New product distribution channels are directly impacting the amount of data in both online and brick-and-mortar stores. In other words, distribution technology like POS systems is providing data in real time to suppliers and distributors. Meanwhile, ecommerce is driving better forecasting capabilities and enhancing inventory management, which translates into better optimization of freight, inventory management processes, and packaging needs.
The workforce is aging and millennials are looking for jobs involving technology, and days of manual labor as the sole workforce are ending. Furthermore, government regulations on occupational safety and hazards are forcing today’s distributors to use robotics wherever possible. In addition, the speed and accuracy of robotics in picking, packaging, and loading shipments is helping a stressed supply chain meet the needs of a growing customer base around the globe. Of all the distribution technology trends, Robotics is one that is already gaining much traction in several distribution centers across the world.
Hours of service guidelines are also changing for drivers. Drivers are being required to make more stops and avoid long hauls as much as possible. Meanwhile, technologies are being mandated to ensure drivers that violate these requirements are held accountable. For example, electronic logging devices are automatically notifying carriers and shippers of HOS violations, which could impact the overall operation. The Internet of Things has been discussed at length in terms of how it impacts visibility and communication in the supply chain and more companies are deploying radio frequency identification (RFID), Bluetooth monitoring, and machine to machine connected devices to monitor and manage their shipments more accurately.