According to information contained in “Elevating Supply Chain Digital Consciousness”, MHI’s annual industry report for 2019, the technologies that will influence supply chain trends and significantly influence the materials-handling and logistics industry over the next 10 years are (in order of importance):
- Sensors and Automatic ID. These technologies generate large amounts of data in real-time that make the supply chain more visible and transparent. This removes some traditional limitations and creates a powerful competitive advantage.
- Inventory and Network Optimization Tools. By helping balance supply and demand and control inventory across the supply chain, these tools reduce overall supply chain costs, improve margins, optimize inventory usage, and lead to better strategic planning and customer service levels.
- Predictive Analytics. Advanced statistical analysis of data (structured and unstructured) to identify patterns and predict future events and outcomes yields far greater accuracy and depth of information than simply using past sales history to try to predict future demand.
- Cloud Computing and Storage. Moving IT infrastructure, applications, software, and databases to cloud-based services delivers a network effect across the entire supply chain, providing advantages over traditional IT setups like lower cost of entry, faster time to market, and simple scalability.
- Robotics and Automation. Smaller, more mobile, and more flexible robots that fit seamlessly into existing workspaces and are not designed to replace employees, but rather to free them up to do more valuable work, are having a massive effect on productivity within the SCM industry.
- Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Industry 4.0 (connected IT on the shop floor) and the industrial internet of things are blurring the line between hardware and software. To stay competitive and efficient, supply chains of the future will need to be more integrated and connected.
- Artificial Intelligence Technologies. Artificial intelligence, based on machine learning, leads to smarter, more responsive automation. Artificial intelligence technologies allow machines to perform visual perception, decision making, and other tasks, as well as take in vast amounts of SCM data and provide immediate, actionable suggestions – creating a powerful competitive advantage.