The UNEX Blog

Meeting the Challenge of Supply Chain Innovation

The 2018 MHI Annual Industry report has been released, and its findings are right on the nose. Titled "Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Innovation," the results from this fifth annual survey on supply chain innovation and challenges show that much has changed since that initial report came out in 2014 – and much has not.


For instance, the 2014 report cited supply chain executives’ top two strategic priorities (analytics and multichannel fulfillment); top two barriers to innovation (a talent shortage and cost-reduction pressures); and top three emerging innovations to watch (sustainability, mobility/machine-to-machine technology, 3-D printing).

supply chain innovation
In the 2018 report, respondents cited their top challenges as consumer demand on supply chain (73%) and hiring qualified workers (64%). The number of key innovations they’re eyeing increased from just three in 2014 to 11 in 2018: robotics & automation (65%); predictive analytics (62%); Internet of Things/IoT (59%); artificial intelligence (53%); inventory & network optimization (53%); driverless vehicles & drones (52%), wearable & mobile technologies (45%); cloud computing and storage (40%); blockchain/distributed ledger technologies (35%); and 3-D printing (35%).

Realistically, supply chain pressures have not so much changed as amplified and intensified exponentially.

As the report’s intro bluntly notes, “Today’s supply chain does much more than just physically move materials and product from place to place. In an increasingly digital world, supply chains are the backbone of an information ecosystem in which a connected and carefully coordinated set of movements and actions must be tracked at every level in order to maximize efficiency and meet customer demands for increased flexibility, visibility, and transparency.”

In just five short years, supply chain execs have shifted from warily contemplating technology’s applications and impact on a changing industry to confronting the hard realities of the digital, omni-channel world. Surveys like the one from MHI give us all insights into what we’re facing – and help us fix our focus on the future as we develop solutions.

With customer expectations going through the roof, UNEX Manufacturing knows what it takes to speed fulfillment operations so you can meet the market’s demand. UNEX has the systems to help retailers, assemblers, distributors and manufacturers get products into the queue and out the door quicker. Contact your UNEX Pickologist today for details.