Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2020

Dec. 17, 2020
MH&L salutes the most innovative advancements in supply chain technology, processes and labor management of the past year.

2020 will certainly go down in history as the Year of COVID-19, but maybe it’ll also go down as the year the supply chain came to the rescue. It certainly looked dicey early in the year, when retail shelves were bare, nobody—not even healthcare workers—could find face masks, airports were closed off to international and in some cases even interstate travel, workers were told to go home and stay there, and millions worldwide caught a deadly virus that nobody had even heard of until recently.

And yet, thanks to resilient supply chains able to pivot almost at a moment’s notice, manufacturers shifted their production capabilities to meet the unprecedented demand for things like respirators, ventilators, face shields and other personal protective equipment that typically only industrial hygienists and hospital staff were familiar with. Trucks, planes, boats and trains figured out a way to get products to their customers, and the last-mile capabilities of some retail superstars made home delivery not just an occasional luxury for consumers but their new standard way of shopping. And while it was a Presidential election year, the biggest topic of conversation this fall centered on how quickly a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed, produced and distributed. Yes, 2020 was quite a year.

Despite the virus (or in some cases, because of), the supply chain advanced in many other ways as well. In the following pages, we’ll look back at some of the most innovative, memorable or just plain awesome ways that technology and just-get-it-done inspiration have made supply chains better. We’ll revisit some of the most popular articles of the past year, as reported in print, on our website, in our e-newsletters, or our various social media channels. So before we completely write off 2020 with a “goodbye and good riddance,” let’s take a moment to celebrate the supply chain innovations that are giving us very real reason to anticipate better days to come in 2021!

Click the links below to compare this year's innovations to those from previous years:

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2019: delivery drones, traceability in pharma supply chains, digital twins, and more.

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2018: do-it-yourself logistics, truck platoons, autonomous boats, warehouse robotics, and more.

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2017: exoskeletons, autonomous forklifts, flying warehouses, last-mile delivery, and more.

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2016: robot pickers, bridge-inspecting drones, autonomous freight shuttles, and more.

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2015: solar-powered vessel, robot dispatcher, 3-D printed flight parts, and more.

Top 10 Supply Chain Innovations of 2014: hybrid DCs, 3-D prototypes, location-based inventory system, and more.

Supply Chain Innovators of 2013: paperless food chain, VLMs, cold chain fleet management, and more.