Visibility, Traceability, and Location Intelligence in Supply Chain Management

In the modern era of constant disruption, rapid digitization, and growing consumer demands, the traditional ways of managing supply chains are no longer sufficient. One of the key forces shaping the future of supply chains is the concept of visibility, traceability, and location intelligence. This blog post will delve into these concepts and their importance in the modern supply chain.

Visibility, Traceability, and Location Intelligence in Supply Chain Management

The Importance of Visibility, Traceability, and Location Intelligence


Visibility in a supply chain traditionally refers to having the ability to check at any time where cargo is. Today, full visibility in the supply chain is starting to encompass more than just product flow. It includes a deeper level overview that combines supply, demand, inventory, crisis management, waste avoidance, and more, to help brands make better decisions for future resilience and growth.
Despite these advantages, a survey conducted by QIMA revealed that only 16% of businesses have comprehensive knowledge of their suppliers across all tiers, and nearly a third of respondents reported knowing less than 50% of their supply chain. This highlights the need for improved visibility and traceability in supply chain operations.

Technologies Enabling Visibility, Traceability, and Location Intelligence


Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT stands for Internet of Things. It refers to the interconnectedness of physical devices, such as appliances and vehicles, that are embedded with software, sensors, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data. This technology allows for the collection and sharing of data from a vast network of devices, creating opportunities for more efficient and automated systems. For example, in the supply chain domain, IoT can be used to track the real-time location of goods in transit, monitor the condition of perishable goods, and even automate reordering processes when stock levels are low.

Geofencing works by creating virtual geographic fences around physical locations for more targeted mobile advertising. It is the application of defining a set geographic perimeter around a location. Alerts are triggered when a mobile device enters the radius around a pre-established point of interest on a map and users have opted into the app's location services. For example, in the supply chain domain, geofencing can be used to automatically notify warehouse staff when a delivery truck is about to arrive, or to trigger specific logistics processes when a shipment enters or leaves a particular geographic area.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
AI is a broad term that refers to systems or machines that resemble human intelligence. Machine Learning (ML), a subset of AI, focuses on developing systems that learn or improve performance based on the data they ingest. For example, in the supply chain domain, AI and ML can be used to predict future demand patterns based on historical data, optimize routing of deliveries to minimize fuel consumption and delivery times, and even identify potential supply chain disruptions before they occur.

Blockchain is a type of database in which pieces of data are stored together in sequential blocks that cannot be altered or deleted. It's like a digital ledger that records transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks. This allows participants to verify and audit transactions independently. In the supply chain domain, blockchain can be used to ensure the authenticity of goods by tracking their journey from the manufacturer to the consumer, prevent counterfeiting, and improve transparency and trust between supply chain partners.

Trends to Expect in 2024


The Rise of Data Aggregators
In the coming years, the industry will see the rise of data aggregators. These types of software will aggregate data from different sources, and through new algorithms help logistics professionals with contingency resolving or their day-to-day decision-making. Some of these will feature predictive data, generated by artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the customer's knowledge of the estimated time of arrival for their shipment.

Increased Outsourcing
According to Allied Market Research, the global fourth-party logistics (4PL) market "was valued at $57.9 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $111.7 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2022 to 2031". A clear sign that more companies will move to logistics outsourcing, leaving their logistics in the hands of specialized experts. Within the initiatives included in 4PL models, visibility takes center stage.



Visibility, traceability, and location intelligence are not just predictions, but imperatives for supply chain success in 2024 and beyond. As businesses look into their plans to refine their strategies for 2024, these supply chain visibility trends are expected to play a significant role in the coming year.
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