Warehousing is an integral part of any logistics and supply chain management system. For a layman, it merely involves storing a product. However, warehousing is much more than that and also encompasses the inbound functions for storing products and the outbound responsibilities of shipping and packing.
The way your warehouse is managed significantly impacts your customer experience. Warehousing helps streamline inventory management, ensures price stabilization, and improves risk management. Although humankind has been using them for centuries, warehousing as a topic is still evolving.
Warehousing trends that are doing the rounds today may fall out of favor tomorrow. So to streamline your warehouse operations, you need to stay on top of emerging upgrades. With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at some 2020 warehousing trends that will shape the future of warehouse management.
More warehouses to acquire latest technology
Manual warehousing processes steal considerable chunks of valuable hours and are vulnerable to costly blunders. Warehouses around the world understand this and have stepped up their efforts to acquire new technology. The top 10 innovations that are expected to attract most investments in 2020 are:
- Big data/analytics
- Barcode scanning
- Internet of Things
- Stationary label printers
- Wearable devices
- Advanced imagers and cameras
- Mobile thermal printers
- Truck loading automation, and
- Tablet computers
Warehouse executives have big plans to equip their staff with automated tools that provide visibility across warehouse processes. It is expected that the use of barcode scanning will increase by leaps and bounds (67 percent) over the next five years. The increase in demand for barcode technology will be driven by a rise in the number of solutions with superior efficiency, the need for automation, and the necessity to handle inbound and outbound inventory processes swiftly.
Many businesses will equip a substantial percentage of their warehouse management team with mobile and handheld tablets. These systems provide real-time access to warehouse management systems and are much more efficient than pen-and-paper based methods.
Another latest warehouse trend is related to load optimization. It is expected that load optimization will increase by 6 percent in the coming years. In 2020, more warehouse executives will make a pitch for mobile and data load capture and load optimization technology solutions. This advanced software should offer real-time analytics, which helps boost workforce productivity and reduce transportation costs.
More businesses to invest in warehouse management systems
The key to warehousing success is automation. As more businesses understand this, the demand for warehouse management systems is bound to increase. It’s reasonable to believe that the demand for the best-of-breed WMS and Real-Time Location Systems capable of tracking the location of objects in real-time will go up significantly in 2020. These highly advanced automated solutions will replace legacy systems.
The requirement for yard management systems that track trailers in storage yards and provide real-time data related to their location is also expected to rise in the coming year. Warehouse managers can use the insights generated by these systems to determine the right time to move trailers from staging to docks. This helps fulfill orders more quickly.
In 2020, many warehouses will migrate to on-demand and cloud-based SaaS to eliminate the costs of on-premise equipment.
Warehouses will come up with a strategy to improve visibility
To get visibility into different processes, warehouses will invest in RFID technology and the Internet of Things. Warehouse executives even plan to use IoT to link various devices used in supply chain management processes. This will help generate a plethora of data across a range of operations, including inventory tracking and order picking.
Earlier RFID systems were used only by big businesses owing to their high price. With time, the cost of RFID technology has gone down, making it more accessible. In 2020, more warehouses than ever before will invest in RFID solutions.
RFID can provide accurate information related to the location of items. The data can help managers make better decisions. Furthermore, it is expected that logistics providers, distributors, retailers, and manufacturers will more than double their usage of RFID for inventory validation by next year.
An RFID-enabled warehouse management system can help improve the shipment verification process and speed up merchandise replenishment, promoting overall efficiency.
More businesses to invest in voice-based processes to improve employee productivity
According to estimates, a new employee requires 60+ hours of training to reach full productivity. To decrease this time, warehouses are planning to migrate from voice-only systems to voice and screen directed inventory picking and replenishment.In 2020, more businesses will utilize multi-modal picking that combines voice picking and screen-directed picking (through mobile devices).
Also, many companies will turn to task interleaving, a practice that uses employees’ location and data related to device usage to maximize their movements. This helps save time and enables them to perform more tasks. In the near future, warehouses will even expand the use of cross-docking to minimize manual material handling.
Warehouses to ramp up their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint
Warehouses around the world realize the importance of minimizing the environmental consequences of their operations. To reduce their carbon footprints, many have launched multiple eco-conscious initiatives, such as high-efficiency equipment to bring down energy consumption and recycling materials used for packaging.
Other movements include reviewing data to optimize vehicle utilization (and in the process, reduce emissions and costs) and employing biodegradable packaging materials.
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