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2018 MHI Annual Industry Report Highlights NextGen Innovations and How to Overcome Top Barriers to Their Adoption

* By Carol Miller, MHI Vice President of Marketing and Communications *

For the fifth consecutive year, MHI and the Deloitte Consulting LLP research team—led by Scott Sopher, principal and leader of the Global Supply Chain Practice—queried more than 1,100 manufacturing and supply chain leaders to evaluate the influence a range of trends and next generation (NextGen) technologies have had. Executives from a variety of industries weighed in on their supply chain business impact, as well as cybersecurity concerns and workforce challenges.

The resulting 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” confirmed the trends identified in the previous reports, says Sopher: “The next generation, digital, on-demand and always-on supply network is here. It’s real. It’s happening. And lots of companies have embraced it.”

The report was released in a keynote panel discussion at MODEX 2018. In it, respondents acknowledged that today’s supply chains do much more than just physically move products and materials from one location to another. Today’s digital, interconnected world demands that supply chains also serve as a connected, coordinated information ecosystem that delivers maximum flexibility, visibility and transparency—regardless of the manpower available.

Reflecting this, survey respondents identified their top two operational challenges as: increasing customer demands on supply chains (73%) and hiring qualified workers (64%).

Identifying how companies are using NextGen technologies to transform supply chains into digital operations continues to be a key component of the survey. Nine technologies studied in previous reports are revisited:

  • Robotics and Automation
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Driverless Vehicles and Drones
  • Wearable and Mobile Technology
  • Inventory and Network Optimization
  • Sensors and Automatic Identification
  • Cloud Computing and Storage
  • 3D Printing

Conducted at the end of 2017, this year’s survey included two rapidly emerging NextGen technologies for the first time: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.

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According to the recently released 2018 MHI Annual Industry Report, “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” eight out of ten survey respondents believe these supply chains will be the predominant model within just five years. However, the report found that the adoption of some of these technologies was slower than originally reported when MHI started the annual report in 2014. The report cites three top barriers to adoption of these technologies: 1. Making the business case for NextGen supply chain investments. 2. Tackling the supply chain skills gap and workforce shortage. 3. Building trust and security in digital, always-on supply chains. This issue of MHI Solutions focuses on the adoption of these digital solutions, from best practices in robotics and artificial intelligence to blockchain and innovations in last mile delivery.

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