There is an ever-increasing interest in emerging technologies for supply chain. When thinking of your end-to-end supply chain (from your suppliers’ suppliers through your manufacturing and distribution operations to your customers’ customers), you must consider technology to have a hope of achieving success. 

In today’s Amazon-impacted environment, rapid information and product flow must be accompanied with low-cost and efficient supply chains to maximize the customer experience, profitable growth and cash flow.  Several of trending technologies to consider in your strategic discussions include the following:

  1. Additive manufacturing such as 3D printing – it is no longer just for R&D.  The progressive distributors are printing to order for items that used to require vast inventory and lead time.
  2. Collaborative customer technologies – programs such as vendor managed inventory, collaborative planning and innovative logistics partnerships can drive tremendous value.
  3. The internet of things is certainly taking on a life of its own – how do you plan to utilize in your supply chain?
  4. If you support retail (and even if you don’t) and don’t have e-commerce, you have missed the boat!  
  5. Robotics – there are plenty of uses for robotics throughout manufacturing and supply chain.  Have you considered what might add value for your business?  Robotics could give you a 24/7 flexibility….

Staying on top of emerging and/or trending supply chain technologies is a must to succeed in today’s Amazon-impacted world.  Don’t get carried away with the latest fads.  Instead, take a step back and think strategically about what will support your business today, tomorrow and 5 years from now.  Selectively integrate the appropriate technologies to accelerate your growth and success.