When the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics: Version 2.0 was released at ProMat 2017 last month, its debut included an on-floor education session featuring the six-person writing team who developed its content.
During “Get Ready for the Next 10 Years in Material Handling and Logistics,” the group participated in a panel discussion that is now available for listening and viewing of the accompanying presentation online, here, in webinar format. Joining editor Gary Forger of MHI were:
- Technology section author Bill Ferrell of Clemson University,
- Consumer section author David Schneider of We Are The Practitioners – David K. Schneider & Company,
- Workforce section author and Steve Hopper of Inviscid Consulting, and
- Logistics Infrastructure section authors Dana Magliola of the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative at North Carolina State University and Charles Edwards of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Each of the authors spoke about their respective topics, offering a high-level overview into the logistics and supply chain trends and challenges that can be turned into action plans by companies for development of strategic capabilities between now and 2030.
Ferrell started by noting, “We purposefully tried to write the technology section in this Roadmap to provide insights into… some of the systemic or systems oriented kinds of evolutions that might occur.” He then reviewed the three primary areas that are currently being impacted—and will continue to be impacted—by emerging and developing technologies: those that facilitate customers’ needs or wants; those that create new markets (think smartphones); and those that make jobs easier and improve the workplace.
Schneider asserted that consumers “are the dominant disrupter to the supply chain going forward, and they’re going to get worse.” He focused particularly on the newest upcoming generation of consumers, the “iGen” or persons born after the year 2000, noting: “They’re going to be such a huge influence [because] that generation’s going to be over 30% of the US population when they come of age and become true buying adults.”
In reviewing workforce, Hopper discussed the challenges in finding and retaining workers and the need to align work to their capabilities—rather than the other way around. “In the future it’s going to be more about understanding this worker and what their strengths, weaknesses and skills are, and how can we fit that worker to our environment,” he said, adding that coaching and improvement programs will play a big part in workforce success.
Magliola explored logistics infrastructure from a data and technology point of view, saying: “Full supply chain visibility is not a technological high point, it’s going to be table stakes—that’s really important to recognize. It’s going to be enabled by technologies and the maturation of things like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things. That will, however, create opportunity for innovation.”
With regard to physical logistics infrastructure, Edwards reviewed changing multimodal systems, including the need for $5 trillion to bring current U.S. roadways back to the standards of 1990. He stressed better collaborations between government and industry in order “to provide the infrastructure that’s needed so that that technology that was mentioned at the beginning can work, so that the consumers can get the products, and so that the workforce has a place to work.”