When looking into technology solutions to help heighten your supply chain operations, it’s not unusual to assume that said solution will be expensive. After all, purchasing, implementing, and maintaining IoT solutions does cost money. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find something that fits your budget; you just need to know what features and what benefits to look for when screening potential supply chain solutions. We’ll break down the solution features that can help you save money on your IoT purchase as well as compare your budget to the money produced from IoT’s return on investment.


 

Increase Your ROI by Investing in AirFinder Everywhere

  • Loss Prevention. Reduce the amount of loss that occurs during the supply chain process
  • Location Coverage. AirFinder Everywhere uses a combination of GPS, Cellular, and WiFi to determine location everywhere
  • Security Alerts. Know when a delay in shipment has occurred so the problem
    can be addressed immediately.

 

Supply Chain Visibility on Your Terms

The key to finding a supply chain management solution that fits your budget is finding a supply chain management solution that is adaptable. Some solutions companies only offer set technology packages at set prices that cannot be changed. A customer simply has to choose the one that works best for their company and their budget, even if it has extra features that they don’t need or lacks features that they would like. While there is nothing wrong with this model and it can hasten the purchasing process, if your company is working within a specific, limited budget, it’s probably not the right approach for you. Instead, you’ll want to invest in a solution that can change according to your needs and what you’re willing to spend, both during the initial investment period and later on down the road. When pursuing these more customized solutions, there are three main features that you should look for to ensure that your solution gives you what you need without breaking the bank.

Scalable to Your Company’s Scope

The first thing you’ll want to look for is a solution that is scalable to the needs of your, both up and down. A solution that can be scaled down is a solution that is designed so that you only pay for what you need and what you want to get out of it. The problem with a lot of pre-packaged solutions is that they’re often far too big for a company that’s working with a budget; you end up paying for components that you simply don’t need in the first place. A supply chain management solution that can be scaled down allows you to only pay for what you need for your operations. The ability to scale up at a later date is equally important. The point of investing in a supply chain solution is to increase your productivity, output, and profit. Once those factors begin to increase, you might find yourself needing or wanting a solution that works on a larger scale than the one you initially paid for. With a pre-packaged solution, you’ll likely have to select the next tier up, while risking that it is again not quite the size that you’re looking for. With a more scalable solution, you can figure out what components you want to add each time you expand, letting you grow far more gradually in a way that is far friendlier to your company’s wallet.

Applicable Across All of Your Needs

You’ll also want to ensure that the supply chain management solution that you choose to pursue is able to be applied across all of your supply chain visibility needs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of investing in highly specialized technology systems that only have one or two functions. After all, if a technology only serves one purpose it’s probably quite good at serving that purpose. However, that doesn’t mean that a technology with multiple functions can’t operate just as exceptionally. These multi-use supply chain management solutions are the better choice for companies working within a tight budget. These solutions mean that you can address multiple operational problems at once by paying for a single system; it also means that you’ll see a return on your investment far quicker since the system is being applied to multiple areas of your business operations. This makes a multi-use solution more affordable on every level, constituting a single investment that is quickly returned through the benefits it provides. Also, even if you’re only using the system for a single function upon its initial installation, having the opportunity to decide to use it for other functions in the future can help you save money down the road and strategically implement phases of automation and optimization within your daily operations.

Customizable Settings That Fit Your Budget

The final customization factor that you should look for when selecting a supply chain management system while on a budget is the ability to customize the operational settings of your device. Perhaps the biggest ongoing expense for IoT in supply chains stems from needing to replace batteries. This is largely unavoidable unless your operations are conducive to rechargeable or plug-in devices; within the transportation aspects of the supply chain, at least, the applicability of these alternatives is often limited. But that doesn’t mean you have to be saddled with a hefty, ongoing battery bill. Instead, you should look for a system that allows you some degree of control over how much battery power is being used by its devices at any given time. For example, Link Labs’ own asset tracking system allows you to select how often you want to receive a location alert and how you want location alerts to be triggered. A popular option that permits the highest level of visibility while preserving battery life is to set up the tags to only send location updates when movement starts or stops, ensuring that you always know where your assets are but giving the device a chance to “sleep” to help the battery last longer. These types of settings can improve battery life by months or even years depending on what you select, effectively reducing the amount of batteries you have to pay for.

How Supply Chain Management Pays for Itself

When considering the cost of a system that you’re looking to invest in to improve your supply chain management, it is just as important to consider what kind of return on investment you will be receiving as it is to consider how much that solution is going to cost you upfront. After all, if you’re making all the money you spent back and then some within a matter of months using a solution, are you really paying for the solution at all? Paying money now can lead to bigger returns later, and in fact, it should lead to bigger returns if you’ve selected the right solution for your company. This is what allows you to add to your solution later, because you recognize that when you stayed within your initial budget, you made that money back and now have more money to spend on expanding the solution. This expansion will allow you to see even greater returns, and so on. It’s all about iterations and building on what you have now so that you can have more later. While supply chain management technology pays for itself in ways beyond the monetary, when considering whether or not you’re sticking with your budget, the monetary returns are likely going to be in the forefront of your mind. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the ways that supply chain management software pays for itself.

Only Replace Assets When You Need To

Supply chains are built out of countless moving parts, including assets ranging from trailers and equipment to pallets and cargo and beyond. That’s a lot to keep track of, which can make it difficult to know for sure where something is and how often it’s being used. This is a particularly costly oversight when it comes to trailers. Being both overutilized or underutilized can lead to trailers having more unexpected breakdowns and accruing greater maintenance costs; overutilization creates more wear and tear, and underutilization often leads to missing scheduled inspections that could have caught potential problems before they happened. Either way, the result is the same: the more damaged a trailer becomes, the more likely it is that you’ll have to replace parts or the entire trailer. While the latter is clearly far more expensive, parts themselves aren’t cheap either. Also, for smaller assets like tools, equipment, pallets, and containers, it’s highly important that you maintain full visibility of their location, as they are incredibly easy to misplace or even leave behind at a remote destination. While these won’t cost as much as trailer replacements, constantly losing and needing to replace even just reusable pallets quickly adds up. By using an asset tracking system for supply chain management, you can gain visibility of both how often assets are used and where they are at any given time. In doing so, you can ensure that you’re only making replacements when you absolutely have to, saving you the cost of buying more of an asset that could have lasted longer.

Optimize How Your Workers Use Their Time

That being said, supply chains aren’t just built from physical assets, they’re built from the people who use and maintain those assets. Without skilled, committed workers, supply chain success would be virtually impossible to achieve. And a quality supply chain management system can help them achieve that success far more efficiently. Some of the ways that an asset tracking system or other supply chain management system can help are readily apparent. For instance, when your workers don’t know where the assets they need to complete their job are, they end up spending their time looking for those assets instead of completing crucial tasks. With a system in place to provide real-time location visibility, this is no longer a concern, and they can simply look up the item’s location in the system, retrieve it, and carry on with more important tasks. However, an all-encompassing supply chain management solution will take these benefits much further when all features are used to their full potential. A well-equipped supply chain management solution will allow you to monitor every stage of your process to identify inefficiencies and disruptions, both on an immediate and historical basis. The immediate basis allows you to address disruptions as they occur so that they have less of an impact; the historical basis lets you identify areas of your process that could be improved and allows you to see reliable results of changes you attempt to make. This all adds up to financial benefit by helping to increase your company’s capacity, letting you take on more work and more paying customers by creating a more efficient process.

Avoid Non-Compliance and Legal Fees

Another area where a quality supply chain management system pays for itself lies within compliance to industry regulations and other standards. It’s important to not only maintain compliance within the supply chain, but also to be able to irrevocably prove that compliance when that proof is demanded. At the end of the day, it matters very little if you’re actually compliant if you don’t have the data and reports to prove that compliance. Improper record-keeping is enough to place you in violation of certain regulations, leading to hefty legal fees and the potential for fines and other penalties. This is an especially large threat when it comes to cold chain logistics, as the vitality of consumer safety means that regulations are far more harshly enforced and penalized. With a supply chain management system in place, however, these fees can be avoided. An asset tracking solution with condition monitoring capabilities allows you to monitor the temperature of not only the overall trailer, but of each individual pallet or unit. This creates a historical record of temperature fluctuations and allows operators to respond quickly if something begins falling out of range. If proof of compliance is requested, the system can be used to generate the requisite report and provide additional information if required, ensuring that you won’t accrue legal fees simply because your records were not complete. Use of this system also has the added benefit of reducing spoiled product and waste, which saves you money from wasted trips, disposal, and replacing ruined goods.

Manage Your Supply Chain with Affordable Asset Tracking

Asset tracking provides one method to help you manage your supply chain at an affordable cost with all of the features you need. Our AirFinder system is designed to provide you with both indoor and outdoor visibility on the same system. More to the point, we’re designed to help fit your needs. With scalable infrastructure applicable across a wide variety of use cases, you can choose the scope of your installation based on what works best for your use case and your budget. If you decide you want to expand to more uses or just greater capacity at some point down the road, it’s a simple matter of adding more tags for more assets. We also work to provide the longest lasting batteries possible, with an array of configurations available to optimize your power efficiency. If you want to learn more about using AirFinder for supply chain visibility, book a demo with our experts today.

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Written by Makenna Dudley

Makenna Dudley is a Marketing Associate for Link Labs, with practical experience in written communications, media writing, and additional forms of content creation. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication.

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