There aren’t a lot of user group meetings in the supply chain arena any more, certainly not like the lavish affairs we used to see before the Internet bubble burst back at the turn of the century. But one company doing its best to keep that spare-no-expense tradition alive is Dematic, with its annual Material Handling & Logistics Conference. Held again this year at a Park City, Utah, mountain resort, MHLC 2014 featured no less than former President George W. Bush as the featured dinner speaker, Sugar Ray Leonard as a luncheon speaker, Cheap Trick as musical entertainment… and most importantly, an impressive lineup of supply chain experts and practitioners.
The topics spanned the full gamut of supply chain management. While there were plenty of sessions that fit comfortably in Dematic’s wheelhouse of material handling systems—automated warehouses, omni-channel distribution, reverse logistics, warehouse control systems—there were just as many presentations dedicated to other areas of SCM, such as transportation, reshoring, Big Data analytics, global trade compliance and lean manufacturing. There were even entire tracks dedicated to leadership and career development. So not your garden variety users conference by any means.
In the accompanying slideshow, you’ll see more or less in chronological order some of the highlights of the sessions that I attended (or, in one case, that I led). If nothing else, you’ll get a sense of how rapidly the material handling and logistics field is evolving to take on the challenges of an ever-faster, ever-more-demanding marketplace.