Companies that have automated their supply chains are doing better in the current economy than what may have been expected, and it comes down to efficiency, consistency, and 24/7 activity. This article by Bob Trebilcock explains how automation is the future of warehousing and materials handling, and what will drive the move to automation in the coming decade: What will drive automation in the future? Khodl thinks urban congestion will play a major role. “By 2020, there will be 20 mega cities on the planet with 20 million people,” he says. “If Los Angeles, Cairo, New York, London, Frankfurt, Dubai, and Shanghai are all mega cities, how are we doing to do distribution into those cities?” The answer, he adds, is that distribution will have to be space-saving, efficient, and use as little labor as possible. “We’ll have to put facilities near these cities, which means that land and labor is going to be expensive,” Khodl says. “And, in an e-commerce world, that’s going to mean more piece-picking solutions. I think we’re just seeing the tip of that iceberg.” As the cost of automation drops, as with all things, it will become more prevalent in the business. Furthermore, automation will allow for smaller, more frequent, and more accurate deliveries, focusing warehouses and material handling operations as customer-centric instead of ability-centric.