A critical milestone has been reached in MHI's (Material Handling Institute) plan to develop a "materials handling and logistics roadmap" that will help guide the industry through 2025.
In March, MHI announced the program, which has multiple goals.
According to Gary Forger, senior vice president for professional development at MHI, the mission of the roadmap project is "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."
Following from that broad mission, MHI expects the program will:
• Identify the challenges and opportunities facing material handling and logistics in the movement of resources and goods within and between facilities in the supply chain.
• Develop recommended actions that will advance material handling and logistics technologies, practices and workforce development in the next 3, 5, 10 years.
• Raise general awareness of the importance of material handling and logistics to the US standard of living and competitive position in the world.
• Educate government on key issues to the material handling and logistics industry.
• Generate ongoing dialog among thought leaders about material handling and logistics issues and performance levels.
One of the catalysts for the effort was a similar program from the Robotics Virtual Organization (Robotics VO), which released a conceptually similar roadmap in March of this year - an effort that gained the research some Congressional attention and support. MHI is hoping for similar success.
The robotics roadmap, for example, identified the following goals for US robotics development in the manufacturing sector over the next 15 years:
• 5 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new products with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in under 24 hours.
• 10 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new products with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in one 8-hour shift.
• 15 years: Achieve ability to set up, configure and program basic assembly line operations for new products with a specified industrial robot arm, tooling and auxiliary material handling devices in one hour.
While the MHI roadmap will certainly have a somewhat different structure, the basic approach is likely to be largely the same, with goals for materials handling technology and processes defined for 2020 and then 2025.
The first major phase of the project, gathering input from a variety of experts and thought leaders, has just been completed. A series of four two-day meetings wrapped up with a session in Chicago in late June, following similar meetings of about 25-30 participants in Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The participants included representatives from materials handling vendors, consultants, users/shippers, academics and more.
SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore participated in the Chicago session. As with the other sessions, participants were first asked to offer thoughts on how the world and society were likely to change by 2020 and then 2025, under the logical theory that material handling systems and technology will need to respond to changes in the broader environment.
(Supply Chain Trends and Issues Article - Continued Below)