Technology investments will focus on improvements in safety technology and efficiency.
A recent article from the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC), discusses current issues being faced by the supply chain industry in 2020, as well as future trends.
Labor shortages continue to be a major issue in the industry, a problem that is intensified by increased customer expectations for quick and accurate delivery, and SKU proliferation. Salary comparisons, adjustments and company culture improvements will be key to hiring and retaining workers in 2020.
Systems that deliver improvements in safety, productivity and efficiency will be where technology investments are made. The usage of cloud-hosted software such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS) will increase, as well as iOS and Android based applications for warehouse management. Improved data services and reporting functions with visibility into real-time metrics will also become more prevalent, as will the use of Blockchain technology.
The interest in automatic guided vehicles (AGV) and autonomous mobile robots (AMR) has increased due to the ability to enhance the work of conveyors and supplement manual labor. Pick and place enhancement systems such as automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) and augmented reality visual headsets will also grow.
One consideration with the adoption of these automated systems is proper training and worker safety, particularly as OSHA citations for accidents and injuries involving machinery, machine guarding, lockout/tagout and fall protection have recently garnered fines as high as six-figures. (See more on OSHA here.)
Track and trace technology will likely increase in the food supply chain too, with a focus on features that enhance visibility into source, condition and safety, while enabling corrections during transit.
And what technologies will be implemented into the supply chain in the coming decades? WERC says to watch out for commercial space travel and Hyperloop.