Saving Supermarket Supply Chains with IIoT

With these technologies, managers can make decisions in a snap and proactively identify and mitigate risks associated with delays, ensuring timely delivery of goods.

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Shortages are another blow to supermarkets right now who are already battling the relentless cost-of-living crisis that is squeezing consumers wallets. Many supermarkets are trying to bridge the gap for shoppers, with U.K. shops like Waitrose recently announcing a reduction of an average of 14% on their essentials range last month. With problems mounting, supermarkets are struggling to keep shelves full and customers coming in.

Every section of a supply chain has a part to play, and when there is a kink in the chain the whole network struggles. Facing disruption after disruption, the cracks are beginning to show. Now is the time to look towards to solutions of the future. The technology to overcome such problems has been around for years – so what are we waiting for? 

Technology is the ideal co-worker for warehouses 

Labor shortages have come to be a constant anxiety for supply chains, whether it be due to Brexit, the pandemic or simply having to cut back on costs. The gaps in the workforce paired with ongoing disruptions has not only slowed deliveries and distribution, but it also has increased burden on existing staff. 52% of workers in the logistics sector felt like not enough is being done to tackle wellbeing, and when workers are in high demand and short supply, retention becomes critical.  

We used to think that the year 2000 would bring hover cars and a personal robot to cater to our every need. Whilst we’re still not quite at that point yet, technology has seamlessly woven itself into our day to day lives and become a helpful, and essential, companion. We can pay for shopping with our watches, but warehouses have been much slower to adopt wearable tech.  

Light and unnoticeable, wearables can become like an extra limb for workers, and the ideal co-worker to help streamline their job. Wearables, connected through IIoT help keep workers focused on the tasks they need to do, as the software can proactively detect problems in infrastructure and fast identifying vulnerabilities. With less time-consuming distractions workers can remain productive and not feel overburdened.  

We’ve all been guilty of putting an important letter down, and then completely forgetting where it was left – we’re human and it’s only natural. Now imagine, the same but in a large, bustling warehouse. Imagine not just one letter, but piles on piles of forms. Mobile devices with IIoT can submit reports, such as on damaged items, with photographs and collect that data which can all be sent to the relevant department from one device, automating the report completion, so workers are supported and remain productive.  

Streamlining is essential, especially as prices of groceries are hitting an all-time high. Shoppers are anxious that they can not only get what they need, but also, they're getting the best deal – some consumers are visiting three or more top retailers a month. Those who are both keeping shelves full whilst saving money on labor costs can afford to be more competitive – and right now that can make all the difference. 

Seeing is believing: IIoT and inventory management  

It’s more competitive than ever, with businesses pitted up against customers wanting quick delivery. In fact, the biggest concern for warehouses is time in a recent study, 46% said their largest challenges was customers demanding their orders come faster.  

If your customer is a supermarket, this becomes an even bigger problem. As shelves began to empty, supermarkets found that they were having to ration certain food to make sure none missed out. With such a high level of responsibility and pressure, supermarkets want to make sure they can be transparent with customers about what is coming in when and being able to track the entire supply chain journey is the only way to have a concrete answer. 

If we don’t have access to a crystal ball that can see into the future, IIoT is the next best thing. By using wearables and sensors that collect data, they can help anticipate the arrival of goods and track their progress in real-time giving more accurate predictions of when things will arrive. It also helps give a complete overview of what is in the warehouse and provide analytics on weight, quantity, temperature and destination which can all be used to aid the seamless transportation. 

IIoT solutions have revolutionized supply chain management, making it faster, more efficient and reliable. With these technologies, managers can make decisions in a snap and proactively identify and mitigate risks associated with delays, ensuring timely delivery of goods. Beyond that, these solutions also make managing large warehouses (almost) easy, by providing real-time data on inventory levels and item location, making item retrieval a lot quicker and more accurate.