The Next Big Thing in Warehousing & Logistics
A critical component for organizational success is warehousing and logistics. This translates into greater efficiencies, reduced costs, and optimized production costs. Moreover, this also means tighter inventory control and utilization of warehousing space which ultimately leads to increased customer satisfaction and experience.
To achieve greater efficiencies in warehousing and logistics, companies need to watch for trends and adopt new ideas and technologies that will make them stay ahead in the game.
Technology will continue to transform conventional logistics processes while pushing supply chain teams to improvise and adapt. What are some technologies that can impact the organization?
Most logistics providers have migrated to cloud-based services and this trend is growing. This indicates a future that lies in remote-hosted data and processes.
Cloud offers real-time access as well as the flexibility to business intelligence and operations software. Pay-per-use business models are now becoming a norm in logistics. Security and data migration may create initial hiccups but the benefits in terms of costs and time make cloud logistics a strong proposition for businesses.
‘The future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere,’ is an oft-quoted statement. The enhancement of human skillsets to manage mundane tasks or back-office duties can streamline logistics processes to greater efficiency. The usage of AI-driven automation can be fed into predictive-modeling tools that can spot upcoming variations in demand. This helps to avoid a shortage or even excess stocks. Robotic systems and processes can drive mechanical tasks assisted by bots based on business requirements.
Internet of Things
The global smart sensor market is expected to touch nearly USD 60 billion in the coming year as per a Deloitte report. The continuous flow of data between logistics providers and devices ensures self-monitoring and self-maintenance by supply chain teams. The usage of smart sensors will trigger robots or teams to replenish stocks and pack new orders. The advent of onboard telematics can prioritize delivery routes and transform how logistics operations will run in the future.
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Big data analytics
The massive surge in data generated by the supply chain network is vital fodder for making structural changes and aligning them across networks. This data also provides insights that can optimize operational processes as well as aid in the forecast of stocks and trends. Such insights can help teams to trim incurring or unnecessary warehousing costs while getting finished goods closer to the consumer as and when needed.
Supply chains can get more complex and affected as 3D printing technology can curtail the demands of long-distance physical transportation of finished goods.
However, logistics operators can take advantage of such technologies and can establish 3D printing plants for orders.
Using crowdsourced delivery and multiple logistics partners
Creating efficient multi-fleet management is crucial for bringing costs down as well as meeting demanding customer expectations. Last-mile delivery or same-day orders at scale can entail working with multiple fleets in combinations of in-house drivers and outsourced parties. A few fleets can be dedicated to fixed locations. However, the optimal way to lower cost while increasing speed is to automate which order needs to be fulfilled by which fleet.
Warehousing technologies have also advanced and companies can take advantage of them for increasing productivity and managing costs.
The adoption of wearable technology
Wearable barcode scanners and devices can track the movement of goods and it is imperative to invest in technology that delivers as much information as possible.
The rise of autonomous machines
Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) are a new trend that can metamorphose the warehouses in their current avatar. Warehouses are now capable of turning into efficient inventory management hubs. Forklifts, stackers, inventory-carrying robots, and pallet trucks are changing the way warehouses will be operated.
Rethinking the warehouse itself
A warehouse is supposedly a large rectangular building with lots of shelves and racks within it. Now as demand for goods keeps increasing with major strides in e-commerce, warehouses too would be expected to change. Shopping modes through e-commerce and mobile devices have forced companies to look for efficient space management solutions. As new warehouses are being built, their design will affect elementary parameters such as column spacing, ceiling height, and even the choice of materials used.