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How Walmart chooses which tech to implement in its supply chain
There is a remarkable array of emerging digital technologies being marketed to the supply chain space: blockchain, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and robotics, just to name a few. But how should companies decide which to invest in and implement?
For megaretailer Walmart, the place to start is simple: Ask yourself, what supply chain problem are you addressing, and what value does that problem have to the organization. Speaking at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) 2019 EDGE Conference, Vijay Sankararam, head of Digital Product, Supply Chain, at Walmart, provided three examples of emerging technologies that the company has implemented to answer specific problems.
- Internet of Things sensors and machine vision cameras to improve the loading accuracy for outbound trailers at Walmart distribution centers,
- Real-time (or near real-time) tracking on trailers to provide more accurate estimated time of arrivals to the stores' loading docks, allowing stores to better schedule their backroom labor
- Blockchain technology to improve the traceability of produce and aid recalls
According to Sankaram, when implementing a new technology, Walmart follows these guiding principles:
- Operate with a zero-loss mindset. Maintaining the stability of its systems and processes is a priority for Walmart. A new technology should not disrupt this stability.
- Drive simplicity in the user experience. A new technology should be easy as possible for an employee to grasp and use.
- Maintain process consistency. Only change the process when necessary.
- Preserve clarity with one version of the truth. Walmart wants to limit copies of data.
- Leverage mobility and automation to improve operational effectiveness.
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