The digital age in which we are now living and doing business, characterized by easy access to information and constantly evolving technologies, has led to massive efficiency improvements and revolutionized many industries, including materials handling. New supply chain trends that are driven or at least influenced by digitization and other technologies are emerging all the time.
MHI’s 2019 Annual Industry Report, “Elevating Supply Chain Digital Consciousness”, reveals and quantifies some of the main supply chain trends that are affecting the industry by placing pressure on supply chains and compelling the industry to respond.
- Increased consumer expectations of the industry. Today’s consumers are surrounded by digital technology and information systems, and most are becoming more and more adept at using these tools. As a result, they expect faster deliveries, with real-time status updates. Free deliveries have also become the norm in many industries, leading many businesses to have to come up with innovative ways to contain this cost. There is also an increase in social and environmental awareness among consumers, with companies expected to be transparent about where they source goods and raw materials from, and how waste and end-of-life-cycle products are disposed of.
- A shrinking pool of skilled workers. Implementing and using new materials handling technologies and equipment requires input and oversight from workers who have robust SCM skills and are also tech-savvy or have the capability and desire to develop technological knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, these people are becoming increasingly scarce in the industry, and businesses will have to come up with new and innovative ways to attract, retain, and develop them.
- Market pressure to adopt new technologies. As industry, in general, digitizes at an ever-increasing pace, businesses will need to rapidly modernize their materials-handling operations to stay competitive. Deciding which technologies to adopt and having a robust implementation plan are keys to success here.