The past year has brought numerous technological advancements in the warehousing industry, paving the way for “Smart Warehouses” – the new frontier in warehouse management. With significant growth in market expansion and automation, 2024 promises to be a highly successful year for forward-thinking managers and teams embracing innovation.
Indeed, the advancement of AI and its potential threats have been a common topic in the warehousing industry and beyond. However, a study conducted in 2022 has found that workers generally view automation in warehouses in a positive light. Although there is room for adjustment and accommodation, technology has already demonstrated its ability to increase productivity and allow teams to focus on new or more critical tasks.
Warehouse operators have unique ways of defining success, but several common elements are present in most of their strategies. These include reducing costs, optimising manual processes, having instant access to data, creating a safer and more sustainable work environment, and improving governance.
As we move towards the era of “smart warehouses” and Logistics 4.0, success is not merely dependent on deploying new technologies. Understanding which options work best and are most suitable for the particular case is essential. By rapidly testing and filtering new options and ensuring that the entire company is on board, the final users of the product can differ significantly from the person who initiated its adoption.
To streamline the path to success, we believe that warehouse teams should focus on the following elements this year:
Warehouse operators can now access various options for collecting, managing, analysing, and interpreting data. They can make their operations more transparent and resilient by deploying advanced technologies such as AI, IoT, or autonomous robots.
Data can be used to predict, monitor, fix, automate processes, reduce costs, and even create a better work environment. Collecting data from all warehouse processes is possible, and a deep understanding of its role and impact can lead to resilience, which has become increasingly important in the wake of a pandemic and economic and social challenges.
In warehousing, supply chain disruptions can take many forms, including inventory errors, high volumes, delays, demand fluctuations, and understaffing, among other anomalies that can impact business operations. Artificial Intelligence has the great advantage of quickly analysing all the gathered data and predicting these disruptions, if not avoiding them altogether.
Several technologies are available for scanning warehouses, each with advantages and disadvantages. Autonomous robots are a popular choice due to several key features. First and foremost, they are swift. This is particularly important in the dynamic world of eCommerce, where warehouses can experience high demand throughout the year. For instance, over a third of shoppers purchase items before the end of October.
Another essential advantage of autonomous robots is safety. Injuries are a significant concern when using technology in a warehouse environment. Still, robots are the safest option since they operate on the ground level. They can move around the space alongside humans without requiring the closure of any areas. Moreover, since they can reach heights of up to 15m, workers no longer need to use forklifts to scan high pallets, eliminating another potential risk.
Lastly, the setup process for autonomous robots is straightforward and user-friendly. Compared to other scanning devices, they only require a dock and an internet connection to be up and running within a week. This simplicity makes autonomous robots a more viable and sustainable solution in the long term.
Did you know that a warehouse worker can cover a distance of 9 miles or more in a single day to accomplish their tasks?? They are required to operate heavy machinery that moves slowly or spend time trying to fix errors. They must also stand on their feet for prolonged periods and may be assigned night shifts. All these factors contribute to stress, a lack of job satisfaction, and not just financial losses but also a significant shortage of labour in the industry. By implementing technology that automates workers’ most manual, unsafe, and time-consuming tasks, management can significantly reduce these challenges and improve the overall efficiency of their teams, such as:
Sustainability should be a key consideration for warehouses in their strategies for 2024 and beyond. The warehouse market is predicted to grow, but this growth significantly impacts the environment, with 60% of global greenhouse emissions resulting from supply chain activity. To adopt a greener approach, warehouse operators can take several actions, from the construction and management of the warehouse to their recycling policies, use of renewable energies, deployment of green technology, and data analysis.
An excellent green approach begins by understanding the issues, addressing them, and constantly monitoring the impact of decisions. Digitalisation can play a significant role in adopting a more sustainable environmental approach. By leveraging technology, warehouses can gain more visibility, predict challenges, facilitate inventory, automate manual processes, and optimise resource spending.
There are many benefits to adopting a more responsible attitude towards the environment. Warehouses can protect the area and community they operate in, save money through renewable energies, and be perceived as trustworthy companies.
“The recipe for success in 2024 is a complex one. It depends on each company’s values, mission, and goals. However, some things can speed up the process when they are combined. We can now gather a lot of data from and about a warehouse, and enhanced visibility over this data is essential for transparency and resilience, which are the keywords for 2024. The technology is developing, and various options are available, some of which may be more suitable than others for each warehouse.
As autonomous robots gradually take over more manual work, introducing tools like this or other AI-powered technologies can become a strategic advantage, allowing teams to focus on more human-specific tasks. A successful warehouse endures over time, and this requires intelligent decision-making. Nowadays, the most thoughtful decisions are closely related to our relationship with the environment. Everything we have previously discussed – data, AI, technology, and talent – can contribute to making greener, better choices for the future.”
If you’d like to discuss changing your warehouse, get in touch.
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