What is the Role of Geographical Information Systems in the Supply Chain? – All About Uses of GIS


Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology has revolutionized the way businesses and organizations manage their supply chain operations. GIS allows for the integration and analysis of spatial and non-spatial data, allowing organizations to make informed decisions and optimize their supply chain processes.

From transportation and logistics to inventory management and distribution, GIS plays a critical role in streamlining supply chain operations and improving efficiency. 

Unilog is dedicated to providing high-quality supply chain solutions, utilizing advanced technology. Therefore, our team is aware that using GIS is crucial for effective supply chain management.

Let’s delve deeper into the various ways GIS is used in the supply chain and the benefits it provides for businesses across different industries.

What is Geographic Information Systems (GIS)?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is an automated information system created to gather, store, process, access, display, and share geographical data. Modern GIS systems come with one or more databases and a full information processing system. Software for logistics mapping is primarily intended for professional evaluations and strategic analytics. The geographic information system processes and stores data with both spatial and temporal references.

Retailers, banks, restaurant chains, and petrol stations can all use geographically coded files from a GIS to carry out demographic research. For example, a retailer can use this information to determine the most suitable location for a new store or restaurant by combining geographic data with demographic information about the population, such as age, income, traffic flow, and population density.

Common Uses of Geographical Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a powerful tool for visualizing geographical data and solving spatial-related problems. GIS allows for the linking, integrating, and evaluating of data from various geographic themes or layers, making it useful for a wide range of applications, as it can be used for anything that can be mapped.

Managing agricultural crop data, addressing public health concerns, mapping wildfire risk and preparedness, modeling hazmat risk, and mapping, monitoring, and mitigating invasive species are some of the common uses of GIS. Other uses include inventory and management of resources, crime mapping, route, and network management, monitoring and management of vehicles, locating and targeting customers, and managing properties.

GIS transportation planning enables you to manage the infrastructure, create traffic schedules, use them in information systems for passengers and emergency services, plan traffic volumes, and conduct marketing campaigns to guarantee the profitability and reliability of transportation

Role of GIS in the Supply Chain

Effective supply chain management relies on geographic information systems as a decision support tool. Geographical information systems (GIS) can be used in the supply chain in many different ways, but the primary one is advanced visualization

GIS mapping ties many different data sources together. So, instead of just looking at spreadsheets, users can have a visual and intuitive picture of what is going on in the supply chain at their fingertips. 

Here are the most common uses of GIS in the supply chain industry:

  • While using GPS for location, GIS also provides data in a way that enables the user to make wise strategic and tactical choices to map manufacturers, customers, processing facilities, supplier locations, distribution hubs, and transportation routing.
  • Risk management is a key area for GIS implementation. When considering natural disasters, it is important to understand the benefits of strategic planning and identify any obvious dangers, such as flat coastal locations where a tsunami could strike. You can observe this kind of information in advance using mapping tools and superimposed data, so you can anticipate which manufacturing facilities and transportation routes will be impacted.
  • To manage the supply chain and reduce risk, real-time planning can also benefit from GIS since it allows people to use that information to make operational decisions.
  • Another use is to map traffic patterns inside buildings so that businesses can analyze patterns to determine which aisles get the most traffic and arrange products accordingly.

GIS in Logistics and Transportation

GIS transportation planning enables businesses to manage the infrastructure, create traffic schedules, use them in passenger and emergency services information systems, plan traffic volumes, and conduct marketing operations to guarantee the sustainability and reliability of transportation. 

This smart system can complete the following operations:

  • Create a thorough map of the complete system of roads, buildings, departments, and governing bodies.
  • Aid in evaluating the condition of road networks and repair efforts, the congestion at freight terminals, the monitoring of supplementary services, and their precise position.
  • Keeping accurate records on passenger flow, travel times, and traffic jams. Creating new routes and evaluating those already in use.
  • Increase the network’s economic efficiency by allowing analysis of traffic patterns, loading nodes, and sections.
  • Real-time tracking of the distribution of rolling stock on the territorial highway segments, with the capacity to swiftly reunite, avoid traffic and gather empty and overloaded nodes.
  • The capacity to efficiently distribute the required resources, as well as the prevention and elimination of accident consequences

GIS in Inventory Management

GIS is an outstanding technology to use for inventory management. GIS assists in lowering costs, growing the business, and enhancing customer service since supply chain management (SCM) is the process of properly planning for material management, information flow, and financial movement in a network made up of manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and customers.

The GIS application is utilized as a tool for tracking inventory levels, anticipating demand, and improving warehouse layouts. While strengthening supply chains for better inventory management flow becomes a challenging aspect of a business, GIS also aids in product manufacturing, processing facilities, supplier locations, and distribution centers.

Geographical Information System allows for the collection and analysis of hundreds of constraints for a geographically diverse supply chain. As a result, the development of improved contingency plans and risk management. This considerably enhances logistics as well as inventory management.

GIS in Risk Management

GIS has become an effective tool for assessing the danger to life and property caused by natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones, and floods. Natural disaster risk assessment has two elements: hazards and vulnerability, which measure the potential harm that risk may do to the built environment. Therefore, a GIS system can be used for manipulating, analyzing, and graphically presenting risk and hazard data.

Additionally, since these data have associated location information that is also stored in the GIS, it is possible to identify and use their spatial interrelationships in computer-based risk assessment models. The results of this evaluation can be used by insurance firms to help them decide on the costs of their insurance policies, by land developers to decide on the viability of project sites, and by government, planners to improve disaster preparedness. 

GIS in Supply Chain Sustainability

A sustainable supply chain protects people and the environment along the entire chain by implementing ecologically and socially responsible practices at every level. This indicates that a company follows environmental and social standards for both its operations and those of its suppliers.

When it comes to green supply chain management, businesses have mostly concentrated on making decisions that are less harmful to the environment. Procurement and supplier selection have advanced due to recent software development that industries are rapidly adopting. 

Using GIS technologies reveals that businesses are starting to make use of these tools to enhance how they monitor and lower carbon emissions, find sustainable suppliers, assess the supply chain’s environmental impact, and obtain materials based on new supply chain concerns.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, incorporating GIS technology into the supply chain is a trend that is here to stay. If you’re excited about this technological revolution, then you’ll be happy to know about Logivice – a platform that offers an inventory management system that focuses on automation and data accuracy. 

To fully utilize GIS technology in the supply chain, it’s important to speak with experts who specialize in automating management processes. So, why not take your supply chain to the next level and reach out to the professionals at Unilog? Join the future today!

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