2021was supposed to be the year that everything got back to normal, but we’ve all seen how that turned out. If2020 was The Year of COVID- 19, 2021 ended up becoming TheYear the Supply Chain Broke, or at least that’s how the popularmedia has been describing it. Countless photos of backloggedcargo ships waiting at ports for days on end, empty retail shelvesand “Help Wanted” signs in front of every trucking companyhave become symbolic of everything that’s gone wrong since thepandemic threw what had been a roaring economy into a tailspin.
And yet, despite all that, the supply chain continues to getthings done—maybe not quite as quickly as everyone would like,but from all indications the 2021 holiday season could be the biggest ever. And with a freshly-approved trillion-dollar infrastructure plan now in place, those roads, bridges, ports and highwayprojects that have languished in logistics limbo for far too longmay someday soon become a reality.
Every year, we take a look back at some of the most innovativeand potentially game-changing technologies that have helped energize supply chains, and 2021 had more than its share of just-plain-awesome ideas and solutions. What follows is a quick retrospective of some of the most popular articles of the past year,as covered in print, on our website, in our e-newsletters, or ourvarious social media channels. So while a lot went wrong in thesupply chain in 2021, let’s close out the year by looking at someof the ways things went right.
Robots Help FedEx Sort PackagingA robotic sorting system for packages at FedEx’s Queen’s, NY, facility has proven to provide significant benefits. FedEx Ground implemented Berkshire Grey’s RoboticProduct Sortation and Identification (RPSi) systems at this station.
Berkshire Grey executed the systems torobotically sort the thousands of small packages that arrive daily in bulk into containersbound for other specific hubs and stationsacross the FedEx Ground network.
The system has been engineered to autonomously process—pick, identify, sort, collect, and containerize—individual polybags,tubes, padded mailers, and other small packages that traditionally are sorted manually.
FedEx Ground intends to install similarrobotics systems at sortation facilities in LasVegas and Columbus, Ohio.
The system automatically handles highvolumes of small packages in small spaces
Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2021
A salute to the most innovative achievements in supply chain technology,processes and labor management from the past year.
By Dave Blanchard and Adrienne Selko
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