The growth of omnichannel shopping and demand for faster deliveries is redefining how warehouses operate.
A shift in how consumers buy from multiple sources — from desktop computers, mobile devices and in-store — has created the need for smart warehouses to serve today’s connected consumer.
As retailers look to merge their brick-and-mortar and online operations to cut costs and boost efficiency, warehouse management systems must keep pace.
BlueStar partner Zebra’s latest report on Building the Smarter Warehouse analysed the state of the warehousing marketplace. The online survey asked IT and operations personnel in the manufacturing, retail, transportation and wholesale market segments to share their insights and business plans over the next five years, in light of a rapidly changing industry.
The study found that 66% want to equip staff with technology in the following ways:
63% Barcode Scanning
62% Tablet Computers
54% Big data/analytics
52% Warehouse/truck loading automation.
Equipping staff with technology is a key issue for warehouse managers. There are big plans to outfit staff with technology that increases visibility across warehouse processes, from inventory validation and order picking to packing and loading.
Plans to expand the use of barcode scanning by 63% over the next five years are driven by the marketplace’s increasing demand for greater efficiency, automation and speed in the handling of inbound and outbound inventory, as well as more stringent supplier requirements.
For inventory validation, warehouses will upgrade from pen and paper, spreadsheets and computers on wheels to mobile or handheld tablets that offer real-time access to warehouse management systems.
Meanwhile, load optimisation is expected to grow by 4% over the next few years. Warehouse executives will turn to new mobile and data capture load optimisation technology solutions to maximise efficiency and agility in packing, staging, loading and shipping.
These pack and load solutions offer real-time analytics designed to boost worker productivity and reduce transportation costs.
A new wave of connected devices will grant warehouses a heightened level of visibility into every facet of the supply chain. IoT technologies offer the promise of facilitating real-time workforce interaction to elevate productivity, while adding a new level of precision to tracking the route of inventory throughout the supply chain, among other things.
Achieving success will call for shortening delivery times and slashing transportation costs, which were cited by those surveyed as the core reasons for the move to the smart warehouse.
Warehouses must adapt to the growth of e-commerce in the retail sector, and the flood of online orders and goods in the supply chain. The latest warehouse management systems and location systems which track the whereabouts of objects in real time can solve these issues and will soon replace legacy operations.