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The Future of Warehousing: Exploring Technology Use

Are warehouses going all tech? The evolving modern warehouse is continuing to change as technology advances. Warehouses will employ a greater amount of automation and process-centric technologies. As retail stores shrink and consumers shift to online buying, warehouses are becoming a more complex operation. As a result, warehouse operators have had to rely on streamlining current processes through the use of new technologies. In fact, a survey of 143 professionals by VDC Research found that respondents were committed to modernizing their warehouse operations with smart technology, including mobile devices and applications.

Shift in Consumer Behavior Creating a Shift in Warehouse Operations

Consumer behavior continues to move to more online shopping. Meeting the demands of consumers falls on the warehouse so shipping in a week is no longer an acceptable time frame. Warehouses need to move products out the door much faster all at the same price. While this seems an impossible task, it is possible to do so with the help of technology. Seasonal shifts can cause a volume spike of 3-5x increase in warehouses. For those that operate manually with traditional hardware and software solutions, processes can be slow and inefficient. Most warehouses need a solution that works with their existing infrastructure.

In response to the shift in consumer behavior, retailers will look to partner with warehouses that are able to meet these demands at reasonable costs as well as be able to provide full transparency and visibility throughout the process. The warehouse of the future will take advantage of automation and technology. This results in fewer planning errors that lead to higher profits as warehouse technologies optimize receiving and storage, inventory management, picking and packing and more.

Technologies that are Shaping the Warehouse of the Future

The number of available technologies in shipping and transportation is changing daily. The following five technologies are creating efficiencies within the warehouse setting:

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) are devices that track inventory and manage equipment that are completely changing the landscape of the warehouse. Examples of these types of devices include RFID tags, sensors, and wearables like smart gloves that capture and transmit data. IoT devices enable real-time monitoring of warehouse equipment to be able to schedule predictive maintenance. IoT allows for improved communication throughout the supply chain and prevents costly delays.

Warehouse Management Systems

Most warehouses operate off of some management system and the technology behind them is only getting better. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are software solutions that help to control the daily operations in a warehouse. The use of a WMS is key for the warehouse as it serves as a central hub to track inventory levels and monitor stock locations. WMS’s are able to give real-time updates for better decision making.

Mobile Robots

Automated guided vehicles (AGV’s) are controlled by sensors and are able to transport goods throughout the warehouse. They follow pre-set paths using wires and reflective markers which reduces the need for manual material handling. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are more sophisticated that are able to operate in environments without the need for fixed tracks because they use AI and sensors to work independently. Both of these types of robots transport inventory, however, AMR’s are able to navigate the warehouse without pre-determined paths.

Drones

The use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles has cut down for the need of manual work on tasks such as inventory management, transportation of goods, maintenance, and monitoring. Because they include both cameras and sensors, drones can collect data such as inventory stock levels and location. They can either be controlled manually or navigate independently, depending on the task.

Advanced Analytics

Advanced analytics from data that has been collected can be used in a variety of ways. Predictive analysis can improve forecasting and other decisions in the warehouse such as:

  • Improved stock demand value
  • Better inventory location planning
  • Lower risk with supplier networks
  • Faster response to warehouse and supply chain issues
  • Optimization of warehouse activities like order fulfillment and storage
  • Easy to understand data

Advanced analytics in conjunction with data visualization will play a crucial role in achieving supply chain visibility.

Verizeal for Warehouse Operations

Being able to just adopt the latest technologies can be difficult without a plan for the entire supply chain and warehouse operations. The adoption of technology must be flexible and easy to integrate. From order tracking to picking and packing, Verizeal can help enhance your warehouse operations to make them more efficient.

 

 

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