Monday, July 27, 2020

New Materials Handling Report Predicts the Future of the Supply Chain

The Look of Logistics for the Next Two Decades
Shipping News Feature

US – MHI, the North Carolina based trade association which represents a large proportion of the country's material handling and logistics stakeholders, has published the results of its latest report looking forward to the next decade or two of key technologies which will impact the supply chain industries.

The third in a series of its US Material Handling and Logistics Roadmaps was developed in collaboration with near neighbour Burchette & Associates, and is entitled ‘Transformation Age: Shaping Your Future’ and, because the trends covered in the report have been so deeply impacted by Covid-19, a special section focusing on the pandemic and its long- and short-term impacts on supply chain and logistics operations has been included.

The report predicts the acceleration of digital and automated supply chain solutions due to the pandemic. It concludes these technological solutions provide the visibility, flexibility, agility and social distancing answers that firms will need to succeed in a post-viral world. The tools are as wide ranging as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, edge computing and drones, and are expected to shift early-stage promises to step-change value propositions.

The growth of such as Amazon over the past decade has shown, not just the rise in eCommerce, but the need to introduce ultra-modern and efficient systems to cope with both documentary and physical handling of consignments, plus the speed needed to get the goods to the customers door to ensure satisfaction and to stay ahead of the competition. The next few years are likely to see this face of the transport industry continue to grow in importance.

In addition to accelerated technology investments, the report predicts that some organisations will choose to embrace a more regional-local sourcing, manufacturing, and delivery approach, known as ‘nearshoring’ or centricity. Others will be looking to diversify their supplier base. Still others will seek greater balance in inventory management, blending ‘just-in-time’ with ‘just-in-case’. John Paxton, MHI COO/CEO Designate comments:

“Businesses, consumers and supply chains will be forever changed by this global pandemic. The organisations that accelerate the implementation of digital, next generation technologies and solutions and take a hard look at material and product sourcing are the ones that will be best positioned for future success because they will be the ones that can quickly respond and adjust to supply chain disruptions.”

The report offers information and insights meant to spark thought and discussion about key factors that are expected to drive, fuel and impact various aspects of life and industry in the coming decade and beyond. It also recommends how leaders can respond to keep their companies thriving and profitable. George W. Prest, CEO of MHI, observes:

“I believe strategic leadership as well as the people at the operational level will have considerable interest in this information, as they’re the ones who will ultimately be facing the challenges of serving customers in light of these dynamic market forces. It is very important for them to understand what’s coming, how fast it’s coming and how those forces will impact their supply chains.”

The Roadmap covers a wide range of topics, including anticipated advances in smart technologies and digital decisioning tools, market influencers, global factors, ways workplace changes and new consumer expectations will revolutionise industries, and even how the new space economy will become a topic of growing importance.