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MHI Annual Conference: Drone Applications in Supply Chain Beyond Package Delivery

Rafael Granato
by Rafael Granato on Oct 25, 2016 11:36:45 AM

According to a couple of drone related presentations at last week's MHI Annual Conference, the use of drones for package delivery has received a lot of attention ever since Jeff Bezos unveiled a video of an Amazon drone dropping off a package via drone on a 60 Minutes broadcast in 2012. But other applications in the supply chain are likely to emerge first.

Topics Covered at the 2016 MHI Annual Conference

In October 2016, the MHI Annual Conference was held near Tucson Arizona. Over two days, leaders and professionals in the supply chain industry—including representatives from PINC—gathered for a series of sessions where new innovations such as autonomous supply chain and human resource strategies were discussed.

One of the major topics that was discussed at the conference was the need to prepare for the next wave of talent recruitment and retention in the industry with the baby boomers aging and retiring. The other main topic was how new technological innovations like drones for package delivery are impacting the industry in general. Among these innovations, speakers gave particular mention to robotics, drones, wearables, and other disruptive technologies.

Drones for Package Delivery: A Hot Topic at the Conference

As expected, technology disruption in the supply chain was a hot topic at the MHI Annual—as it has been at industry conferences throughout the year. At the conference, two presentations were dedicated to drones or aerial robots and the way these technologies are transforming the way that autonomous supply chain and logistics companies operate.

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X, CTO of Skyward

Jonathan Evens Speaks

On the Monday of the conference, we heard a presentation by Jonathan Evens, CEO and X, CTO of Skyward on the current state of affairs in the drone industry as used for commercial activities. Skyward is a leading provider of software management for drones and their pilots and Jonathan’s presentation focused on the supply chain and logistics sector.

In his speech, Jonathan explained that there has been a huge increase of drone pilots in the United States since the FAA relaxed their qualification rules with Part 107 in late August. After this change in qualifying rules, over 13,000 drone operators have been certified for use. X spoke about different uses for drones and drones for package delivery, including short-term applications of drones in distribution center operations.

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Matt Yearling, CEO of PINC

A Presentation by the CEO of PINC, Matt Yearling

On Tuesday morning, our CEO Matt Yearling went into more detail about these opportunities when he spoke about new supply chain technologies that are disrupting the industry.

In his presentation, Matt spoke about PINCs’ 4 key use cases for robotic inventory technology (drones) in the logistics and supply chain industries. These are:

  • Trailer tracking in yards
  • Finished vehicle tracking for automotive manufacturers
  • High-value assets in laydown yards
  • Autonomous supply chain warehouse inventory checks

The executives and participants in the audience were very excited to discover that they are more tangible uses for drones in the near future than drones for last-mile package delivery.

For more detail and summaries of the two presentations, please refer to the article written by Dan Gilmore, Chief Editor for SCDigest: "Commercial Drone Interest is Exploding, While Applications Inside and Outside the DC Are Here Now, before Package Delivery"

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Rafael Granato
Written by Rafael Granato
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