Understanding Developing Trends in Automation and their Impact on Supply Chains


Have you envisioned the impact automation can have in the present world? Try to think of a world where technology collaborates with automation to distribute products without human involvement. 

A consumer places an order, 3-D printers receive the details and produces the completed product which a robot takes from the shelves for packaging and eventually position them in a self-driving vehicle. The vehicles later drive out of the premises and drones are released automatically from the vehicle to distribute products on the go and the vehicle keeps on moving until it’s ready for reloading. 

The above example triggers massive data that can be beneficial in the supply chain as well as influence transportation agencies and planners across the globe. The details in this example may not take place any time soon. 

However, organizations and entrepreneurs should beware of the effects of developing trends within the automation sector and how it will transform transportation procedures and supply chains in the near future. Here are the trends you need to watch out for. 

Logistics Labor Shortages and Automation

Recent studies conducted by the Conference Board indicated that the shortage of blue-collar would continue beyond 2019. The continued growth of online shopping has specifically had a huge impact on transportation labor with the increasing appeal for delivery drivers. The shortage of labor highly contributes to the extensive transportation scope shortage being experienced in the US. 

Self-driving vehicles are some of the prospective long term solutions expected to solve the growing problem. Still, there are various functional solutions which can be adopted immediately to solve the problem. Chris Jones from Descartes says that while capacity is available, it’s locked up. 

Chris proceeds to note that the year 2019 will usher in collaborative transportation administration, with logical service providers and shippers paying more focus to enlarge their transportation environment, capacity within their network, and opening non-utilized capacity as they reduce the deadhead miles. The accomplishment demands resulting from the e-commerce boom are tightening warehouse labor with the facilities experiencing challenges when it comes to filling vacant warehouse positions. 

Further, warehouses are adopting automation to fulfill the direct to consumer needs. The highly volatile features of the e-commerce sector presently are promoting players in the distribution industry to search for more scalable and versatile solutions. The progress trend of mobile autonomous robotics and transporter system purchases within the warehouse is expected to continue. 

Still, warehouse automation is just a fraction of the solution to an organization’s fulfillment requirements. This will mitigate rather than offer solutions to the imbalance of the labor supply demand. According to  Manhattan Associates Labor Management’s product manager Peter Schnorbach, the sturdy labor market will continue in the near future. Seeing that companies can hardly retool fast enough, wages will continue rising following increased demand. 

This means that companies will have to adopt creative concepts when it comes to recruiting and absorbing employees. Employee engagement programs for instance which offer various rewards to recognize employee performance will be effective in enhancing job satisfaction and this will promote productivity. 

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing covers all activity within the supply chain which can have an impact on already existing factory production. Sometimes it can even change it completely. While additive manufacturing can be manually managed, automating it is easy and often likened to switching on the power and connecting to the IoT (Internet of Things) 

For instance, additive manufacturing can comprise of using 3-D printers to generate replacement parts for consumers at the store. However, we may have to wait a little longer before 3-D printer capacity evolves. 

Robotics Improve both Outbound and Inbound Logistics for Shippers

Another trend to watch out for in automation is robots as icons of automation. A robot executes tasks when requested to do so by either a human being or a system. Many modern robotic systems today are executing tasks at the request of an order fulfillment system. The order process alerts robots in warehouses.



It’s worth noting that accomplishment operations have a huge impact on adaptability when it comes to meeting short term accomplishment horizons and the fast-changing market requirements. The growing need to expertly adapt will perhaps dwindle and machine learning will be applied more across the supply chain in 2019 and in the near future.