Pandemic Spurs Accelerated Investment in Supply Chain Automation, Digital Technologies

Pandemic Spurs Accelerated Investment in Supply Chain Automation, Digital Technologies

Digital technologies and automated solutions will help your supply chain succeed in this new, post-pandemic reality. For starters, they increase resilience in the face of disruption and support your workforce.

The unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed the trajectory of businesses, consumers, and supply chains. Organizations that accelerate the implementation of digital and automated technologies to increase their visibility, flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness are best positioned for success.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are increasingly being applied throughout supply chains. These solutions help organizations of all sizes synthesize massive amounts of data, then evaluate various scenarios and situations in nanoseconds to extract actionable information in real-time.

Algorithmic AI and ML allow workers at all supply chain levels to further leverage innately human skills such as collaboration, negotiation, persuasion, and problem solving, which are not likely to be replaced by digital technologies.

For example, these solutions digitize the decision-making process, yielding increased supply chain visibility and agility through better risk management. They do this by comparing multiple scenarios to predict the most likely outcomes, then generate options for supply chain leaders to assess and select the best course of action based on the business rules and objectives of the company.

Further, AI and ML can be used to examine external data, such as news and social media feeds. By monitoring for terminology that suggests a potential disruption in a given area—labor strikes, natural disasters, extreme weather, political unrest, port fires—the technologies create an alert, enabling an operation to counteract a potential supplier issue.

In the warehouse and distribution center, AI and ML are increasingly being leveraged within collaborative robotics, autonomous mobile robots, and automatic guided vehicles. These machines are not replacing human workers, but rather are taking over mundane, repetitive, tiring, error-prone, or dangerous tasks—such as manual sortation or long-distance travel for picking. This enables personnel to advance into higher value, higher margin tasks that keep them engaged. It also allows operations to safeguard worker health.

Roadmap to the Future

These are just a few ways that by teaming humans with digital and automated technologies, organizations experience greater gains through cost reductions, increased efficiency, and higher value. Other examples can be found in MHI’s most recent future-looking Roadmap publication, “Transformation Age: Shaping Your Future” (available online at

Additionally, other accelerated technology and digital investments include Cloud computing as a means to support faster collection and analysis of data from multiple sources within a network. Those sources include not only Tier One suppliers, but increasingly Tier Two and Tier Three. They also encompass a wealth of operational data enabled by Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices and sensors.

How will these digital technologies and automated solutions help your supply chain succeed in this new, post-pandemic reality? One way to find out is by participating in ProMatDX—the most comprehensive digital manufacturing and supply chain experience in 2021. ProMatDX sponsors will display the latest technologies and solutions that support digital supply chains.

ProMat is scheduled for April 12-16, 2021 at At ProMatDX, you’ll experience the latest automation, technologies, and innovations helping companies power up their supply chains in sponsor showcases, product demos, educational sessions, and keynotes. Many of the solutions discussed here will be on display, including sensors, Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, robotics and automation, predictive analytics, AI, ML, wearables, mobile technologies, and much more.

For more information or to register, please visit

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