Technological advances have streamlined supply chains over the last 25 years, improving the speed and accuracy of delivery networks.
Businesses have had to invest in information technology to stay competitive. Warehouse management systems and barcode scanning were early innovations, reducing administration requirements and improving operational efficiency.
Modelling and analytical modules have extended these systems providing companies with sophisticated tools to optimise stock levels and even forecast demand.
Freight and logistics operators have also been quick to adopt data driven innovations. They have embraced GPS technology to track vehicles and use traffic data for route planning. The systems provide visibility throughout the process allowing customers to view the status of their delivery.
The growth of the internet and development of smart devices has facilitated online shopping. A direct impact of this has been the increased demand for distribution facilities close to consumers, in central city locations.
Automated solutions will be the next stage in how businesses manage inventory storage and distribution. Warehouse operations are already being disrupted by the development of advanced robotic systems such as unmanned forklifts. While not yet widespread it provides a glimpse of the future.