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Technological innovation is forcing the supply chain to change and adapt faster than ever before. This means adopting emerging technologies and spending money on new products. In a saturated market, it can be difficult to differentiate between a good investment and a waste of money. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based third-party-logistics (3PL) provider Kenco Logistics is working to make those decisions easier for its customers through the introduction of its new Supply Chain Innovation Lab. The working lab will enable Kenco to test up-and-coming technologies in a real-world environment before rolling solutions out to its customers. 

“There is a huge shift happening in the supply chain industry, and our customers are asking us to prepare them for that shift. We are busy testing new technologies that are emerging to address issues happening in the industry,” Vice President of Innovation Kristi Montgomery said. “Our Innovation Lab was formed to not just showcase things, but to test them in a real world environment, prove which ones are valuable and figure out what scenarios they fit in.”

The company is using the lab to test technologies meant to tackle hot button issues like labor market shifts and drive change across the industry. Montgomery believes Kenco’s focus on execution and implementation will translate into significant increases in cost savings and enhanced productivity for customers. 

The supply chain industry may be innovating at breakneck speeds, but it is also known for its trepidation in the face of change. Kenco is hoping to soothe some of the tension that accompanies these inevitable changes by only providing solutions that have already been proven effective in real-world scenarios. 

“We are testing it and proving it before we ever bring it to the customer space. We’re ensuring that it works in a real-world environment, but we also take a very conservative pilot approach,” Montgomery said. “Instead of outfitting an entire warehouse with drones, let’s put two in and test those. We are piloting and prototyping the solutions inside a real working warehouse before we approach full-blown implementation. “

The lab is currently being used as a testing ground for drones, robotics and augmented and virtual reality products. Technologies included in the first round of testing include solutions from HighJump, JDA, Locus Robotics, LogistiVIEW and NextShift Robotics. These products are paving the way for more automated and efficient warehouses.

“We are dedicated to leading the digital transformation of the supply chain,” Kenco President and CEO Denis Reilly said. “The Innovation Lab is one example of our commitment to providing well-vetted, cutting-edge technologies to our customers, allowing them to achieve improved performance and enhanced supply chain value.”

Local leaders, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann, spoke at the Innovation Lab’s grand opening. Both focused on Kenco’s innovative history and contributions to the surrounding community. Chattanooga sits in the heart of Freight Alley, and Kenco has been an integral part of both the Chattanooga community and the logistics industry since 1950. 

Kenco continues to engage with the surrounding community, and the new lab even features technologies pioneered by students at STEM School Chattanooga.