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Trends and Emerging Technology in the Material Handling Industry in 2020

Technology is growing at an unprecedented rate, several of which are changing our society and now slowly making their way into the distribution centers and warehouses. Big data, automation, and on-demand e-commerce are all going to influence how products will move through the supply chain in 2020. The material handling industry has experienced substantial growth over the last few years and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2018 to 2024.


The following are some of the trends and emerging technology that will revolutionize the material handling industry in 2020.

1. On-Demand Ecommerce

With the rise of on-demand e-commerce, people are expecting to buy and receive goods anytime and anywhere, including same-day delivery. People can place orders from their vehicles, phones, and through several Internet of Things devices. The convenience offered will not only have an impact on how and when products will be ordered, but it will also have an impact on when products will be delivered.

Increasing convenience has created high expectations for same-day delivery. E-commerce giants have already changed customer expectations in the market and will continue to drive it even further, forcing other retailers to keep improving their material handling infrastructure to compete.

2. Big Data

To create a flexible and improve supply chain solutions, the industry will shift its focus from being mechanical to computer-controlled systems. This transition to a computer-controlled system will need a lot of assistance from big data. Such systems will use data including customer preferences, locations, purchase history, the flow of goods through the supply chain and potential future purchases to provide timely deliveries. Big data will also be able to make better staffing decisions and improved work schedules.

Apart from this, big data will also help in determining optimal downtime for maintenance and analyzing production schedules.

3. Automation

To meet growing consumer demand while maintaining low production costs, automation has played a critical role. Manufacturing and production units are looking for automated material handling systems such as automated guiding vehicles (AGV), automated storage (ASRS), and robots for sorting, picking and packing.

Although automation has made few jobs redundant, it is also creating new opportunities for the workforce. To run, maintain and operate these automated systems many new jobs are getting created.

Final Thoughts

The material handling industry’s future looks bright as the growth of the e-commerce market is fueling its further growth. The industry is currently undergoing disruptive changes as new trends and technologies are evolving continuously.

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