Product Tracking Flash Forward: The Future of Material Handling

In January 2014, a community of about 100 thought leaders published a report called The Material Handling & Logistics U.S. Roadmap, which identifies 10 major trends in the economy, technology and society that will shape the future of product tracking technologies.

The report indicates that changes in the modern economy suggest that, in the year 2025, material handling and logistics will have an even greater role in the economy and society than it does today. Much of this will be influenced by the “omni-channel consumer,” who may be standing in a store while he or she is buying the product online. It will also be influenced by the way products are distributed—think Amazon Prime and its promise of future drone deliveries—as well as by the need for complete transparency and visibility into the supply chain using real-time locator systems.

The reports top 10 megatrends include:
• The growth of e-commerce
• Relentless competition
• Mass personalization
• Urbanization
• Mobile and wearable computing
• Robotics and automation
• Sensors and the Internet of Things
• Big Data and predictive analytics
• The changing workforce
• Sustainability.

The 67-page report (www.mhlroadmap.org) goes into detail on the evolution of each area. And there’s a lot to think about. At a high level, the report states: “Imagine a world in which physical objects are able to communicate with people and information systems with low-cost sensors. Imagine a world in which nearly every fact a company needs is available instantaneously. Imagine a world in which sophisticated algorithms make low- and mid-level decisions optimally and automatically, leaving humans to perform tasks that require judgment and intuition. That world will be here by the year 2025.”

For complete coverage on tracking parts and materials on the fly, click here.

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