SAN FRANCISCO — For this Reaching Out Further column the focus will be on applying the same success trends (that we saw in an earlier Reaching Out column about sales and marketing), but this time the emphasis is on the areas of production and logistics.

As a reminder, the success trends list was generated by Ian Altman for Forbes Leadership because it exemplifies a consensus of last year’s trends lists. (For the entire article, go to: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2017/12/05/the-top-business-trends-that-will-drive-success-in-2018/#23e807fb701a)

1. Artificial intelligence

Per Wikipedia, “artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It is also the name of the academic field of study, which examines how to create computers and computer software that are capable of intelligent behavior.”

A familiar version of AI in the drycleaning area, is the computer-aided drycleaning machine that chooses the correct cycle based on the fabric and garment content in the specific load. Another is the moisture sensitive control for wet-cleaned garments.

Sorting conveyors help reduce human error and lost or misplaced garments.

The automated robotics of the newest finishing equipment makes the job of the operators much easier because of the “intelligent” features. The newer features have reduced training time, increased quality and consistency, improved pieces-per-operator-hour (PPOH), and improved overall throughput, reducing total labor and related production costs.

With the ever-increasing competition for competent labor, it is time to review and weigh the benefits of equipment investment against the cost and calculate the resulting return-on-investment (ROI).

The many available apps in the industry are designed to give you and your drivers an easier way to optimize the routes while giving the customers more options for their convenience.

Robots could be adapted to deliver orders to the drive-thru, lockers and beyond. Drone delivery is becoming a reality for some industries, so why not ours? Self-driving vehicles may also become reliable and cost-effective in the foreseeable future.

Apps and automation can be very beneficial to you, your company and your clients.

2. Communities embrace live interactions

Your local and remote teams benefit from electronic training and communication, but they also crave live interaction and events with their peers. Not only do they benefit from applying the training in a supportive environment, face-to-face encounters strengthen the bonds between team members and minimize the “them vs. us” silos that exist in most organizations.

3. Millennials welcome Generation Z

Millennials (now reaching their mid-30s) have been in their careers long enough that many of them are now managing their teams. They are now encountering the latest generation to enter the workforce. Born after 1998, Gen Z is the first generation born surrounded by personal electronic devices. They crave automation in all their tasks, and efficiency and constant access in their communications.

Are you ready to adapt to their preferred form of payment, such as auto deposit to their online bank, 24/7 interactive communication, flex work hours, remote task completion, autonomy, and other preferences?

4. Wages and more on the rise

Like the sales and service departments, the associates in production and logistics are considering the same compensation issues. Companies should factor in a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) prediction of an average 3% wage increase this year. Monetary compensation is only one component influencing job-holders and job-seekers. They are also weighing flexibility, benefits (including ever more expensive health care), and autonomy. The generation of the associate, influences the weight given to each component.

Offering job-sharing, remote work alternatives, flex hours, more self-management, and choice from a menu of benefits may be essential to attracting and retaining competent employees. You may need to be more creative to compete in the current job market.

5. Social learning

Individual learning, regardless of the media, such as traditional learning or electronic, is beneficial and possibly essential to provide a baseline of knowledge about performing a given position. However, group learning outperforms individual learning when ranked on actual performance of the job. Seeing how someone else approaches the task or sharing perspectives during role playing can be very impactful once the initial reticence to participate is overcome.

Don’t forget to involve “lone wolf” drivers and remote workers, such as an outsourced billing department, so they feel connected to the company, their teammates and their counterparts.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.