The surge of modern technology has shifted our outlook on warehouse operations. The market is heading towards new business frontiers, facing managers and owners with challenges in the areas of shipping, storing, inventories and human resources. It has become increasingly important to take advantage of cutting-edge tech solutions. As for the workers, they are under pressure to develop new skills and a deeper understanding of the tech side of the business.
1. Operational Capacities
These tech “blessings” can be bestowed upon warehouse operations to drastically enhance productivity. As processes become more technology-driven, they can also be simplified. Using a Transportation Management System (TMS), for example, can simplify procurement and shipping processes, and will typically integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Combined, it is hard to imagine any manufacturer operating without at least some implementation of these systems.
Today, these approaches to managing warehouse operations are just a start – a minimum level to be “in the game.” The new technologies that are part of the Industrial Internet of Things promise to bring substantially more expanded visibility and operational control to operations spanning the globe. Distribution strategies could well be a competitive advantage that manufacturers can tout to expand market share – in just the same way that Amazon’s amazing fulfillment system has launched that online retailer into the top of their competitive industry. Watch this video to see it in action.
2. Chain Reaction
When it comes to the supply chain, technology could play in important role to unlock the visibility that manufacturers so desperately seek. New cloud-based applications appear poised to break the security and systems incompatibility issues that have been historically challenging to address. Access to data flows on supplier production, quality metrics and performance metrics could offer Suppliers new ways to compete, and will definitely impact their offering in the eyes of a manufacturer.
3. Heavy Lifting
An operable warehouse still includes staging areas, docks, pallet racks and picking trucks. Items still need to be moved as part of the fulfillment process. Here too the tech revolution is also taking hold. For example, material lifts are unparalleled in terms of boosting the versatility and productivity in the warehouse. This mobile technology can take a heavy load and allows employees to operate even in tight spaces. Many workers are already engaged in specialized trainings in order to be able to interact with latest equipment.
Automated Guided Vehicles are taking this technology to new levels by embedding sensors and “intelligence” into how materials are moved, stored and accessed. These savings are significant, as explained in this video filmed by Toyota, as presented by their Industrial Equipment division. Learn more by watching this video:
There are many advances tied to the process of lifting items in storage and retrieving them. Multi-shuttle pick modules with high rate capacities are tailored to high-rate product sequencing and extensive order assemblies. They encompass goods to person picking and pick face replenishment, and can be adapted to various warehouse layouts.
The next level of technological innovation in this area is the use of virtual or augmented reality. This type of technology could be utilized via head-mounted displays and information visualization to help workers be more productive and work smarter. Like it or not, the future is now.
Time to Gear up to A New Level
New technology advances do not mean the end of warehouses as we know them today. Rather, it offers a way to build upon current best practices to offer a way to simply do what is being done today with greater efficiency, to unlock new best practices. This brings forth a more efficient flow of goods, less waste, reduced costs and greater agility to respond faster to change.
With regards to those working within the warehouse, this new technology must be understood in order to take advantage of it. Those that invest the time to learn how to run the new systems, devices and machinery will be best poised to ride the technology wave into a future promotion. One must analyze the stream of incoming data and support the improvements made. Employee motivation and training is a top-priority, even if some entrepreneurs still do not realize it. This is the only way to achieve the new and greater expectations that consumers have come to demand.
If you liked this article, here are others you might also find interesting:
- Three Ways to Improve Warehouse Efficiency
- 5 Lean Best Practices for the Warehouse
- 5 Ways to use Technology to Run a More Productive Warehouse
- Efficient Warehousing (Infographic)
- How do You Measure Manufacturing Resource Productivity?