Welcome to the 2016 MH&L Innovation Awards, an annual tradition celebrating advances in people, processes, technology and numerous other supply chain best practices. Believe it or not, Donald Trump’s election wasn’t the only significant event of the past year, and in the following pages, you’ll be reminded of some of the most remarkable and potentially game-changing developments in the world of material handling and logistics.
We’ve combed through an entire year’s worth of reporting to uncover some of the most popular trend stories that appeared on our website, our various social media channels and newsletters. You can click on the links at the end of each slide to read the original articles in their entirety.
Enjoy this tribute to award-winning excellence, and here’s to hoping that 2017 is abundant with even more supply chain innovations.
You can see the top innovations from previous years by clicking on the links below:
Autonomous Freight Shuttle Debuts at Texas Port
Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Freight Shuttle System (FSS) has been developed to move truck trailers and containers through congested ports and border crossings. The FSS allows cargo to travel on elevated platforms at sea ports, border crossings and other heavily congested areas in order to expand shipping capacity, expedite trade and reduce congestion on highways. Additionally, the FSS is designed to enhance road safety, improve efficiency and significantly lower emissions and pollution.
Click here to read the full story.
MIT and TI Develop Hack-proof RFID Chip
Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have developed a new type of radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that they say is virtually impossible to hack. If such chips are widely adopted, it could mean that an identity thief couldn’t steal your credit card number or key card information by sitting next to you at a café, and high-tech burglars couldn’t steal swipe goods from a warehouse and replace them with dummy tags.
Invisible Marker to Help Fight Counterfeit Products
A new technology that puts an invisible but digitally traceable marker on products to ensure that a product is not counterfeit has been developed by eApeiron. The technology is tailored for retail and e-commerce, including a tagging system that offer a signature profile for identifying and tracking products throughout the supply chain. The track and trace technology incorporates unique, serialized visible and invisible marks onto products or packaging that can be authenticated, tracked in a database, and traced throughout the supply chain.
Using Wearable Devices to Protect Workers in Extreme Environments
North Star BlueScope Steel, a steel producer for global building and construction industries, is taking part in a research project that uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology developed by IBM Watson to protect workers in extreme environments. The research project aims to identify potentially troublesome conditions by collecting data from various sensors that continuously monitor the worker’s skin body temperature, heart rate, galvanic skin response and level of activity, correlated with sensor data for ambient temperature and humidity.
Can a Robot Be a Picker’s Best Companion?
DHL Supply chain is pilot testing robot technology for collaborative automated order picking in a warehouse located in Germany. EffiBOT, a robot developed by French start-up Effidence, is a fully automated trolley that follows pickers through the warehouse and takes care of most of the physical work. It is specifically designed to work safely with and around people. During the test, two robots supported the pickers by carrying the weight and automatically dropping off the orders once fully loaded.
Drones Being Deployed to Inspect Bridges
In an effort to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and save money, 33 state departments of transportation are testing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to inspect bridges and assist with clearing vehicle crashes, among other applications. A traditional bridge inspection typically involves setting up work zones, detouring traffic and using heavy equipment. The drones are able to capture data in near real-time, and cause far less distraction and inconvenience to drivers.
Maersk Tests Drone Delivery to Cargo Ship
Maersk Tankers is testing delivery to vessels on drones that have been certified for explosive environments, meaning that with a tanker the drones cannot create any spark even if they were to crash. The use of drones is cost-effective as there can be high costs for on-board delivery of small parcels, filled with urgent spare parts or mail. Costs for a barge are on average $1,000 and can be higher. Drone use with the current payload could bring potential savings of $3,000-$9,000 per vessel per year.
Mercedes to Bring Electric Truck to Market in 5 Years
Daimler AG has developed and plans to manufacture a 26-metric-ton electric truck, called the Mercedes-Benz Urban eTruck, as the company’s entry into the market. The model will be targeted for inner-city tasks such as supermarket deliveries and have a range of about 120 miles per battery charge. About 10% of trucks make deliveries in urban areas, making them an appropriate choice to be electrified. Electric battery technology has not yet progressed to the point to make long-haul electric trucks feasible.
New Standard Developed to Calculate Carbon Footprints of Supply Chains
A universal method to calculate the carbon footprint of the logistics supply chain has been developed by the Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC). This new standard will make it possible to consistently calculate emissions at a global level, including road, rail, inland waterways, ocean, air and trans-shipment centers. The GLEC Framework for Logistics Emissions Methodologies combines existing methods into a single framework, and it carries the World Resources Institute “Built on GHG Protocol” mark, making it compatible with global carbon accounting standards.
Internet of Things Improves Forklift Efficiency by 10%
Itamco, a manufacturer of precision-machined components, has connected its forklifts to the industrial Internet of Things (IoT). A communication system notifies a material handler as soon as materials are ready to go to the next work area within Itamco’s manufacturing facilities. Each forklift is linked to Itamco’s ERP system through its GPS and an application on a smart tablet mounted in the forklift. Forklift operators are notified via their smart devices when they’re needed. Itamco has seen a 10% reduction in the time it takes to get material ready for the next operation.
Drones & Autonomous Vehicles
Trump & the Supply Chain
MH&L's Exclusive Salary Surveys
Trends in Material Handling & Logistics
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