Automatic Data Capture: The Cornerstone of Modern Logistics Management / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

While not a new technology in its basic form, ADC continues to evolve to remain a cornerstone of modern logistics management.

Today, logistics management is much more complex than in previous years as companies are faced with managing omnichannel fulfillment while meeting vendor and consumer demands for both rapid fulfillment and accurate, error-free shipment.

One flaw in the supply chain has a domino effect, impacting every stage from the point of error to the end consumer.

It's not just companies with a vested interest in the ability to access precise stock levels in real-time, but consumers who can choose from multiple options to get the products they need to be delivered to their doorstep in the shortest time. 

Companies are keeping pace with these ever-changing needs and demands thanks to automatic identification and data capture (AIDC), a technology that's well-established yet continues to evolve along with the needs of industries around the globe.

AIDC isn't going anywhere; in fact, it has become the cornerstone of modern logistics management. 

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Asset Tracking Makes Automatic Data Collection a Reality 

Before automatic data capture, data collection was still happening, but it was largely being conducted manually. These manual data collection processes were not only incredibly time-consuming but also inaccurate, rife with the human error that accompanies most tedious, manual processes. 

The tools that facilitate automatic data collection aren't that new. Asset tags and barcode labels are well-established, as are handheld barcode readers that scan tags and labels to instantly record essential data about physical items and assets. Think about the sheer volume of warehouse inventory errors that occurred when warehouses relied entirely on manual data collection processes to maintain inventory counts and other information. 

There are, however, improvements and advancements happening in the asset tracking and scanning fields, as scanning devices are becoming more mobile, rugged, and versatile, with innovative new tools being introduced such as add-on components that work with smartphones or tablets and apps that turn ordinary mobile devices into barcode readers. Asset tags, as well, are evolving, with more durable barcode labels meeting unique industry specifications with the ability to withstand years of wear and tear without sacrificing readability. 

Automatic Data Capture Is Crucial for Data-Driven Companies 

It's practically impossible for companies in any industry to survive and thrive without making use of some form of data. With data exploding across all industries thanks to newer, innovative, and affordable technologies that enable both data collection and analysis, many companies are increasingly reliant on data to drive business decision-making. In the logistics world, companies cannot survive without embracing data. 

Real-time data, of course, is more valuable than outdated data generated months ago that has just now been compiled into a meaningful report. Manual data collection methods have long been a thing of the past for many companies, but automatic data capture enables the real-time insights that companies utilize to achieve lean operations and take a more agile approach to managing their business operations. With real-time data, managers can identify trends and patterns that allow them to adapt readily to changing demands. 

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Modern Logistics Management Demands Mobile Capabilities  

For logistics companies, these modern options can further minimize overhead costs and serve as the catalyst for more efficiency gains by enabling AIDC processes to happen both in and out of the field. Thanks to lower barriers to entry, companies of all sizes can build custom mobile apps, use off-the-shelf cloud-based software solutions, or customize open-source solutions for a comprehensive platform that stores data, makes it accessible throughout companies and to their suppliers, vendors, and partners, and translates real-time data capture into actionable insights. 

Mobile capabilities enable transportation logistics services to implement shift schedule changes, reroute drivers, and more, while the same capabilities allow warehouse operators to keep tighter control over inventory, maximize space utilization, and better manage shipping and receiving functions, among numerous other benefits. Across the board, AIDC is becoming a legacy technology thanks to its longevity and value in the space, but it's far from outdated in its functionality, having kept pace with technology innovation as a whole. 

The real-time nature of modern data capture is critical for the fast-paced demands faced by logistics companies in the field. Thanks to the ready availability of modern tools and technologies  that support the mobile workforce, logistics managers are able to adapt on the fly, accommodate unforeseen changes, and continue to meet the needs of their partners, clients, and customers without delaying the flow of the modern supply chain.

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