Top 10 Supply Chain Technology Trends

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White paper

Top 10 Supply Chain
Technology Trends
It’s easy to name “mobility” and “wireless” as trends, but it’s less clear exactly what direction these developments are taking and how they can be used to improve business. One can hardly pick up a business or IT magazine without seeing multiple articles about the growth of mobile and wireless technologies. And it seems people can’t put down their PDAs, smart phones and other mobile computing and communications devices, at least when judging by the adoption rates and future growth projections.

But what’s missing in all this attention is context, particularly regarding how adoption of these technologies is creating improvements in enterprise and supply chain operations. For example, identifying mobile computing, printing and GPS as growth technologies doesn’t explain how one field service provider combined them to save at least 40 minutes per crew per day, and up to $2.1 million in overtime. This white paper does. It also provides many more examples of how to use technology for business advantage.

Intermec has been helping companies take advantage of the latest technologies for manufacturing, distribution, field service and other supply chain environments for more than 40 years. We pioneered many of the data capture, mobile computing and wireless communication technologies in use today, and continue to innovate through our close collaboration with leaders in wireless networking and data services, enterprise software and other advanced technology development. Drawing on our experience with thousands of customers worldwide, access to analysts and researchers, close relationships with IT leaders, and extensive network of solution providers, we have identified the top 10 technology trends in mobile, industrial and supply chain operations environments for 2007-2008. This white paper identifies these trends, explains how they apply to supply chain operations, and presents results from users who have adapted the technologies to improve their businesses.

The Top 10 Technologies
Here are the top 10 trends and technologies impacting supply chain operations spanning production, distribution, retail and remote service. 1. Comprehensive connectivity – from 802.11 wireless LAN technologies, cellular networks, Bluetooth

2. Voice and GPS communication integrated into rugged computers 3. Speech recognition
4. Digital imaging
5. Portable printing
6. 2D & other bar coding advances
7. RFID
8. RTLS
9. Remote management
10. Wireless and device security

You’re probably familiar with the technologies listed above, but perhaps not with the latest developments and trends. For example, did you know that practically any application can be easily modified to accept speech input because of the recent development of terminal emulation-based speech recognition technology? Did you know that Bluetooth, 802.11b/g, cellular and GPS communication are all available in a single handheld device? Did you know improved optics allow 2D bar codes on paper to be read at greater distances (over 50 feet) than 1D bar codes on retroreflective labels? Read on to learn more about how these and other developments are helping make production, distribution, service and other supply chain operations more efficient.

Connectivity
The various forms of wireless connectivity – Bluetooth for personal area networking, 802.11 wireless local area networking, and cellular wide area wireless networks for voice and data communication – are all highly visible and provide compelling business cases for many specific operations. Although innovation and adoption is continuing at a strong pace, these trends aren’t new. What is new and significant is how these technologies are being combined into single devices that provide multiple forms of wireless functionality, bringing convenience to both users and to IT staff responsible for managing mobile devices....
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