Is Your Supply Chain Next Generation Yet?


MHI have just released their 2017 Annual Industry Report – Next Generation Supply Chains: Digital, On-Demand and Always-On. It’s a timely report that looks at innovative technologies which will transform supply chains into next-generation models. It includes identifying barriers to adoption, the top supply chain challenges, strategies for leaders and real-world case studies.

The reason I find this report so useful and fascinating is that it comprises the views of 1100 manufacturing and supply chain industry leaders. It’s the fourth in a series and provides valuable insight that businesses can learn from in building their own supply chains.

Amazon Lead the Way

There has never been as much urgency as there is today to transform supply chains to meet consumer on-demand expectations. Amazon are leading the way in deploying new technologies and new business models in order to deliver goods when and where the consumer demands. On Cyber Monday 2016 it was reported they received 426 online orders per second. That is over 1 billion digital transactions in one day with the associated sorting, picking and delivery of the purchases.

That is an extreme example, but in today’s economy all companies need to embrace new supply chain technologies in order to compete. As George Prest, CEO of MHI states in the report:

“With a strategic focus and the courage to collaborate, leading firms are utilizing Next Generation Supply Chain technologies to create digital capabilities that give them the competitive advantage they need to survive and thrive in today’s on-demand economy.”

Disruptive Technologies

The nine technologies the survey respondents identified as having the most potential to transform supply chains are:

  1. Inventory and network optimization tools – models, tools and processes deployed for optimal network efficiency.
  2. Sensors and automatic identification – such as tags and barcodes for data capture crosses supply chain.
  3. Cloud computing and storage – for instant remote data storage and access.
  4. Robotics and automation – machines doing the work that humans used to do.
  5. Predictive analytics – using data to identify patterns and trends and predict future outcomes.
  6. Wearable and mobile technology – with real-time data exchange between the devices and a network.
  7. Autonomous vehicles and drones – computer controlled air, sea or ground vehicles.
  8. 3-D printing – product manufacturing from a digital three-dimensional blueprint.
  9. Internet of Things – Internet networked embedded transmitters and receivers.

At the top of the list of technologies that the surveyed supply chain principles think have the most opportunity to disrupt or provide competitive advantage are:

  • Robotics and automation, 61% up from 39% in 2015
  • Predictive analytics, 57% up from 38% in 2015
  • Internet of Things (IOT), 55% – a new category in 2017
  • Autonomous vehicles and drones, 54% up from 30% in 2015


Investment in Technology and People is a Requirement

There is absolutely no doubt that supply chains are rapidly evolving to meet consumer’s demands of higher levels of service at lower costs. These demands can only be met through efficiency gains in new business models and technology innovation. To successfully maintain competitive advantage through the creation of a next-generation supply chain will require investments in technology and a workforce with the advanced skill sets to operate the new technology.


No Time for Complacency

Now is not the time for complacency. 16% of the surveyed supply chain professionals believe that the next generation supply chain is already here, and 64% believe that it will come within the next five years. With some astute investment in technology and people right now there is an opportunity to build competitive advantage for your business. Take the time to read the full 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report. You’ll gain some valuable insights on how to develop your own Next Generation Supply Chain.

If you’re interested in learning how shipping by rail might better meet your freight transportation needs, or need warehousing to bring your goods closer to your customers, call New Mexico Transloading at 505 – 908 – 1911. We’d be delighted to have a conversation with you.

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