Thinking Outside the Box – Future Trends in the Supply Chain
The supply chain is not just a line item on the budget anymore. Logistics has a big impact on branding, which is why warehousing and material handling are constantly evolving in order to overcome challenges and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. Pallet Enterprise, the leading pallet and sawmill magazine, recently interviewed a group of material handling thought leaders on issues including automation, labor, transportation, and pallet usage.
It’s not shocking that automation, robotics, and new technologies are the dominant topics affecting material handling. But, you may be surprised to know it’s tough for companies to find the right blend between robotics and human labor. Many are still trying to optimize the person-machine interaction. Cost is another barrier that prevents businesses from adopting or even experimenting with new technologies. And, the use case aspect is still debatable. Does new software or systems really help improve productivity in a way that directly impacts delivery?
These ideas are discussed at length in the article. But, the main topic that caught our eye is speculation concerning the future role of pallets in the supply chain. As new technologies and methods evolve in material handling, those interviewed suggested the following could change the way companies approach the use of pallets.
THE FUTURE OF PALLETS
- Quantity – Will we need more pallets for home deliveries as more companies move to e-commerce?
- Size – Will we need smaller pallets to navigate into smaller, urban grocery stores?
- Design – If roll cages are widely adapted, will pallets be designed with wheels on the base? That way, products could be manually pushed off a truck without a need for a stacker or pallet jack.
- Usage – Will we use more reusable totes or containers instead? Products could be shipped in the manufacturer’s original packaging inside a reusable tote that a driver retains after delivery.
- Handling – Will the U.S. mandate stricter pallet sanitation requirements?
What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion; please comment below. To read the full article in its entirety, please visit Pallet Enterprise.