Some of the disruptive technologies and social trends that are affecting society at large are making their way into DCs, according to "Seven trends shaping the future of material handling," an article in the Q4/2014 issue of our sister publication, CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. "Big data," the Internet of Things, mobility, the tech-savvy millennial generation, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, and alternative energy sources are all going to influence material handling—and probably sooner than you think, says author Lew Manci. Manci is vice president-engineering at Crown Equipment Corp., a manufacturer of lift trucks and associated technologies.
These technologies and trends—even those that don't directly relate to material handling—will help drive costs out of the supply chain while increasing the speed and predictability of product movement, Manci contends. "These trends are already finding their way into business applications in a number of industries that will serve as development laboratories and proving grounds for the next generation of material handling technology," he writes. Material handling managers who begin to develop strategies for these technologies today, he adds, "will be in the best position to transform their disruptive power into competitive advantages for their organizations in the future."