Incorporating automated warehousing will help businesses avoid a meltdown because advancements in technology will create a disruption sooner or later for those who are unable to embrace automation now. The result?
Automated warehouses certainly seem to be the dream come true in modern distribution centres, needing a skeleton crew to operate, offering high levels of productivity (because as well as being fast, they can operate 24/7/365), and offsetting some of the power they use by operating in an unheated or un-cooled environment, with little if any need for artificial lighting.
Ecommerce demands the syncing of sophisticated technology into it to stay afloat and get a competitive edge. Warehousing is one arm of it that requires tech solutions to help it grow swiftly because without innovation ecommerce cannot thrive. Warehouses of today have indeed come a long way and we now have the use of:
- Labour optimising technologies, such as robots, reduce human error and makes the entire process much faster. As the MIT Review said; “A warehouse equipped with Kiva robots can process as many as four times the orders handled by a non-automated warehouse.” It is no more labour intensive and Warehouse Management Technologies have made the entire process more efficient. The data entry work is now fully automated as well as system guided picking and even the work of forklift operators have been automated thus enabling efficiency across the platform.
- Scanning technology, as we all know with our experience at supermarkets, has made work faster and error-free despite still using humans at the check-out unless self-check kiosks are in place. Similarly, there is a huge scanning process in warehousing. Technologies such as barcode scanning and RFID have taken away much of that administration effort, by allowing operatives to simply scan a pick face and enter picked quantities on a keypad. Receiving, stocking and despatch are all done by technology today.
- Further improvement in efficiency came with Voice Recognition Technology. This can cut down upon the effort required and improve the efficiency of those working because they can listen to verbal instructions and execute the same accurately. For a company which is friendly towards the visually challenged, this process can help it to show their concern for such people and earn brownie points when consumers learn of the same. Voice tech can avoid major errors and waste of time with rework.
- Warehouses of today are paperless. The cost of a lost paper can be enormous and Warehouse technology has changed the entire process with digital storage thus reducing the scope of error. This also has reduced operating costs and contributed effectively towards a sustainable process appreciated the world over.
- With a complete digital ecosystem and cognitive warehousing, companies can now carry out order fulfillment from the warehouse nearest to the delivery address which reduces delivery time, effort & cost simultaneously.
Without a doubt, automated warehousing is good although expensive at present. We feel that the positives far exceed the negatives. There are several beneficial parameters for using technology in the warehouse. They don’t just reduce the cost of operation and labour but also improve efficiency supply chain speed, improves inventory management and productivity amongst other things.
- With wireless technology, there is real-time inventory tracking.
- The entire facility is interconnected with the use of barcoding, IoT, GPS, or FRID tracking thus optimizing processes of decisions by managers and execution of them more efficiently.
- Forklifts today are no more manual and some are even using fuel-efficient machines to reduce costs. Solar panels, clerestory windows, LED lights, efficient sensors, opting for green materials have all led to sustainability and reduction in health risks of employees. Technology in warehouses has made it friendlier for humans to work in and is beneficial for the environment.
- Technology has infiltrated the entire warehousing infrastructure with better designs, automated picking technology capable of reaching higher shelves with ease, reduces accidents improves fire-safety, voice-based picking that is multilingual, and specialized robots for carrying and shelving. This revolution in technology has overcome all barriers to enhance the capability of modern-day warehouses.
The role of warehouses has undergone a revolution and they are much more than storehouses today. There are numerous value-added processes as product customization, just-in-time packing and assembling as also customer collection services. So warehouses have grown manifold with technology. The good thing about this is human jobs will not become redundant and the requirement for skilled persons in new technologies will keep growing.
In times to come, according to the Logistics Bureau, robotics, sensors, machine-to-machine communication, and the Internet of things is expected to make warehouses even more efficient to operate.
Probably the design of the warehouses will change in another fifty years to accommodate Robotics full-fledged. This might be the answer to many constraints that warehouses are facing in automation since robots, for example, can be used by existing warehouses without structural changes. The beauty of it is that they are capable of multitasking as no human can and reduces the time required and errors. Amazon is a case in point which widely uses robots. Robots are affordable at present and might overtake humans completely in the future and outsourcing will then become a viable alternative to storing inventory especially for businesses that cannot afford their own warehouse.
In fifty years warehouses will become more automated with sensors to monitor conditions, communication between machines, with ‘integrated analytics and machine learning capabilities’ robots will respond more efficiently, while managers and owners will monitor the entire process without being physically present at the site. If this sounds far-fetched then the artificial intelligence in use today would also have sounded weird and impossible to humans in the early 20th century.
Efficiency is the key to a successful business and that is what technology in the warehouse is designed to do. Omnichannel commerce could change the way it operates and warehouses would be placed closer to targeted markets to save costs and improve efficiency.
As of today, automation is especially useful in countries where there is a labour shortage. Sometimes automation is expensive but cloud-based & cost-effective software solutions can help optimise implementation expenses. Besides, “Sophisticated analytics help operators find and eliminate process weaknesses; Inventory management software helps companies to optimise stock levels while modelling tools do the same in construction design and warehouse layout planning.” Automation is dominated by wireless and robotics and this gives a level of convenience which has never been witnessed before. The resistance to change is slowly waning and Eunimart offers solutions to help overcome the obstacles needed to automate warehouses and your supply chain. As experts say, “What we are going to see is that all of the distribution is going to look and feel this way because those that don’t get there are not going to be around,”