Robotics will cause the most disruption in the supply chain in the next five years, according to a study carried out by the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville’s Global Supply Chain Institute, as first reported by Modern Materials Handling.
The study looked at the anticipated impact of five technologies on the supply chain on the next five years: 3D printing, driverless vehicles, drones, robotics and wearable technology, assessing the current and potential use of these technologies as well as the benefits and barriers to using them.
“Robotics have been around for more than 50 years, but they have become dramatically more dynamic in the last five,” said Paul Dittmann, Executive Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and the paper’s author. “They are no longer stationary, blind, expensive and unintelligent but can work alongside people and learn as jobs change.”
3D printing was deemed to be the least viable technology in the short term, though the study acknowledged that it has the potential to eliminate the supply chain completely if costs can be reduced and usable materials expanded.
“We are at a turning point in the industry where disruptive innovation is required to meet the exponentially growing customer expectations,” said Danny Halim, Vice President – Distribution and 3PL Strategies at JDA Software, one of the sponsors of the white paper.