The “Always-On” Supply Chain – Are You Ready?

Economists and logistics pundits are hailing the advent of the “always-on” supply chain – one in which information is as valuable as goods. From drones to the Internet of Things, smart technology is changing the supply chain landscape.

A recent report from MHI, the materials handling and logistics trade organization, listed eight technologies that are key to the always-on supply chain:

  • Predictive analytics
  • Robotics and automation
  • Sensors and automatic identification
  • Wearable and mobile technology
  • Driverless vehicles and drones
  • Inventory and network optimization tools
  • Cloud computing and storage
  • 3D printing

As information flows freely throughout the supply chain, shipping modes will be modified. Warehousing needs will alter. Training and staffing requirements will change. These changes will have a profound effect on the way we all do business. Ask yourself if your business is ready for the always-on supply chain, and consult with your storage professionals to make sure you’re ahead of the curve.


Photo © denisismagilov / Fotolia

Intelligent Forklifts – Are They Too Smart?

The “Internet of Things,” in which all objects will be connected via sensors to a broad digital system, is still in its infancy. While robotic vacuum cleaners and exercise-monitoring clothes are fairly common, such things as self-driving cars are not quite rush-hour ready. However, RFID and on-board intelligence are being successfully combined to create intelligent forklifts for materials handling systems: Proponents point to cost savings gained through improved safety, greater efficiency, and better inventory control.

Those of the Luddite persuasion, though, envision robots running amok through warehouses, ignoring RFID signals, destroying products and threatening the lives of their human bosses. But automation systems failures can usually be traced to human user error, or, more important, a poor choice of automation vendor. Cutting corners never pays, especially when it’s your inventory at stake. Thoroughly vet your vendors, and your warehouse won’t end up like “I, Robot.”

Now how do I program my vacuum cleaner to do the stairs…?


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Photo © JRB –