How has COVID-19 Influenced the Use of Technology in the Warehouse June 23th, 2021
Since the beginning of 2020, much has taken place that has set back the supply chain, thanks to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown shutdowns have greatly increased to keep employees at home, working there if they have the means, and quarantining when they can to ensure that everyone stays safe, as much as they can influence.
There’s been an uptick in online shopping, due to consumers finding themselves unable to stray far from their homes and with this being a known fact, warehouse employees are working more than overtime to ensure that the consumer expectations are being fulfilled and orders are getting delivered on time. Physical distancing guidelines make it extremely difficult for warehouses to continue swiftly operating with human employees, which can cause a trickle-down effect for the rest of the supply chain. With orders needing to be fulfilled due to the increased demand and fewer employees staffed at one time, warehouses are beginning to adopt automation technology to continue thriving and surviving in the current workplace.
Amid the pandemic, the need for a switch to new and improved technologies has accelerated swiftly. From automated forklift vehicles to high-quality drones, there have been several new tactics adopted in warehouse environments. Automated forklifts present an opportunity to allow such navigational technology to prosper, where an employee can ‘drive’ a forklift, without physically touching the control levers. At the same time, smart drones can be utilized to upgrade inventory management, transportation from one dock to another, and even additional surveillance complying specifically with COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. If a group of employees was to be found congregating too closely to each other, an alert would be sounded to make that claim known and heard throughout the workstation. Robots have been known to perform tasks that can help simplify a human employee’s workload, especially with the social distancing needs put in place back in 2020 and still existing now in the new year.
Keeping Workers & Parcels Safe
One of the largest changes has been how the typical workplace is set up to best promote healthy habits, and keep those who are most likely to be infected by COVID-19, at a safe and comfortable distance. Navigating through a slew of Warehouse Management Systems can be a chore, but ensuring that there is a system in place that can reduce the reliance on surrounding departments, while also allowing the current workflow to operate with fewer staff in their designated zones will help the warehouse continue to function like a well-oiled machine. That means social distancing and improved accuracy will all be taken into consideration.
Poor efficiency rates won’t look good to anyone, customer or manager and with that, there is a higher need for better picking and sorting methods to ensure that orders are filtered through with 100% accuracy. Many operators have begun to introduce batch pick flexible picking methods to cope with the heightened influx that has occurred since the start of 2020 in supply chains. When picked goods are transported into a central location, users will receive an immediate confirmation that orders have been picked accurately and that the parcel hasn’t gone missing somewhere throughout the process. This additional dosage of quality helps customers to ensure that the company processing their package knows what they are doing and can rest easy. At the other end of the equation, distribution centers can rest easy knowing all of their hard work is worth something.
COVID-19 has pushed warehouses to adopt a better understanding of automation techniques so that businesses can remain operational to meet the growing demand put in place by customers. In these unprecedented times, it can be challenging for both the consumer base and the distribution center to keep up with the overwhelming expectations, but by putting trust in technology, warehouses can overcome hurdles and obstacles.
Samantha is BlueStar's Digital Media Specialist, and the primary contributing writer for VartechNation.
Previously, she has worked as a Public Relations Associate and a Social Media Manager.