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Is 5G the Key To Unlock the Potential Of India's Supply Chain? Supply chain issues affecting businesses today are to be seen as a long-term challenge and it needs to be addressed sooner than later

By Sudhir Unnikrishnan

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Global supply chains have seen enormous changes in the last three to four years than it has in the past decade. From supply chain leaders to government agencies, the industry is now striding towards creating a connected ecosystem to adapt to the new status quo of supply chain challenges. And at the core lies Data Synchronization from various fragmented supply chain participants and numerous disparate systems.

The rollout of 5G technology is going to change the game of data connectivity. 5G isn't simply an upgrade to the speed or betterment of existing systems; it is about the low latency, faster throughput, and its ability to support new applications, that can transform supply chains and how the industries' function.

5G to radically modernize the supply chain modus operandi

While India aims to reform its logistics sector through digitalization, the sector has been crippled due to the inability of large-scale tech penetration into remote areas and rural regions. A recent study on Rural Internet Connectivity showed that around 50% of the Indian population have poor or no connectivity to access digital services. With its broad bandwidth, ultra-low latency, and high-speed connectivity capabilities, 5G will be able to create a truly connected India and catapult the sector.

Supply chain transition from independently managed systems to a connected network has eluded smaller supply chain players from its operational and productive gains due to heavy tech investments. The rapid growth of 5G connectivity and its performance improvements can create cheaper, centrally controlled, unified networks for businesses without excessive tech budgets to automate processes and create advanced digitalized supply chains.

5G has the capability to amalgamate modern technologies like big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cloud, augmented and virtual reality, and the Internet of things. The convergence of these technologies to draw actionable insights from the colossal amounts of data can drive Industry 4.0 and make real-time capabilities an actual reality.

Building the next-gen supply chains for your business

Supply chain issues affecting businesses today are to be seen as a long-term challenge and it needs to be addressed sooner than later. The use of 5G in supply chain operations has the potential to not only predict serious disruptions but also identify ways to mitigate them.

Its largest application can be seen in the IoT-enabled supply chains. Sensor-based technologies and IoT capabilities, previously only a dream of many businesses, can now become easily affordable and accessible. Instant, rapid connectivity to these devices can enable tracking the micro-movement of goods throughout any stage of the supply chain. Data from these devices can help avoid significant impacts by identifying anomalies, improve efficiency by utilizing advanced analytical capabilities, and increase customer satisfaction by providing them with the most accurate progress status.

Infrastructural capabilities offered by 5G technology can improve data sharing and communication between supply chain participants. Because of its speed and scale, 5G can process large amounts of data with high precision. Instant communication between devices can be leveraged to optimize inventory, warehouse space, routes, fleets, and robots. Data from people, devices, vehicles, and goods can be synthesized to make smarter decisions and boost performance.

5G can help stitch together real-time data without any time delays from every supply chain node to help make informed decisions. It can enhance supply chain digital twins that can analyse the changing dynamics, understand supply chain behaviours, and predict abnormalities, making companies more agile and resilient.

5G will unlock a new level of connected logistics and supply chain ecosystem. With the surge of digital applications and the rapidly evolving modern technological marvels, companies must be ready to reinvent supply chain models to supercharge their strategic business growth and gain competitive advantage.

Sudhir Unnikrishnan

SVP & Managing director of Blume Global India

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