People are spoiled these days. In today’s fast-paced, consumer-driven world, it’s very easy to take for granted the vast and intricate supply chain networks that ensure the availability of goods and services that are at our fingertips. If you are one of the few people that actually do know a thing or two about the industrial supply chain, you may be interested in some of the exciting advancements and trends going on within the supply chain industry. Here are a few of the top industrial supply chain technology trends that we should expect to see in the coming years:
Technology within industrial supply chain operations has become irreplaceable when it comes to making things more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable. These things are very important due to the fact that we have industries like chemicals, oil and gas, and transportation that require efficient coordination and management. These industries are what keep the economy going and a lot of people depend on them.
How Has The Supply Chain Changed In The Last Decade?
Before we dive into the technology trends for 2023 and beyond, it’s important to go over what has been happening in the last decade. In the past 10 years, the supply chain sector has experienced a big transformation due to technological advancements. These advances include automation, big data analytics, and blockchain technology.
Starting around 2010, it was known that analytics was going to be a big part of the supply chain. However, the computing power we had back then didn’t match what we have now and the ability to process massive amounts of data was still in its infancy.
Now that computing power is up to par, it’s almost hard to keep up with all the different analytics and technology options that are available within the industrial supply chain. With this said, let’s take a look at some of the top trends that we can expect to see in 2023 and beyond.
Digitalization of Supply Chains
Manual processes are no longer the norm when it comes to supply chains. Companies that don’t get on board with the digitalization of their supply chains will find themselves quickly falling behind the competition. The integration of Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices is revolutionizing industries by connecting machines, sensors, and systems to facilitate seamless communication and data exchange. There are many benefits to this such as:
- Improving efficiency by implementing digital solutions for various aspects of the supply chain.
- Enhancing visibility by offering real-time tracking and monitoring throughout the supply chain, providing increased transparency.
- Reducing Costs: When you have a good digital process in place, it minimizes errors and gets rid of long tedious manual processes, which reduces the costs associated with operations.
- Sustainability: Last but not least, the digitalization of supply chains could significantly contribute to sustainability due to the fact that when you optimize your inventory correctly, you reduce waste and overstocking.
Now that we’ve covered the broad benefits of the digitalization of supply chains. Let’s dive into each industrial sector to see how these trends are being applied.
Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry is constantly evolving. Digitalization has been transforming the oil and gas industry by leveraging technology to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and also enhance safety.
The industry is optimizing operations, monitoring assets, and improving production performance through the use of sensors and data analytics. Real-time data from sensors allows for better equipment monitoring, anomaly detection, and maintenance practices improvement.
Data analytics optimizes production rates, reduces downtime, and enhances safety. Additionally, digitalization enhances collaboration and communication within the industry, as remote collaboration tools enable engineers, geologists, and other professionals to work together more effectively, improving coordination and decision-making across different locations and teams.
The rapid adoption of digital technologies, such as advanced sensors, automation, and data analytics, allows chemical companies to optimize production processes, minimize waste, and enhance product quality.
One technological advance that the chemical industry is adopting is digital twin technology, which creates a virtual replica of a physical system or process. This allows for real-time monitoring and simulation, helping to optimize processes and reduce waste.
Additionally, digitalization also enhances safety by reducing the risk of incidents within chemical plants.
Digitalization ensures supply chain security, minimizing the risks of disruption and interruptions. In an industry that relies heavily on paper-based processes, digitalization allows for increased visibility, agility, and efficiency by transitioning to digital supply chains. Furthermore, leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) in transportation and logistics enables better asset management, inventory tracking, and data-driven decision-making.
Ultimately, digitalization enables companies to close information gaps, achieve information excellence, and transform their business to better engage customers and face industry challenges.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm in all aspects of life. This includes the industrial supply chain. Below we will go into more detail on how AI and ML can be used in the industrial supply chain.
Predictive Analytics For Inventory Management
AI and machine learning can analyze historical data and make things easier for you in the future. The ability to predict fluctuations in demand allows companies to make smart decisions about production and other important aspects of their supply chain.
AI-Driven Route Optimization For Transportation
AI-powered algorithms could analyze real-time traffic data, weather conditions, and other factors that have to do with the transportation of goods. Being able to do this helps figure out efficient routes which helps reduce fuel costs, lessen the time it takes to deliver, and decrease operational costs overall.
Not only is it good for your business, but it’s also good for driver safety due to the fact that the less time drivers are on the road, the safer they are.
Machine Learning For Quality Control and Process Optimization
AI and Machine learning could be used to analyze data from various sensors and systems, detect anomalies via machine learning algorithms, predict equipment failures, and optimize processes. This makes it extremely easy for companies to actively address their issues, enhance the quality of their product, and reduce downtime.
Gas and Oil Industry Applications For Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Drilling automation: AI-driven systems can automate the drilling process, improving precision and reducing the risk of human error.
- Predictive maintenance: AI algorithms can monitor equipment health and predict potential failures, allowing for proactive maintenance and minimizing downtime.
- Real-time monitoring With AI: AI can analyze data from various sensors in real time, enabling operators to monitor equipment and processes more effectively and make data-driven decisions. This includes being able to monitor oil production and detect anomalies.
- Drones For Inspections: Drones are being used in the oil and gas industry to inspect pipelines, oil rigs, and other equipment. This is not only cost-efficient, but it also helps improve safety by reducing the need for human inspections in dangerous environments.
Chemical Industry Applications
- Quality control: AI-powered systems can identify defects and inconsistencies in chemical products, ensuring high-quality standards and minimizing waste.
- Process optimization: AI can analyze production data to optimize processes, reducing energy consumption and improving overall efficiency.
- Real-time monitoring of chemical reactions: AI can monitor chemical reactions in real time, helping operators identify potential issues and optimize reaction conditions.
Transportation Industry Applications
- Route optimization: AI-driven algorithms can analyze traffic, weather, and other factors to determine the most efficient routes, reducing fuel consumption and delivery times.
- Dispatching: AI can help optimize dispatching decisions, ensuring the best use of resources and improving the overall efficiency of transportation operations.
- Predictive maintenance of vehicles: AI can monitor vehicle health and predict potential issues, enabling proactive maintenance and minimizing downtime.
- Rail Industry: Digitalization and automation are transforming rail transport by increasing efficiency, safety, and reducing costs. IoT technology is being used to collect and analyze data in real time, allowing for predictive maintenance and repair of trains, tracks, and signals. This reduces downtime, improves safety, and enhances customer satisfaction. Additionally, autonomous trains are being developed to increase efficiency, optimize routes, and reduce fuel consumption.
Blockchain technology is transforming the supply chain industry by providing a secure and transparent way to track products from the manufacturer to the end customer.
Blockchain can be used to create a tamper-proof record of every transaction in the supply chain, providing visibility into the movement of goods and reducing the risk of fraud. Blockchain can also be used to improve supply chain sustainability by tracking the environmental impact of products.
Just like the other technological advances, let’s dive into how blockchain technology could help with the oil & gas, chemicals, and transportation industries.
Blockchain in Oil & Gas: Revolutionizing Supply Chain, Trade, and Contract Execution
Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the oil & gas sector by enhancing supply chain management, streamlining physical commodity trading, enabling sensor-driven invoicing, and improving contract execution. Blockchain can increase security, reduce trade times, and provide a trustworthy source of information between counterparties, leading to improved operational efficiency and reduced risk.
Blockchain in the Chemical Industry: Enhancing Supply Chain Transparency and Product Quality
Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the chemical industry by improving supply chain transparency and ensuring product quality. By utilizing blockchain, businesses can track processed chemicals from raw materials to manufacturing and delivery, providing a comprehensive and tamper-proof record of the entire supply chain. This leads to increased trust, automated processes, and streamlined operations.
Blockchain in Industrial Transportation: Improving Tracking, Efficiency, and Security
Blockchain technology has the potential to transform the trucking, logistics, and freight industries in various ways. By offering better freight tracking, secure data authentication, and improved efficiency, blockchain can help address some of the key challenges these industries face. The integration of blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) can further optimize capacity monitoring, vehicle performance tracking, and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.
Additionally, blockchain-enabled smart contracts can reduce administrative costs and increase supply chain liquidity, while providing a more reliable and transparent platform for load boards.
Overall, blockchain technology has the potential to significantly enhance the industrial transportation sector, leading to cost savings and streamlined operations.
Future Impact Of These Technological Trends
Now that we’ve taken a look at the past decade, along with trends that are prevalent right now, let’s dive into the future and explore the potential impact that these trends may have.
Increasing the Adoption and Development of Technology
As technology continues to advance, more and more businesses will invest in digitalization and automation across the supply chain. As the technology gets better, efficiency will increase, costs will go down, and improved sustainability in supply chain management will also improve.
If you’ve paid attention to recent trends, AI and machine learning are growing very fast. ChatGPT has taken the world by storm and people are doing pretty cool things with it. When it comes to different industries AI and machine learning are only going to get stronger. This will lead to increased efficiency and cost savings. The use of blockchain technology will become commonplace, providing enhanced security and transparency in the supply chain. Last but not least, the integration of various technologies such as IoT, AI, and blockchain will lead to improved accuracy in data collection.
Enhanced Collaboration and Communication
As digital platforms become much more advanced, they will enable better collaboration and communication amongst supply chain partners. This will allow decision-makers to make faster decisions.
Stronger Focus On Sustainability and Circular Economy
As supply chain visibility improves, companies will be able to track the environmental and social impact of their operations. This will increase the chances that companies will start to adopt more sustainable practices and adopt circular economy models. This in turn will lead to cost savings and reduced waste.
More Resilient Supply Chains
Over the last couple of years, supply chains have hit significant challenges. The combination of the technological trends we’ve mentioned will result in a more resilient and agile supply chain. Disruptions like COVID and others will be less impactful, as supply chain leaders will have the data and visibility to quickly respond.
Different Job Structure
Despite the possibility of job losses, technological advancements in the supply chain will create new job opportunities. To succeed in these new roles, workers will need to have strong technical skills, as they will mainly involve data analysis and system management.
How PLG Could Help
At PLG, we stay up to date on all supply chain technologies to help our clients get the most out of their operations. Our team has decades of experience in a wide range of industries, including green energy, chemicals, oil and gas, and more. We can help you improve operations, reduce costs, penetrate markets, mitigate risk, and invest wisely.
Let’s start the conversation today and elevate your business to new heights with our comprehensive services, covering supply chain design, market analysis, due diligence, logistics procurement, and more. Get in touch with us now and discover the difference we can make across various industries and supply chain functions!