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Modern Warehouse: The Warehouse as We Know it is Evolving August 26th, 2022

Modern Warehouse: The Warehouse as We Know it is Evolving
Are your clients keeping pace with competitors?  

The evolution of the modern warehouse has truly become a revolution as the e-commerce boom, innovative technology, and mindset shift from a cost center to a revenue generator has activated wide-reaching change for global warehouse operations. 

It’s essential for technology solutions providers to understand the arc of adaptation in warehousing, along with the modern technology that is increasing productivity, accuracy, safety, and the bottom line, to better position warehouse and DC managers for success in the modern age.  

Two Decades of Evolution  

Warehouses and DCs have adapted over the past two decades, pivoting to meet new demands and trends set by customers and competition. The first step is automation. As warehouses evolved beyond the primary concept of storage, keeping track of receiving, putaway, picking, packing, and shipping became increasingly complex. Paper processes were replaced with digital, especially as tech advanced in the AIDC market. As e-commerce giants like Amazon fulfilled the promise of two-day delivery, customers demanded more of all merchants. Warehouse managers were challenged to meet these expectations and make new processes work cost-effectively. Automating processes was a fundamental cornerstone in the evolution of the warehouse.  

Additional features of the modern warehouse include:  

Integration With Supply Chain Partners 
Warehouses have become a critical part of maintaining the uninterrupted flow of goods. From managing raw materials forNew call-to-action manufacturing to distribution, warehouse operations impact the efficiency of supply chain processes. The warehouse location is crucial to optimizing time to market and delivery, and warehousing services like packing, repacking, and labeling have become vital to the supply chain. 

Revenue Generation 
Over the past decade, business leaders considered warehouse operations as cost centers. However, the evolution of the warehouse saw the shifted mindset towards that of a revenue-generating entity. Accurate shipments at a break-neck pace, taking throughput to new levels, can cushion the bottom line. Additionally, positive customer experiences can help brands build loyalty in highly competitive markets. 

Warehouse Robotics 
As warehouses enter dense urban environments and high-ceiling facilities emerge to accommodate more products, operators need to find ways to control costs and ensure worker safety accessibility for shipping and receiving. Automation and the incorporation of warehouse robotics address these challenges. Implementation of automated guided vehicles (AVGs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and aerial drones assist in warehouse storage and retrieval efforts. Products can be stored and picked safely and efficiently from space that typically had been unreachable. Additionally, robots can quickly scan large locations to access and verify existing inventory information. 

Data-Driven Processes 
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been integral to the evolution of the warehouse, particularly for distribution and fulfillment operations. Not only does AI help aggregate historical real-time data, but it can also be applied with machine-learning-based solutions to help warehouse managers manage inventory and resources more efficiently.  

Modern warehouses are increasing productivity, throughput, and accuracy by implementing AI-based software for dynamic slotting that allows for optimal spatial mapping and travel time predictions. Additionally, AI is aiding warehouse managers by improving the data required to make more accurate workforce planning forecasts that avoid delays and optimize labor productivity. 

Enhanced Warehouse Employee Safety New call-to-action
The evolution of the warehouse has included technology that exponentially increases the safety of human workers. Implementing robotics and warehouse automation has helped decrease potential hazards such as lifting injuries, falls, and worker fatigue. Additionally, the predetermined pathways robots or automated vehicles follow can help employees that are particularly new to the warehouse navigate without detriment to productivity.  

The Rise of Micro-Fulfillment Centers 

As consumer demand increased for conveniences like same-day delivery, buy online pick up curbside (BOPAC), or buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS), the need for fixed point of sale lanes has dwindled. Some retailers have begun repurposing space inside existing stores for warehouse and distribution, giving rise to the micro-fulfillment center (MFC). This allows for the easy implementation of BOPIS and BOPAC and faster delivery of “ship from store” for consumers shopping online.   

Implementing a micro-fulfillment center can typically take up less than 20,000 square feet and streamlines logistics from a last-mile perspective. Incorporating an MFC into an existing physical location also has the added benefit of balancing labor between it and the retail store and incorporating automation and robots to help pick products for fulfillment.  

Pulse Check on Modern Warehouse Technology 

Innovation will continue, contributing to the evolution of the modern warehouse. Solutions providers must keep a finger on the pulse of warehouse technology to creatively address the challenges of tomorrow while helping warehouses and DCs continually improve upon KPIs today. 

Look back at how warehouses have evolved, how they differ from operations a decade or two ago and ensure your clients are keeping up with the competition by providing the solutions they need. 

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