2019 will see a huge increase in the use of cutting-edge ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies across the supply chain, according to the procurement news and information outlet, The Strategic Sourceror.

The technologies have been used over the last few years, mainly by larger enterprises. But, they have become less costly and proved their worth in delivering impressive efficiencies.

The technologies likely to be embraced this year by small and medium-sized enterprises include:

Super-fast 5G:5G cellular communications technology began rolling out in April, offering speeds up to 1,000 times faster than 4G. It promises to improve factory efficiency, for example, because it will help software to operate faster – vitally important as almost all manufacturing equipment is, or will soon be, digitally connected.

All-encompassing Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERPs):these automated solutions are poised to revolutionise how manufacturers produce, manage, and deliver. A range of new industry-specific ERPs with greater customisation options and systems that ensure government compliance approval will come on stream this year.

Virtual and Augmented Reality tools:these versatile tools allow remote engineers to undertake full equipment inspections, deliver engaging virtual training to staff, and enable medical manufacturers to see the locations of medical devices in the body, to mention but a few applications.

Ultra-robust new security solutions for physical and digital assets:these include embedded, microcontroller security systems using sophisticated cryptography to protect physical assets and stronger cloud security systems to shield cloud-based data.

Robotics:greater uptake of automated robotic manufacturing solutions will occur among small and medium-sized facilities in 2019 as top developers have made this technology more accessible to smaller players.

Other new technologies seeing greater uptake in 2019 include the flying drones in warehouse centres and for distribution, and Bluetooth and W-Fi connected self-driving forklifts and mass-market picking devices. Practitioners in supply chain jobs, including interims, are, it seems, set to see some dramatic changes in their field this year.