Published: Jan 17, 2014 1:35:00 PM
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Amazon recently raised a lot of eyebrows by experimenting with delivery drones to handle packages across the United States. This innovative shipping method has opened discussion on the future of the material handling and logistics industry and how it can meet technological change.
Kevin Gue, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Auburn University, has been part of a leadership group that developed a roadmap, or planning document, on how to address and evolve with changes in the industry. With Gue’s research specialties in warehousing, material handling, and order fulfillment, he was able to examine how emerging technologies could have a direct impact on companies now and 10 to 15 years down the road.
“As the document describes, there are many problems that individual companies will have to solve in the future, such as robotic order picking, automated truck loading and even, maybe, home delivery by unmanned drones,” Gue said.
The roadmap took more than a year to develop, and the group held four workshops in cities around the United States to address questions in the industry including what life will look like in 2025 and how business should be preparing now. This led to conversations regarding the workforce, suppliers, and planning systems involved in this industry. The overwhelming consensus was that stakeholders may be focusing too much on the present, and not spending enough time preparing for the future.
“My experience with companies is that they are often worried about quarterly results or this month’s sales figures, and sometimes they struggle to sit back and reflect on where things are going. The roadmap is an opportunity for everyone to ask the big questions,” Gue said.
Companies such as Amazon are echoing his findings with their home delivery advancements, and according to Gue, will set the precedent and could empower themselves to be among the most successful within the industry moving into the future.
Gue said he hopes other stakeholders will use the roadmap as a guide to make industry changes to keep up with the evolving technologies of the future.