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The advent of new technologies is occurring in an ever-quicker cycle. The ability of businesses to innovate has allowed for a quicker turn around time in the development of new technologies. The benefits to businesses like warehousing will be invaluable.
If you don’t already know, then you should. Warehousing is a crucial activity in the evolution of the supply chain. Every innovation that trickles down to the warehouse will help improve efficiency and reduce costs. This is important, because warehousing is a segment where margins are continually declining.
There are five innovations that are expected to revolutionize warehouse operations. They include:
• Robotics and Automation
• The Internet of Things (IoT) And Sensors
• 3-D Printing
Robotics and Automation
Robotics and automation is not new to warehousing. However, how these technologies evolve will cause great enhancements in how these technologies are benefitting warehouse efficiency.
The real change will be coming from the affordable robotics and automation solutions that warehouses use a little bit at a time. With this in mind, two main styles of robots will have a leading role in future innovations in warehouse operations.
They include industrial robots. These robots will be used to perform activities inside the warehouse. Some of them are already here, but their involvement will be increasing and will expand during the next few years. It is these robots that will automate repetitive jobs.
In the coming years, you will see an increase in pallet shuttles, conveyor belts, stacker cranes, innovative aerial transportation systems, and automated guided vehicles.
IoT and Sensors
Thanks to the Internet of Things, technology is already monitoring warehouse operations at a pace never imagined. And it will only expand. Some of the most IoT applications that will join warehouse operations in the coming years will become part of the short-term innovations in many warehouses. These include:
• Product information. Thanks to Internet of Things devices, warehouse operation will be able to collect data in real-time. The data will be related to the product itself and include weight, dimensions, location, and more.
• Energy consumption control. Thanks to IoT, the use of heat sensors and more complex smart-meters will be used in warehouses to assure more efficient energy consumption.
• Error detection. IoT will be united with risk prevention applications.
• Movement sensors. Warehouse flow comprises of thousands of movements of people and assets. Technologies will help warehouse managers understand this flow.
Although data is king already in many of our businesses including warehousing, it will have an even greater impact in the future. Data will be the essential of all future improvements. Warehouses are already generating a large volume and variety of data. The application of this data will continue to grow to assist warehouses to better understand and improve operations.
Today, the analysis of the incredible amount of data being generated is a challenge. In the future, the expansion of IoT devices inside warehouses will create a whole new set of data sources. As a result, the amount of data gathered during warehouse operations will increase, making the analysis of that data even more consequential.
Look for the implementation of big data application, the exploration of dark data sources, and data integration into future warehouse operations. All of this will enhance process and efficiency. Warehouse managers will understand how people and assets are moving inside the warehouse, how the stock is moving, and how to better plan stock.
This improvement will enable the decentralization of warehouses; allowing managers to collect products that can be rotated in warehouses putting them closer to the end-client.
Sustainability on the logistics side for freight and warehousing will develop a number of innovations addressing the reduction of CO2 emissions, lower resource consumption, and enhance waste management.
Expect 3-D printing to revolutionize the logistics sector, streamlining the supply chain. The solution of applying 3-D printing in the warehouse will streamline production, reduce cost, and allow hyper-customization. With 3-D printers, logistic operators will become manufacturers with the ability to produce pieces in the warehouse. Thus bringing the production step closer to the end-user. The result will be the strengthening of the supply chain.