10 Game Changers that Transformed How Supply Chains Work (1945-2020)

Article from MHI Solutions Magazine

When you stop to think about it (which, admit it, you probably haven’t until now…), the supply chain world has changed radically in the past 75 years of MHI’s existence. The world didn’t even consider the acts of handling, moving, storing, protecting, controlling and disposing of materials as they traveled from source to manufacturer to end consumer (and all the stops in between) as being activities that comprise a “supply chain” until British logistician Keith Oliver coined the term in 1982.

Yet today’s supply chain wouldn’t be what it is without innovations in material handling equipment and technologies across the past seven-and-a-half decades. And, while numerous systems and solutions have impacted modern logistics, some stand out as being notable industry game changers. MHI Solutions asked a panel of industry veterans (each of whom specifically pointed out they are younger than MHI) to pinpoint 10 such examples, as well as to explain why their effects have been so significant. (See the sidebar for the full list.)

Our panel included:

•  John Hill, Director at MHI Member St. Onge Company

•  Bryan Jensen, Chairman and Executive Vice President of St. Onge Company

•  John Nofsinger, former CEO of MHI

•  John Paxton, COO and CEO Designate of MHI

•  Jim Tompkins, CEO of MHI member Tompkins International

From a broad perspective, the past 75 years of supply chain and material handling developments can be divided into three distinct eras, said Jim Tompkins, and the rest of the panel generally agreed with assertion. Tompkins classifies 1945–1974 as “Forklift to Mechanization”; 1975–2000 as “Mechanization to Automation”; and 2001 to 2020 as “Automation to Responding to Changes in the Business World.”

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