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The evolving role of robots in the supply chain


Although robots have been a part of the manufacturing supply chain for quite some time, their role has been traditionally relegated to the shop or warehouse floor. Their adoption in other areas of the supply chain has been particularly slow, based on a variety of frictional hurdles such as size, cost and relative task-inflexibility.

However, as technologies have advanced, so too have robots’ roles in the streamlining of supply chain processes. As tactile movements and sensors have gotten better, for example, robots are now equipped to do much more than simple “brute-force” assembly or sorting operations in factories and warehouses. International courier company, DHL, actively integrates robots into its supply chain, demonstrating that robots can work side-by-side with employees. Combining physical robots with software applications such as machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms is the best way to capitalize on emerging automation technologies.

In fact, current and future business leaders need to understand and embrace the trends of automation, digitization and technological solutions to traditional business problems. Anything else is akin to burying one’s head in the sand. The supply chain of the future must evolve to capitalize on emerging technologies.

Of course, automation takes many forms, and the emergence of intelligent robots in the workplace is only one of the more obvious examples. No matter the level of technological adoption in your business, you can always take stock of current supply chain processes that can be digitized and automated, such as payments and invoicing. The reduction in costs associated with eliminating points of friction in your payments process may provide the catalyst for further technological advancements within your organization.


About the author

Connie O'Brien

As CMO, Connie is responsible for the Tungsten Network brand and ensuring the firm is at the forefront of the digital transformation of the purchase-to-pay process, with a focus on how we delight our customers through automated, scalable, dynamic and personalised experiences. Connie joined Tungsten from Affinion Group, an international membership and loyalty company where she was Chief Digital Officer. She has over twenty years’ experience driving digital marketing strategies for businesses, and has delivered campaigns for brands including GlaxoSmithKline, P&G, Kraft Foods, AXA, John Hancock, AT&T, Vonage and Verizon.


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