Technological advances influence our lives and work great, whether they are made in small steps or huge leaps. This is why the market may not be everyone’s playing field. When such progress is made, it is important to implement future trends as soon as possible; one must always be informed and looking for ways to improve his business. Smart warehousing devices are slowly revolutionising inventory management systems, people are realising the benefits of eCommerce, and being on top of the game is more important, and more difficult, than ever.Innovative Technologies
It is astounding how big of an effect technology has had on our lives. It is crucial that we understand how technology can ease the burden of a business, especially in the field of warehousing. So, where do we begin?
Firstly, the innovations begin with implementation of the Internet of Things. To put it simply, IoT is a way of connecting multiple devices. When a large number of automated parts is in play, it is important for them to be in sync. IoT is a concept which optimizes processes so that all collected data is kept in a single network. This allows for precise control, planning, and more work can be done over a shorter period of time.
To add, warehouse management systems (WMS, for short) are also one of the basic systems every warehouse needs. Instantly connecting any member of the supply chain, this data storage allows for fast reports and shipments can be ordered straight away.
With the invention of AGVs (automatic guided vehicles), warehouse navigation has become clean and organised. Up to now, forklifts have been used when packages are to be moved, but it has been proven safer and more efficient to use AGVs. These machines can be pre-programmed with an assignment in advance, which increases efficiency with employees being able to work alongside highly accurate machinery.
Many people fear that androids may begin taking our jobs; what if they simply worked alongside us? Cobots, or collaborative robots, are the latest generation of automatons, and they have a wide variety of uses. Over time, they are becoming cheaper and easier to introduce to everyday warehousing activities. Therefore, if you haven’t already, it is time to acquaint yourself with your prospective helpers. Classical robots are made to be stationary, next to a production line for example. Newer cobots can be made mobile and can be programmed for multiple tasks. Thanks to their pressure sensitive plates, they know how to handle fragile items and this assures the safety of handled articles. Still, the biggest benefit this presents is the smaller overall burden on workers and managers. Workers are relieved of the more boring, dirty, and in some cases dangerous jobs, and managers can point their attention to more pressing matters, knowing that the warehouse is in safe hands.eCommerce and Warehousing
It had started as an experimental venture, but eCommerce has become a race. As products can be ordered and delivered worldwide, businesses are rushing to grab the attention of consumers. How does online shopping influence inventory? To put it simply, everything is moving at a much faster rate. Many sellers have been caught off guard, and have thus lost complete control over their products in that it is difficult to keep track of deliveries. People who can keep up the pace and ride the tide, however, are seeing their business grow rapidly.
Good organisation is also of vital importance, as good foresight will help every ordeal run smoothly. Some orders are more common than others, especially if you take seasonal needs into account. Not all products are equally popular during the whole year, and more frequent deliveries should be kept at easily accessible spots. To avoid the chaos some smaller orders might cause, managers have begun using cluster-picking strategies. Instead of taking a dozen trips across a large storage facility, orders are grouped and a sizable cart that is able to handle a higher load carries them in a single trip. Have you thought of taking advantage of IoT systems and having multiple facilities? As long as constant communication is present, you could separate the commonly sought after inventory from the not-so-common, maximising space efficiency.Safety
As previously mentioned, automated systems take off some of the workers’ load. Dangerous and monotonous jobs are left to machinery, and consequently, workers can focus on more complicated tasks. The sensors implemented in most devices also serve to keep personnel safe, but is there still danger?
Manual lifting and unclean, unorganised passages may lead to injury. A badly shelved product may fall and injure a worker, and this could easily have been prevented. Safety barriers, while not considered state of the art technology, find use in preventing unwanted accidents. They can cut off damaged or potentially hazardous passageways both from workers and pedestrians.
It is also important for personnel to wear safety equipment. While some consider it unnecessary and time-consuming, a simple pair of safety goggles and a helmet don’t take long to put on, but definitely improve worker safety.Going Green
Whether industry can be nature-friendly is a controversial and increasingly important topic. Customers’ expectations and legal regulations show that people are demanding for active green thinking which, in reality, is not impossible to realise. For example, workspaces in the open should use solar energy as much as possible. Underground construction introduces natural cooling to work environments, and lightweight construction is possible by using lighter materials. Recycling is also a problem that can be worked on, as supply chains account for a large part of the carbon footprint. Making landfills is a bad habit, and installation of a recycling system is definitely not too big of a venture. Simply informing employees on some of these problems goes a long way.
By being aware of the new upgrades and changes often made to technology, you can stay on top of the game and therefore keep your business running. Foresight and planning will noticeably help in avoiding the hectic work environment eCommerce brings because of its speed. Safety, both of workers and our surroundings, should be an active priority as it isn’t difficult to implement into a facility.
Liam Smith is an Australian based blogger with an extensive portfolio specialized in Manufacturing and Logistics, of late writing on behalf of Sitecraft from Sydney. He can usually be found with an espresso in one hand and a book in the other. When not working, he’s spending time with his family and friends or putting pen to paper for his own personal pursuits.