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MHI SOLUTIONS COMMUNITY: Disruption Junction

Disruption Junction

All too often, if you want to make something easier or better in the future, you may have to endure some major inconveniences in the present. That’s definitely true in the ever-evolving material-handling industry, where everyone must work together to minimize the disruption to existing operations while implementing major changes.

* By John Paxton *

There’s a reason the phrase “no pain, no gain” is such an enduring cliché. All too often, if you want to make something easier or better in the future, you may have to endure some major inconveniences in the present. That’s definitely true in the ever-evolving material-handling industry, where buyers of new systems and technology and the suppliers who serve them must work together to minimize the disruption to existing operations while implementing major changes.

Managing that difficult transitional period when the old meets the new was identified as one of the top barriers to implementing new technologies when the Solutions Community conducted a poll of 75 members, and overcoming those barriers was a featured topic at the Solutions Community’s spring meeting, where members offered the following advice:

  • Be agile and incremental. Install during weekends and off-shift hours; perform dry-run tests.
  • Involve your employees. Capture “tribal knowledge” and engage workers early in the process to get buy-in.
  • Do side-by-side implementations if possible.
  • Focus on the relationship between the system and training. Make a training plan for the next two years, think of future on-site training in cycles, and account for potential future staff turnover.

To delve more deeply into this important issue, I recently spoke with four MHI Solutions Community members who deal with this topic every day: Matt Kulp, executive vice president, managing partner, St. Onge; John Reichert, senior director of SCE solutions, Tecsys; Rupesh Narkar, director of sales, logistics automation, Americas, Swisslog Logistics Inc.; and John Ashodian, segment marketing manager, SICK Inc. Here’s what they had to say.

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This issue of MHI Solutions tackles the important topic of digital technologies in the supply chain industry, especially as it relates the transportation and logistics. Transportation plays a central role in supply chains, whether they are local or global enterprises. And just like the overall supply chain, transportation is facing a digital revolution including new solutions for tracking road, rail, sea and air freight and parcel transportation. These digital technologies are disrupting the industry, but they are also providing im-portant new solutions for transportation inefficiencies and urban logistics challenges. They are also creating new digital business models that enhance transparency and sustainability and contribute to end-to-end supply chain visibility. Like the innovations impacting supply chains, these trends are being driven by the growth of e-commerce and the consumers’ never-ending need for better, faster and cheaper. Ignoring them is done at your own peril.

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