sc digest
May 19, 2017 - Supply Chain Flagship Newsletter

This Week in SCDigest

bullet A Materials Handling Roadmap 2.0, Part 1 bullet SC Digest On-Target e-Magazine
bullet Supply Chain Graphic & by the Numbers for the Week bullet Holste's Blog/Distribution Digest
bullet New Cartoon Caption Contest Begins bullet Trivia      bullet Feedback
bullet New Expert Columns bullet New On Demand Videocast

Townhall Meeting Available on Demand

How DOM and WMS Work Together
to Power Omnichannel Supply Chains

Featuring Dan Gilmore, Editor,
Kevin Hume of well-known consulting firm

Tompkins International and Satish Kumar, a vice president at Softeon

Now Available On Demand

first thought


Supply Chain Graphic of the Week
Another View of the Top Supply Chain Challenges


Congestion Costs US Carriers and Shippers Big Bucks

First Autonomous Container Ship Said to be Ready to Sail Soon
US Manufacturing Output Starting to Edge Up
Rail Carriers Once Again have Strong Profits


May 15, 2017 Contest

See The Full-Sized Cartoon and Send In Your Entry Today!


Holste's Blog: Dispelling Common Fears Associated With Automation Projects


Weekly On-Target Newsletter:
May 17, 2017 Edition

New Cartoon. Amazon Delivery Fail, Manufacturing Jobs, DC Metrics and more

The China Factor: Global Trade’s Big Hub

by Gary M. Barraco
Global Product Marketing
Amber Road

Simplify Supply Chain Forecasting

by Henry Canitz
Product Marketing & Business Development Director

2019 will be the 150th anniversary of what major event in US transportaton history?

Answer Found at the
Bottom of the Page

A Materials Handling Roadmap 2.0, Part 1

In 2014, MHI (formerly the Material Handling Industry of America, an industry trade association), released what it called a "Roadmap for Materials Handling 2025."

That future-looking report was noteworthy for a couple of reasons, starting with it was really the first major initiative from MHI to expand beyond its traditional and primarily "four-wall" oriented roots to associate itself with broader supply chain themes and topics.

This transition, of which the change in the organization's name to just MHI is emblematic, has been accelerated greatly since George Prest took over as CEO in 2011, and has manifested itself in many ways, including: (1) partially successful efforts to make it's biannual MODEX tradeshow in Atlanta more of a supply chain, not just materials handling, event; (2) the dramatically revamped "annual report," which was transformed from a mostly "inside baseball review" of the materials handling marketplace to a supply chain thought leadership piece, co-authored for the last few years with Deloitte; and (3) attempts to transition its annual conference from a members-only event to a broader supply chain forum that would attract non-member practitioners - a effort that is still a work in progress.


I will note the "tyranny of now" is a good way to describe the pressure that forces retailers to offer profit-crushing free shipping because everyone else does.


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As a side note, MHI's model is to offer membership at a company level - materials handling equipment and systems providers, software firms, some consultants - similar in that regard say to the National Retail Federation (NRF) - versus professional organizations such as CSCMP, WERC, and ISM, that are built on memberships at an individual level (even though most offer a form of corporate membership, but not in the same way).

This has many ramifications, which I may sort out one day.

The first Roadmap's mission was to "to assemble a broad community of thought leaders with a stake in the future of material handling and logistics technologies and practices to create an industry roadmap that will increase productivity, reduce costs, create jobs and improve the global competitiveness of the US," according to then senior vice president for professional development at MHI Gary Forger, who officially retired last year but was still involved in a new Roadmap released in April.

One of the catalysts for the initial MHI Roadmap effort was a similar effort from the Robotics Virtual Organization, which released a conceptually similar roadmap in early 2013 - an effort that led to some attention and support from the US Congress. MHI was hoping for similar success.

Key to the first Roadmap and this latest one were a series of four events in cities such as Atlanta and Chicago, in which roughly 50 supply chain professionals from materials handling vendors, consultants, users/shippers, academics and more were brought together for a couple of days to discuss relevant topics and themes and provide the key fodder for the end Roadmap. I participated in one of these meetings - which was interesting - for the first report, but decided for me personally it wasn't worth the time last year to attend one of these enclaves for the 2017 Roadmap.

The structure of "Material Handling & Logistics US Roadmap 2.0" is very different from the first version, for reasons not completely clear. The 2014 edition was largely oriented around a discussion of key supply chain disruptors (e.g., the growth of ecommerce; urbanization) and then a related set of core competencies that these changes demand companies embrace (e.g., collaboration, supply chain visibility).

The 2.0 Roadmap, by contract, is organized around four key mega-themes: technology, consumers, workforce issues, and infrastructure. Whether this was a smart change or not I will leave to part 2 of this review, but the overall theme running through the document is the incredible pace of change supply chain organizations and practitioners are facing.

"Unbelievable and surreal aptly describe our daily rate of change across the board," the new report notes, citing a long laundry list of developments just in the past few years that supply chains need to grapple with, from last mile delivery to the "gig" economy.

In the report's introduction, it cites some interesting comments that came out of those four discussion group meetings I noted above. For example, mentioned is a discussion on how permanent a material handling system should be in a warehouse, with one participant suggesting that all equipment should be leased for five years and then replaced with an updated system.

"That doesn't happen today, but no one said the idea was a bad one. It could well be standard practice by 2030," the report says.

Another participant said "Warehousing has changed so much in the past 5 years that I have to be careful not to hire experienced people who do not recognize the shifts." That's very interesting indeed.

I am now going to summarize some of the highlights of the technology and consumer report themes in this column, then address the workforce and infrastructure sections in a part 2.

The pace of change in technology that directly or indirectly impacts the supply chain is extraordinary, as the report notes and most of us perceive clearly.

These change bring opportunities - and concerns.

Those concerns "range from ordinary security of data and physical items to causing massive unemployment by eliminating jobs to combinations of technologies that could be wrongly used to significantly damage humanity," the report notes.

This leads to interesting questions. The report, for example, says it is possible that artificial intelligence will make most human work obsolete. Is that good or not so good?

The report adds that "technology is most likely to be the strongest driver of change today and for the foreseeable future in the supply chain," in large part because it will have a profound impact on the other three themes of the Roadmap.

The report says that during the Roadmap 2.0 workshops, three trends dominated the technology discussions. (1) Increasing scope, deployment and sophistication of the integrated system of Cloud computing, connectivity, sensors and the Internet of Things; (2) Broad use of advanced artificial intelligence, particularly when deployed in the Cloud, will scale so resources can be applied to address problems with huge computing requirements; and (3) The rising importance of security and risk in both the physical and cyber domains as the availability and usage of data escalates.

That's a pretty good list, to which I would add the rise of robotics in the supply chain.

On the consumer theme, the report notes the buying habits of traditional consumers and business consumers are converging, and "It hasn't always been that way."

The report also notes that within its horizon to year 2030, so called Millennials will be already knocking on middle age. What will the coming wave, often called iGen or GenZ bring? No one has any real idea -  they will both influence and be influenced by the environment.

The report indicates that traditionally, the business purchasing process took lots of time, working through purchasing managers, sales meetings, pricing negotiations, etc.. That process is changing at an increasing pace, to a more ecommerce orientation.

"This trend is in place but not yet universal by any means. It will be." the report notes.

Whether it's true consumer demand or consumers are being pushed there by Amazon and others, "The tyranny of now will only become more domineering, causing a relentless re-engineering of how material handling, logistics and the supply chain will work going forward," the report says.

I will note the "tyranny of now" is a good way to describe the pressure that forces retailers to offer profit-crushing free shipping because everyone else does.

The report says that there are five key questions for sellers that drive current consumer behavior, notably on-line: (1) Do they have what I want/need? (2) How much is it? (3) When can I get it? (4) How do I get it?; and (5) Do I trust you?

I will note that normally there would be an inverse relationship between how fast I can get it and how much it is going to cost, a relationship that Amazon is simply blowing up - for now at least.

There is much more I can and will say, but I am out of room. Look for part 2 soon. Full report can be found here: Material Handling & Logistics US Roadmap 2.0

What is your reaction to Gilmore's Part 1 summary of MHI's 2017 Roadmap? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

View Web/Printable Version of this Column

New On Demand Videocast:

How DOM and WMS Work Together to Power Omnichannel Supply Chains

Experts from Tompkins International and Softeon Set the Record Straight in Fast Paced, Q&A Format

This discussion will be based on an outstanding new "Executive Brief" on this same topic, developed jointly by Kevin Hume of Tompkins International and Satish Kumar, a vice president at Softeon.

Featuring SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore, Kevin Hume of well-known consulting firm Tompkins International and Satish Kumar, a vice president at Softeon.

Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

New Cloud WMS Solution is Game Changer for Warehouse Management Deployment and Flexibility

New Technology and Deployment Approach Offer a Simply Better Way to WMS Implementations - Learn How

In this outstanding Videocast, we will cover the latest in each-picking robotics, co-bots, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, sensors, drones and droids.

Featuring  Dan Gilmore, Editor, along with Mark Hawksley and Bruno Dubreuil of TECSYS, a leading provider of WMS solutions.

Available On Demand

On Demand Videocast:

Innovation in Shipper-3PL Relationships Benchmark Study Results

New Research will be Unveiled from SCDigest and JDA On This Increasingly Important Topic

In this outstanding broadcast, SCDigest and JDA recently completed new research study on innovation in shipper-3PL relationships, with the goal of obtaining the perspectives of both shippers and service providers on this increasingly important topic. All registrants will be sent a copy of the report will all the data shortly after the Videocast.

Featuring SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore and Danny Halim and Lori Harner of JDA.


Available On Demand


Some miscellaneous Feedback this week, most triggered by our recent coverage of ProMat and WERC 2017.

Feedback on SCDigest ProMat 2017 Coverage


Excellent overview and summary. Thanks

Do we have feedback of the actual saving in time and money that implemented systems have produced? I know specifics are difficult to come by, but some heuristic parameters would be useful.


Blair Williams
Master Instructor APICS CSCP, CLTD

Editor's Note:

We don't really have that kind of data yet - there is really no time at these shows to get into it, and you are talking to vendors, not companies using the technologies.

But we will do what we can.

Dan Gilmore


Your video coverage of ProMat, especially breaking the full day videos into individual solution clips, is simply outstanding.

I understand just how much work you must do to pull this off - not sure how you do it, but it is of great service to the industry.

Congratulations and Dan and Cliff Holste for this great work!

Aaron Klein
St. Louis





The addition on video on most of the solutions in addition to your verbal commentary makes your coverage outstanding, and I believe totally differentiated from any of the other publications.

Excellent job.

You and Holste play well off each other in terms of your insights.

I watch both videos through from end to end.

Michael Jervis

Sandusky, OH


Feedback on SCDigest Video Review of WERC 2017



Just watched your video review - Great work!

I wish that I had seen the Lean presentation you discussed, The "envelope" process really gave me something to think about regarding how we sometimes don't really analyze a process well. The first example sounds more practical - but it requires more "touches" associated with pickup up envelopes and laying them back down after each step.

The second example shortens the time due to only picking up the envelope once. After you fold, pick up the envelope and insert, the lick and stamp processes are required and will take less time if the envelope is already in hand.

Like the "Beer Game" this demonstration can provide insight into "Learning to See."

Steven R. Murray
Lead Auditor and Senior Research Associate
Warehousing Education and Research Council



Q: 2019 will be the 150th anniversary of what major event in US transportaton history?

A: The completion of the first transcontinental railroad, when Central Pacific Railroad Company of California CEO Leland Stanford drove in the so-called "golden spike."

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