6 Innovative Trends in Warehouse Technology
Gone are the times when warehouses were simple hangars full of stuff. As technology progresses, new, ingenious solutions see the light of day. Some see daily usage across the globe. Others await further development to become viable. Yet, both have one thing in common: they’re revolutionizing the warehousing industry. Today, we’re focusing on innovative trends in warehouse technology already in use. The ones you can implement today to make your warehouse more efficient and effective.
Trend 1 – Goodbye, clunky Excell sheets!
People in the warehousing industry already know about Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). This is one of the innovative trends in warehouse technology already in widespread use. And not without reason.
WMS is a set of software and protocols designed to manage and optimize warehouse performance. It places complete control of your warehouse at your fingertips, thus helping you:
-Save money on labor and operating costs;
-Increase warehouse productivity;
-Improve accuracy and inventory visibility;
-Make inventory, shipping, and labor management more efficient.
However, WMS’s biggest strength is adaptability. You can either integrate it with existing systems or have it operate as a standalone unit. Therefore, whether you’re starting from scratch or you’ve been in business for years, you can definitely benefit from it.
Trend 2 – Automation and Robotics
The usage of automation and robotics isn’t new, per se. Various industries already use both to a larger or lesser extent. However, this trend wasn’t so popular in the warehouse industry up until recently. In the wake of the Coronavirus, many companies had to adapt their modus operandi. The focus shifted to reduce human contact while retaining efficiency. Automation and robotics were the logical choices. But, aside from keeping your warehouse operational, integrating both can help you:
-Reduce labor costs;
When combined with employees, automation and robotics can dramatically increase the efficiency of your facilities. In some cases, even up to 100%. Now, that’s a productivity spike every prospective businessman dreams of.
Trend 3 – Picking matters
Order picking is an integral and indispensable part of operating the warehouse. It’s also tedious, inefficient, and prone to mistakes. Unless, that is, you integrate Wearables and Smart Picking Technologies. Aside from acting as a picklist, a combination of these technologies provides more convenience for both you and your customer. But, it also vastly increases the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of your warehouse. Furthermore, it eases the burden on your employees, thus allowing them to focus on more pressing matters.
Trend 4 – “Tell” your warehouse what you want it to do
The combination of previous technologies gives you unparalleled control over your facilities. As such, you’d think it’s efficient enough. Well – not quite. There’s always room for improvement, and, in this case, it comes in the form of Voice Activation Technologies. This technology is already seeing widespread use. It’s functional enough, easy to use, and super convenient. After all, why would anyone sit in the office, clicking and typing thousands of times, when they can simply tell the warehouse what to do?
Trend 5 – “Smartify” your warehouse
The advancement of smart technologies opened a world of possibilities for various industries. Of course, warehousing didn’t fall short, either. In fact, all innovative trends in warehouse technology we listed can utilize smart technologies, in one way or another. Today, with only the internet and a smart device, you can manage an entire industrial complex. Without even setting foot on the premises. But, comfort and convenience aside, smart technology comes with many more benefits. The most notable ones are:
-Ability to track cargo or product in real-time;
-Data accessibility and transparency;
-Improved worker productivity;
-Lower equipment downtime.
When combined with mentioned trends, smart technology allows for incredible versatility and flexibility, the two things necessary for the growth and evolution of every business.
Trend 6 – Go renewable to remain profitable
Warehouses consume copious amounts of energy to operate, even more so if they run temperature-controlled or refrigerating units. And even more than that, once they start implementing other modern technologies from this list. Needless to say, this can lead to some serious utility bills. That’s why many warehouse companies today focus their efforts on renewable energy sources – mainly solar power.
A warehouse, as a structure, allows for the incredible use of solar panels. Huge roofs are an ideal place to install a not-so-small solar farm. This, in turn, lets you create a semi-self-sustainable operation, thus cutting your operating costs significantly. And, as a welcome side-effect, it also increases the value of the building itself. So, renewable energy sources are an excellent long-term investment.
Tomorrow starts today
Living in the age of information, we witness the birth of new, amazing technologies daily. Many of them contribute to our lives, both personal and professional. But only if we’re willing to accept, implement, and change with them. Because, as much as we depend on technology – it depends on us, too. Therefore, following innovative trends in warehouse technology is more than a whim. It’s the future of the industry and a necessity.
Erik Waidhofer is a freelance author with over 15 years of experience in moving, warehousing, and shipping industries. When he’s not writing for Fairfax Transfer and Storage and other moving companies, he enjoys woodworking and watching old movies.