New Trends in Material Handling

Logistics Tech Outlook | Thursday, July 29, 2021

Demand for new materials is being driven by the transformations occurring in the energy, automotive, logistics, manufacturing, and construction industries, as well as by evolving industry 4.0 innovations.

FREMONT, CA: As technology advances and the market expands, the material handling industry has changed dramatically. But the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the supply chain and material handling industries.

Material handling is expected to benefit from a few key trends in the new decade. However, despite COVID-19's impact on the industry, the rest of the year's forecasted trends remain.

Automation of Robotics and Processes

Robotics has begun to reshape processes and productivity in the material handling industry. Manufacturing facilities are increasingly under pressure to produce high-quality products quickly with fewer resources.

COVID-19 has shown how quickly material handling companies must pivot if inventory, sourcing, or labour is disrupted. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, people's need for groceries, hand disinfectants, and toilet papers increased. As a result, manufacturers and supply chains are under enormous strain. Automated processes are critical for speed and productivity.

From conveyor belts to driverless forklifts, the material handling industry has evolved. Increasing robotics use automates supply chain processes. From workforce management and warehouse management strategies to faster delivery, automation will significantly impact the supply chain.

E-Growing Commerce's Popularity

However, despite the industry's gradual adoption of e-commerce in recent years, demand for online ordering continues to grow. With the growth of online businesses, consumers expect to receive their purchases quickly and reasonably. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more consumers sought to buy essential items online without leaving their homes.

E-commerce requires process flexibility, the ability to handle large volume orders, and efficient software systems.

During the pandemic, many businesses and supply chains were forced to adapt quickly. As a whole, this year has seen a high level of resilience and adaptability to the new "normal."

To embrace this trend, the supply chain industry improves data management, inventory management, shipment tracking, and customer experience.

Workforce Changes

As technology advances, automation will reduce the physical labour required of most supply chain workers. These changes are expected to change the workforce dynamic. With increased automation, workforce diversification is expected.

The Baby Boomer generation has historically dominated the material handling workforce. A diverse skill set, including working knowledge of emerging technologies, will be critical in hiring for the supply chain workforce in the future.

COVID-19 had a far more significant impact on the workforce than expected. As a result of the CDC's recommendations, many facilities had to reduce staff and adapt work environments. To keep facilities running at a high rate of speed, many workers are forced to adapt to new processes and take on new responsibilities quickly. Adding personnel to perform watering maintenance on flooded battery fleets can be prohibitively expensive in these unprecedented times.

Sustainability as a Priority

Environmentally friendly resource management has never been a high priority in the material handling industry's historical perspective. Maintaining environmental safety and preservation while performing standard procedures at a low cost can be difficult. However, as the decade progresses, more material handling companies are focusing on environmental impact.

Energy technologies are moving toward more sustainable sources. Material handling has benefited from this trend by prioritising cleaner battery technologies, recycling old products, and reducing their carbon footprint. As a result of this shift in priorities, corporations and employees are increasingly held accountable.

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