A new study shows that supply chain professionals are aware of the obstacles they face in the shipping and logistics industry, but that preparation to surmount those challenges is lagging.

The shipping and logistics industry lies at the crossroads of economic development. From mounting trade tensions to startup disruption, supply chain professionals often feel the effects of industrial trends before peers in other industries.

While they may be aware of what they need to do to keep pace with the evolving nature of consumer demand — especially in the age of e-commerce — that doesn’t mean that manufacturers and their business partners are doing everything they need to do to prepare for future success. Indeed, results from a survey conducted by Sikich reveals that many industry professionals are responding to challenges without an overarching strategy.

For third-party logistics (3PL) partners and the shippers who work with them, it’s never been more important to meet mounting obstacles head-on. From making the most of emerging technology to implementing talent acquisition protocols that bring the best and brightest into your operation, the most prepared business partners will have plans in place to succeed — now, and in the future.

A More Connected Global Supply Chain

The Internet of Things (IoT) has promised a smarter, more responsive supply chain. Embedded with sensors and supported by more precise GPS technology, IoT-enabled operations have the potential to offer supply chain managers real-time updates and better information, in turn allowing for more effective decision-making and problem-solving.

Despite these benefits, implementation of IoT tech in the shipping and logistics space has left something to be desired. According to the Sikich survey, only 9% of respondents are currently using IoT in their supply chains, while 14% are in the process of introducing it. Of the remaining survey participants, 30% said they don’t know what IoT is, among other responses.

Strategically Integrated Robotics

As it becomes harder and harder to find skilled workers for key warehousing roles, supply chain professionals are increasingly looking to robotics to fill the gap. Whether they’re autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) or automated guided vehicles (AGVs), more advanced and affordable units are coming on the market to assist with picking, packing, and sorting.

With that said, the actual deployment of robotics at key logistics junctures doesn’t match interest in the technology. Although more than half of survey respondents reported the use of robots in some part of their supply chain, 39% reported that none of their operations relied on automated support.

An Improved Talent Acquisition Hiring Process

Automation will be a boon for the shipping and logistics industry, but it can’t solve the labor shortage on its own. Instead, businesses will need to implement comprehensive hiring processes to bring the most qualified and driven workers into their operation.

For survey respondents, the lack of qualified workers is the primary barrier to growth in 2018. Indeed, as the economy strengthens and experienced prospects field competing offers, the stakes of developing a streamlined talent acquisition pipeline have never been higher. Despite this, only 11% of survey participants said that they’re building a talent pipeline prior to opening a position.

Stronger Working Relationships

Developing growth strategies for your supply chain’s technological and labor future is essential, especially at such a volatile moment in the shipping and logistics space. While larger businesses have the capital on hand to invest in IoT capabilities, advanced robotics, and supply chain talent acquisition, the bill for small and mid-sized companies may be prohibitive. By working with the most experienced 3PLs, however, operations of any size can leverage the infrastructure they need to scale.

With over two decades of experience, Primary Freight is a trusted partner for shippers of any size and budget. Thanks to our award-winning customer service team, skilled supply chain professionals, and cutting-edge infrastructure, we offer our clients unparalleled support. If your business is looking for the warmth of a smaller business and the institutional resources of a larger organization, Primary Freight can craft the right logistics solution for you.

If you’d like to learn more about how Primary Freight’s award-winning shipping services, contact us today at (800)-635-0013.