For more than 30 years, MHI’s annual conference has proven to be the premier thought leadership event for manufacturing, material handling, and supply chain professionals. The 2023 MHI annual conference held at the beginning of October exceeded previous years’ attendance with more than 700 professionals. This one-of-a-kind conference allows professionals to share their experiences, concerns, and accomplishments related to supporting innovative solutions. Attendees get a chance to hear from suppliers, integrators, and practitioners who experience the same day-to-day challenges and have an opportunity to openly discuss solutions. Whether you are new to the industry or a veteran, the MHI annual conference offers an opportunity to network and build key connections. Aside from networking, the annual conference also provides access to multiple industry committee meetings and speakers. In my experience, a few key takeaways from this year’s annual conference include the keynote speaker Laila Ali, the Young Professional Network (YPN) luncheon, the Solutions Community (SC) industry group Software Committee update, and the SC panel discussion.
Keynote speaker Laila Ali is the daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and followed in his footsteps by becoming a successful boxer in her own right. She discussed obstacles conquered through the years while advocating for empowerment. Today, Laila Ali owns a holistic lifestyle organization called Laila Ali Lifestyle which focuses on empowering individuals by replenishing health, mindset, and purpose to fulfill their potential. Key takeaways from Laila Ali’s talk included:
YPN enables young professionals an opportunity to expand their network and develop new contact points within the industry. The YPN luncheon helped spark ideas defining multiple ways to achieve success when uncertainty presents itself. The YPN Coffee Chat lunch featured guest speaker, Chaneta Sullivan, Esq., Director of Facility Development and Safety at Chick-fil-A Supply. Chaneta shared her career experience and how to successfully implement, measure, and realize operational benefits while challenging the status quo.
MHI members also have the opportunity to join any of MHI’s product or solutions groups. Currently, MHI has 18 industry groups. These groups provide a safe harbor venue where suppliers of material handling equipment and services collaborate to work with the user community to improve the marketplace. As you can see in the listing below, there is a group of nearly every product and discipline in the material handling industry.
As the Software Committee Chair, I informed SC members of the achievements, current activities, and 2024 goals. The committee has released blogs, articles, podcasts, and published the Digital Twin for Intralogistics white paper. Currently, the committee is finalizing the “Unlocking Efficiency: A Warehouse Automation Software Overview” video which will be available on social media and the MHI Solutions Community website by the end of Q4 2023. The committee is actively seeking additional volunteers to contribute to the following for 2024:
The Marketing, Meeting Content, Conditioning Monitoring, and Revers Pitch committees also provided updates. Hands-down one of the best parts about the Solutions Community meeting was the panel discussion. In that discussion, four industry practitioners shared their insight and experience in navigating trends and challenges to shape tomorrow’s vision. The guest panelists were:
The SC members identified and discussed the following top challenges:
The top issue facing the supply chain industry is attracting and retaining talent. Supply chain leaders can reduce attrition by cross-training, creating internship programs, and getting employees involved in supply chain associations like MHI. More recently, cyberthreats have increased, laying bare vulnerabilities in IT and software systems. Instead of attacking the target directly, cybercriminals usually attack a weaker organization within the target’s supply chain to meet their goals. To maintain supply chain integrity, it is recommended that organizations require specific best practices of vendors, suppliers, and resellers as a defense strategy to improve overall supply chain security and ensure sustainability.
All this was just a small portion of that content and insight available to suppliers, integrators, and practitioners at every MHI Annual Conference. If you haven’t attended one, it would be well worth the investment to change that in 2024!
—Ashley Rhodes, St. Onge Company
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