In addition to examining the eight innovative technologies anticipated to help meet companies’ struggles to meet customer demands for faster, better service at lower costs, the 2015 MHI Annual Industry Report: Supply chain innovation – Making the impossible possible acknowledges that the skill sets of the workers supporting them must be equally as sophisticated as the technologies themselves.
Simply finding qualified workers is the first challenge. The report cites statistics about the 600,000 U.S. manufacturing positions currently unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers. It also notes the U.S. Roadmap for Material Handling & Logistics’ prediction that 1.4 million new supply chain jobs will be created between now and 2018.
Those statistics are backed up by the responses of the 400-plus manufacturing and supply chain professionals surveyed for the 2015 MHI Annual Industry Report. Nearly 31% of respondents said a lack of available talent presents a significant barrier to the implementation and deployment of these innovative supply chain technologies, which include:
- Inventory and network optimization tools
- Sensors and automatic identification
- Cloud computing and storage
- Robotics and automation
- Predictive analytics
- Wearable and mobile technology
- 3D printing
- Driverless vehicles and drones
During the ProMat 2015 keynote presentation of the Annual Industry Report, a panel of seven industry leaders discussed a variety of ways that corporations, suppliers and associations can work with educational institutions to successfully solve these workforce challenges.
Three panelists—Randolph Bradley, technical fellow of supply chain management for The Boeing Company; John Hill, director for MHI member St. Onge Company; and Jonathan Rader, Manager of Design Engineering for FedEx SmartPost—offered some additional insights and observations about ways to attract, train and retain the workers needed to support these supply chain innovations.
By Carol Miller, MHI Vice President of Marketing & Communications Services