The Most Significant Ways in Which Warehousing is Changing — Part 2Given the changes warehousing has experienced recently and the multitude of new technology associated with it, it’s critical to know what’s next for warehouses.

Warehouses have become a hub for innovation in supply chains. Due to the pressures placed upon them by modernity, they’ve had to grow. As such, warehouses are now a source of technological advancement where they were once stagnant. Consequently, they’re now highly connected, responsive, transparent, and forward thinking. Part 1 of this warehousing overview highlighted many of the changes taking place that lead to these developments. However, there are many more worth covering.

This article by Morai Logistics points to 4 prominent ways in which warehousing is changing as companies prepare them for the future.

Warehousing on Demand

The modern economy is moving towards sharing platforms, where services are provided on a need-be basis. Apps like Uber and Airbnb have had monumental success tapping into this public desire. Now, a similar approach is starting to gain traction in the warehouse space. Apps have been developed that allow warehouse owners to rent out spare space. As they take off, they’ll flip what unused space means for warehouse owners. Where once it’d be cost that provided no value, going forward it’ll be an additional source of money.

Internet of Business elaborates on the transformative nature of on demand warehousing,

The idea might seem simple enough, but the implications could be transformative. For example, organisations no longer need to think of warehousing in terms of massive regional hubs that require long-distance road haulage (with the expense and environmental impact that entails). Instead, they can now manage it as a national or international grid of smaller facilities that can be expanded or contracted on demand.

Connectivity

With all the technology present in warehouses, the need for connectivity is greater than ever. The variety of technology means data is coming in from a multitude of sources, raising the risk of data silos. With that in mind, to mitigate for that potentiality, warehousing has to involve integration.

An article by Supply Chain 24/7 expands on this,

In a hyper-connected warehouse, operating systems are laid out in a highly advanced matrix to accommodate the growing mix of technologies. Today’s warehouses hold bandwidth for technologies like barcoding, IoT, RFID scanning, GPS, load optimization and future technology innovations that may emerge. With this tech in place, logistics managers can quickly make and execute decisions.

Sensors

Sensors are set to be an ever-growing presence in warehouses. Why sensors? Because with them comes an influx of data. That being data that is continually being collected. Which, in turn means transparency and visibility throughout the warehouse. Furthermore, sensors play a big role in the earlier mentioned connectivity as well as the predictive maintenance and real-time tracking mentioned in part 1.

Drones

Finally, another technology set to a have a significant impact on warehouses in the future are drones. This is because drones have the potential to be used to keep track of inventory.

A post 6 River Systems details the role drones will play in warehouses in the future,

Drones are likely to have a role in the warehouse of the future, as well. In August of 2017, researchers at MIT announced that they had been programming drones to relay RFID as a way to aid in inventory control — an innovation that could make tagging obsolete in the future. This technology allows small drones to fly above a warehouse floor to read RFID tags from tens of meters away

While drones’ ability for tagging will be incredibly valuable to warehousing, it’s important to point out that currently concerns remain in regards to them. The chief concern being that of they jeopardize the level safety in warehouses. Thus, less disruptive, lightweight drones have to be developed that can still perform the necessary tagging.

The most significant Ways in Which Warehousing is Changing — Part 1Warehousing has undergone a massive shift over the past few years, aligning itself with smart, technologically driven supply chains, but where’s it going next?

Warehousing, for a long time, was seen as the least dynamic and intelligent part of supply chains. However, that’s no longer the case. Modern warehousing is smart warehousing. Moreover, given the escalating demands, which are growing more strict year over year, placed upon supply chains, warehouses have to operate with greater efficiency, speed, and agility than ever before. As such, warehouses have become increasingly technology dependent. And that transformation is only set to continue.

As a recent Supply Chain Digital article points out,

Warehousing and logistics, an industry with complex operations in need of flexible and innovative solutions. Currently within the world of warehousing and logistics, companies are lining up to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon.

This article by Morai Logistics underscores 4 critical ways in which warehousing has changed and will continue to.

Wireless Technology for Real-Time Tracking

One the most important things for the modern day warehouse is having a real-time view of inventory. This is because the demands placed upon supply chains means companies have to continually be monitoring their inventory. Essentially, inventory always has to be ready to go and in the right state to go. With that in mind, it’s crucial to be able to track it. To make sure there’s enough of it and that it’s good condition.

A post by Supply Chain 24/7 highlights one of the more prominent real-time tracking technologies,

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to each inventory item can transmit real-time data to and from the warehouse floor and inventory management applications, allowing warehouse teams to use mobile devices to track inventory from the moment it arrives.

Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance doesn’t refer to a single kind of technology. Rather, it’s a variety of technologies that contribute to the same thing. That being, proactive maintenance of warehouse machinery. Consequently, instead of waiting for equipment breaking down and causing disruptions in operation, the new way forward is to avoid the breakdowns taking place.

A piece by Internet of Business explains the numerous technologies that can be employed to achieve this,

Today a mix of technologies, including enterprise asset management (EAM), digital twins – exploded 3D representations of objects and their components – sensors, RFID tags, smart supply chains, and AI, is allowing organisations to gain unprecedented insight into the lifecycle of products, components, and even materials.

Robots & Cobots

There are a multitude of tasks that robots are simply better suited for than humans in warehouses. In particular, thoughtless, tedious, repetitive feats of labour. Vitally, not only do robots conduct these tasks with greater efficiency and productivity, they also allow human workers to focus on more important tasks as well as avoid injury. Additionally, the future of warehousing seems to be one where robots don’t even have to replace human workers. Hence, the advent of cobots—collaborative robots. Cobots enable a future where robots work besides and in conjunction with humans, not instead of them.

Sustainability

Lastly, supply chains are increasingly going green. There’s a number of reasons for this, from legislative to ethical. Ultimately, regardless of the reasons, the movement towards sustainability is undeniable. As such, warehousing has to take it into account as well.

The earlier mentioned Supply Chain 24/7 article outlines what sustainable warehouses could look like going forward,

Alternative energy and energy efficiency are no longer optional as warehouse operators bring more automation into the warehouse. Solar panels, LED lighting, cool-roof systems, thermal glass, clerestory windows, and other new green materials and innovations are leading warehouses into a new age.