Fascinating Future for the Supply Chain
It was terrific to take part in the recent LinkedIn Livestream on the Future of Supply Chain. In the one-hour session there was an incredible variety of subjects and technologies discussed. I had the opportunity to talk about how rugged mobile devices used in conjunction with forklifts were transforming the efficiency of loading and off-loading in logistics operations and how automatic picking solutions, using our rugged handheld devices with custom voice-enabled picking applications from TOUGHBOOK Omnia, were changing the way that mobile workers operate in the warehouse.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Ever heard of OTTOBAHN? Imagine goods and materials being transported high above the highways of our cities in fully sustainable and autonomously managed electric pods that are constantly monitored remotely to ensure optimal conditions. Alternatively, how about using a Hyperloop system to travel extreme distances at superspeeds in cabins floating in vacuums? These are just some of the incredible supply chain transport systems being worked on today and showcased during the event.
The Livestream was designed to show how organisations throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing, to logistics and retail are optimising their business and introducing sustainable practices using the latest technologies.
For example, how the latest cold chain storage solutions, such as Panasonic’s Vixell, could help third party logistics or pharmaceutical companies reduce their carbon emissions and improve circularity through the reuse of these vacuum insulated cooling boxes.
Battle for the shelves
We heard how the latest Electronic Shelf Labels and AI-driven software applications can help retailers win the battle of the shelves. How temperature controlled Smartlockers are opening new opportunities for retailers and last mile deliveries. In the logistics and warehousing space, we saw automated digital image systems such as the Image ID solution from Zetes or the Visual Sort Assist for the efficient receipt and delivery of inbound and outbound goods. In manufacturing, Panasonic’s smart factory solutions were discussed as the building blocks for automated manufacturing and the move towards Industry 4.0. How they can offer everything from production line machinery, robot and welding solutions through to manufacturing management software.
Harnessing Edge Tech
Blue Yonder, the Panasonic owned partner company and world leader in supply chain management software, explained how edge technologies are becoming the new digital hands, eyes and ears of the supply chain offering insight and opportunities to organisations like never before. Everything from automating check-in and check-out procedures at the yard gate to providing real-time visibility of inventory as it moves through the lifecycle, through to tracking the environmental conditions of shipments throughout the supply chain.
And to help organisations continue to innovate, Panasonic Industry showed its Internet of Things prototyping toolkit, which provides developers with everything they need to create their own applications, such as energy efficient Bluetooth data transfer and air quality monitoring applications. And last, but by no means least, was the glimpse into the future of transportation systems. Panasonic already has a long history of contribution to sustainable transport systems with its involvement in electric vehicles and ebikes. The news that OTTOBAHN and TUM Hyperloop are building test tracks and a larger prototype respectively at facilities on or neighbouring Panasonic campuses in Germany was amazing news. Seeing these visions brought to life on the livestream really underlined the incredible role technology will play in the future of an efficient and sustainable supply chain.
But don’t worry if you missed the show, it’s still available to watch. If you operate in the supply chain, then I think it’s a must see.