What Can we Expect from The Future Warehouse
Warehousing and distribution are facing unprecedented pressures, for several months already, because of the massive disruption caused by Covid-19.
Commoditisation and labour shortages are two effects that only manage to scratch the surface. Let us also add the impact of external factors such as the Amazon effect, prompting customer expectations of next day and same day shipping.
It is becoming clear that warehousing must find new ways to solve challenges more effectively. This is the time technology must come to the rescue, taking the shape of warehouse automation that improves productivity and efficiency.
Many technologies used to aid employees in handling repetitive tasks can be labeled as warehouse automation tools. In a nutshell, they enable warehouse operations to achieve greater outcomes with significantly less effort through the use of one or more of such technologies. The best warehouse automation solutions are scalable, ergonomic and are able to provide a return on investment in months instead of years.
The advantages of an automated warehouse system are multifold, but let us just name a few.
Improved Worker Satisfaction
Lower Operating Costs
Fewer Shipping Mistakes
Warehouse Automation encompasses two main parts: Digital Automation and Physical Automation.
Digital Automation refers to the digitisation and automation of manual processes, such as inventory data collection. The data is automatically captured into the software environment, such as your database or ERP system.
Warehouse automation software solutions like mobile barcoding are low-cost and beneficial to any inventory handling operation.
Physical Automation includes various forms of mechanised automation and refers to the use of robots and robotic systems in the warehouse. It is more costly to implement and only provides a reasonable ROI for larger high-volume warehouse and distribution centre operations. A few examples of physical automation include goods-to-person (GTP) technology, driverless automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs).
Both types of automation enable improvements in warehouse procedures to an impossible extent for the human workforce. They "automate" by taking over repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing the warehouse personnel to focus on more meaningful activities.
The potential of automation is outstanding. On 2nd December take the opportunity to learn more about it from supply chain and warehouse management leaders at the Smart Warehouse Sofa Summit.