- As automated technology becomes integrated with the supply chain, the design and location of manufacturing facilities will increasingly move to remote locations with cheaper real estate, according to a CBRE report released last week.
- Emerging technologies such as 3D printing, warehouse automation and self-driving trucks will forge significant changes in our shipping, retail and manufacturing supply chains by allowing companies to scale supply change as needed. Each of the technologies may reach widespread use by 2025, according to the press release.
- "While use of autonomous vehicles in shipping likely will allow for a greater emphasis on a few massive distribution centers in far-flung, less expensive locations, 3D printing meanwhile will result in many users needing more industrial space closer to customers to facilitate on-demand, custom manufacturing,” noted David Egan, CBRE's head of industrial & logistics research in the Americas.
While 3D printing has revolutionized manufacturing, there are some considerations that may make it just a bit less advantageous. Yes, the ability to create on-demand products will increase the efficiency of the supply chain, but there is considerable amounts of investment up front as well as storing the raw materials.
However, the advantages may outweigh the costs in the long run. When combined with automated trucking and picking technologies, which promise to reduce labor costs in the storage and transportation fields, 3D printing promises to decrease reliance on suppliers for sudden needs.
If companies bite the bullet on higher inventory costs or outsource those costs to specialized 3D printing logistics providers, they may, by 2025, severely reduce the costs associated with sudden disruptions and use analytics to better scale production with demand.
E-commerce may have been the beginning of a trend towards demand-driven supply chains, but 3D printing and other autonomous technology promises to make demand-driven supply chains cost effective, beyond their other benefits.