROI.

But having hundreds or thousands of robots in large distribution centers creates some drawbacks. Even after factoring in implementation costs, the expense of maintaining local WiFi tone and remote bandwidth needed to process the data driving the bot activity is a challenge. Large DCs need multiple hotspots, but when placed close together they interfere with each other. That drives robots crazy.

Is there another technology available to address these challenges? A huge retailer is reportedly testing “for dense and hyper dense wireless deployments within an indoor commercial warehouse” that will run thousands of bots in a mega DC without hotspot interference, and with fewer demands for off-site data management. It is empowered by something called “at the edge processing.” That’s where constant reliable web tone, combined with AI and bots, lessens the demands on remote server activities by lighting up more on-site decisions. An additional bonus is the ability to have inbound communications with a very large private fleet. Is all that possible?

Yes. Elon Musk has an answer: low earth orbit (LEO) satellite 5G tone as an alternative to WiFi tone. His Starlink project has plans for up to 42,000 satellites in LEO to provide global broadband for applications inside huge warehouses and anywhere across the globe.

It is exciting times for global supply chain operations.