Human talent will remain core to the manufacturing and logistics space, but the adoption of new technology is inevitable. Whether it is to safeguard operations or improve efficiency, a variety of new technologies are well on their way to becoming commonplace in the industry. Here are five technologies to watch in the manufacturing and logistics space: 

Transportation Management Systems

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and the details of manufacturing and logistics are becoming even more complex. Transportation management systems (TMS), arising out of that challenge, are designed to manage the ins and outs of moving goods, according to TechTarget. Today, these systems are mostly cloud-based and integrated into larger enterprise resource planning and supply chain management platforms.

As the market for this technology grows at a rapid pace, users are finding significant return on investment. For example, a survey conducted by ARC Advisory Group found that companies using a TMS reported approximately 8 percent freight savings.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast system of technologies that enable the transfer of data. Things like wearable smart watches and smart home appliances are examples of how people use the IoT in everyday life. The IoT is already taking on a specific application in the manufacturing and logistics industry through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IIoT is made up of devices specifically designed to improve processes in the industrial space. For example, smart sensors can help capture and analyze data that be used to improve efficiency and quality control, according to IoT Agenda.

The global market value for the IIoT is expected to reach $933.62 billion by 2025, according to a report from Million Insights.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a major buzzword in nearly every industry. This shared digital ledger technology offers a secure way to track and record transactions, according to IBM.  Its potential applications in the manufacturing and logistics space are many. For example, blockchain could provide more transparency in the supply chain by providing a record of every single time an asset is moved all the way from manufacture to sale, according to Supply Chain 24/7. The technology is already being used in the space and it will only become more prominent going forward.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) adds virtual elements to an existing environment. While it has multiple applications in entertainment – think about the Pokémon Go app craze – AR is also making headway into the manufacturing and logistics industry. This technology has the potential to improve employee training and drive more efficiencies. For example, AR devices could show employees information on package contents and weight, cutting down the time it takes to find this information manually, according to Venture Beat.

Already large companies are integrating AR devices into their manufacturing processes. Boeing is using AR headsets in its wire assembly process, which has resulted in a 25% reduction in assembly time and reduced errors to approximately 0 percent, according to Transparency Market Research.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds like a futuristic concept, but this technology is making huge strides today. Machine learning, a type of AI, could streamline the entire supply chain process by offering real-time insight into process management and productivity. The introduction of autonomous vehicles, an iteration of AI-driven technology, could be a game changer for transportation and delivery in the manufacturing and logistics industry, according to Supply Chain 24/7.

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