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  First Thoughts

    Dan Gilmore


    Supply Chain Digest

March 22, 2024

Review and Comment: MHI Annual Report 2024

Almost Totally Focused on Sustainability, with Interesting Green Profile Assessment

For many years. MHI (formerly known as the Material Handling Institute of America) issued an annual report that was mostly filled with statistics about how much conveyor, fork trucks and other materials handling equipment had been sold in the past year.

The report generally was issued around the time of one or the other of MHI’s two major trade shows that run bi-annually, now MODEX in even years and the older ProMat in odd years.

Gilmore Says....

The lowest stage, if you will, is “Observer,” which refers to companies that “have limited exposure to climate considerations or minimal experience implementing climate efforts,” among other attributes.

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But 11 years ago, as part of an overall effort to become a more influential player in the overall supply chain arena, MHI teamed with consuming firm Deloitte to produce a report that went far beyond equipment sales data to address a variety of supply chain issues, usually with a major theme, and based on a large pool of survey data.

I have generally found these reports to be good reads, and have provided reviews of the studies each year.

That introduction was to set up my review of the 2024 report, released in conjunction with MODEX 2024, just concluded as usual in Atlanta.

This year, the report is all about sustainability, made clear by this year’s title: The Responsible Supply Chain: Transparency, Sustainability, and the Case for Business, though it covers a lot more, such as the growth of “digital technologies.”

From the start of the report, there is connection made between sustainability and supply chain risk mitigation, with the report intro noting that “Mitigating disruption risk continues to be the top priority for today’s supply chain organizations, and will likely remain so far into the future."

The intro is followed by a long section on sustainability, with the report stating that (not surprisingly) “nearly half of this year’s survey respondents (48%) say they face increased influences to adopt a more sustainable supply chain,” with that pressure coming from every angle, including consumers, regulators, industry groups, traditional and social media, and other stakeholders.

Freight transport is of course a major source of CO2 emissions.

It’s become very serious business, with “with companies now expected to factor all available levers into their path for achieving net zero emissions,” the report notes.

Technology certainly provides critical tools to enable reduced emissions, with the report noting that “Supply chain technologies such as AI, digital twins, and analytics can improve ecosystem transparency and help enable positive sustainability impacts.”

The report includes the nice chart below that looks at what sustainability initiatives have the highest priority in companies:



Source: MHI 2024 Report

Probably not surprisingly, “electrification” of freight trucks and forklifts tops the list, cited as a high priority by 40% of respondents. That was followed by “natural resource management” (29%) and “water management” (27%) occupying the next two spots.

It’s a little commercially, but Deloitte uses the report to summarize a climate readiness assessment it offers. I am citing it here because I did like something Deloitte has developed as part of the assessment process, which is placing companies as belong to one of six climate “profiles.”

The lowest stage, if you will, is “Observer,” which refers to companies that “have limited exposure to climate considerations or minimal experience implementing climate efforts,” among other attributes.

At the other end of the spectrum, “Champions” have “a clear organizational vision and priorities on climate and take proactive steps to regularly integrate climate readiness into their mission and operations,” again among other characteristics.

Just based on the brief profiles provided in the report, it might be interesting to place your company into one of the six categories.

The next major section in the report is on technology innovation, but think I will end it here for this week and come back with a Part 2 of this review and comment next week.

The full report is available with easy registration here: The Responsible Supply Chain

What is your reaction to this year's MHI report? What would you add? Let us know your thought at the Feedback section below.

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