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.