Transformation Age: Preview of Our Industry’s Next Chapter

By 2030, robotics and augmented reality will be in mainstream use for warehousing, manufacturing and distribution centers. Maritime shipping will be almost unrecognizable with ships that deploy artificial intelligence and use innovative, lighter-weight materials for faster, more efficient delivery of goods. And neurotechnology, the science of measuring brain function and translating the data into meaningful insights, will bring greater safety, productivity and learning to the workplace. The impacts of COVID-19 on supply chains will only accelerate these trends.

All of these scenarios (and more) are contained in the latest edition of MHI’s future-looking Roadmap publications: “Transformation Age: Shaping Your Future” (available online at Produced in a three-year cycle, these reports examine the societal, corporate, global, economic and technological shifts that will impact the success of material handling, logistics and supply chain organizations over the next 10 to 20 years. They also offer strategies to help organizations prepare to meet this dynamic era at all levels—from C-suite to operations.

“When we released the first Roadmap in 2014, the predictions for trends and technologies to take root in 15 years happened much, much faster,” said George Prest, MHI CEO. “That’s why we added the MHI Annual Industry Report—to serve as a yearly pulse check on the industry’s progress toward those projections. Yet, because the technologies’ sophistication and their impacts on future developments continually accelerated into our day-to-day reality far more quickly than anticipated, we decided to take a fresh look at the future every three years.”

That led to MHI producing a second Roadmap in 2017, and the third in 2020.

“This new edition provides a view out to 2030—and in a few areas out to 2040—while also providing actionable information for a narrower timeframe outlook because some anticipated trends and technological developments will gain traction in the near-term,” said Prest. “This report is also much broader in scope than previous editions. And, because of that, we’ve modified the format to make it very user-friendly and accessible.”

Instead of producing a printed document, the report is web-based, he said. “That allows readers to dive into the sections that are of particular interest or value to them, relative to where their business is currently and their vision of it for the future. We are also responding to our members’ growing preferences for receiving information in a digital format.”

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