Robotics 'most likely source of advantage or disruption'

19 April 2017

Eight in 10 supply chain and manufacturing executives believe digital supply chains will predominate in the future while 16% believe they already do, according to a survey.

A report by MHI and Deloitte found nine technologies will dominate next-generation “on-demand and always-on” supply chain models.

These are: cloud computing and storage, robotics and automation, sensors and automatic identification, predictive analytics, wearable and mobile technology, 3D printing, driverless vehicles and drones, inventory and network optimisation tools and the internet of things (IoT).

More than nine in 10 respondents believed at least one of the nine technologies could be a source of competitive advantage or disruption in their industry in the next 10 years. This was up from 83% last year.

Top technologies considered most likely to be a source of advantage or disruption were robotics and automation (61%, up from 39% in 2015) and predictive analytics (57%, up from 38% in 2015).

The rest of the top five were IoT (55%) – a technology which did not feature in the 2015 report – sensors and automatic identification (53%, up from 42% in 2015) and driverless vehicles and drones (54%, up from 30% in 2015).

Leading the adoption rates were cloud computing and storage, along with sensors and automatic identification, with 50% and 49% take-up respectively.

The adoption of these technologies is expected to grow to 73% and 70% respectively over the next two years.

In the same time period, the technology predicted to be most adopted is inventory and network optimisation, which is forecast to see a 75% adoption rate.

Robotics and automation are expected to reach a 63% adoption rate, followed by IoT at 54% and predictive analytics at 52%.

The survey, involving 1,100 supply chain and manufacturing executives, found hiring and retaining a skilled workforce continues to be the biggest obstacle facing supply chain professionals.

Some 63% of respondents reported the issue, up from 58% in 2016.

Meanwhile, half identified training their workforce to use new technologies as a top priority.

Customer demand for faster response times (55%) and customer demand for lower delivery cost (53%) were seen as other significant challenges.

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