Conventional Warehousing industry is facing a number of challenges that includes – the ever raising operational costs, significant increase of labor costs, time wasted in inventory identification and order handling, very less automation, increasing online sales resulting in huge warehouse demands.
All these challenges require a complete revamp of warehouses from their current conventional state to a smart structure that can be autonomous, intelligent and overcome the above mentioned challenges.
Robots are starting to get in the heavy machinery industries. They are starting to fill in in handling repetitive heavy handling tasks instead of humans. This is contributing to deploy humans on other high critical tasks and also ensures the safety of humans. While this robotic impact is already more pronounced in the heavy industries, conventional warehousing is yet to feel its impact. Robotic technologies are changing drastically with developments that is preparing them to several new fields that are not explored before.
Warehousing has changed significantly in the last couple of decades based on the way the logistics have been handled. This has resulted in mostly conveyor style warehouse solutions. While this is efficient to certain extent, one cannot claim this to be a fully autonomous structure. Due to the rapidly evolving technologies in the major industrial front, warehousing has to adapt to a radical change that fits it to be part of the factory of the future. In this article let us look at the various technologies that will augment and contribute to the evolution of the future warehousing.
First and foremost issue with Warehousing is catering to the demand. Demand from consumers is never the same. In order to be ready to meet the demand cycles, Warehousing should be flexible to handle the seasonal demand trends. For becoming flexible, Warehousing tend to have system modularity. Using an intelligent modular warehousing platform, modularity can be achieved that enables customers to redesign and smartly use their warehouse equipments as the demand varies. This modular architectural warehousing designs will help to handle huge demand by planning and building modules ahead of time.
Additionally, Warehouses could also be connected to be part of a blockchain. With a blockchain approach, warehouse receives the order at the same time as it is placed. This immediate data flow helps to address the orders in the most efficient way. For example, early information available through blockchain can be used in advance to optimize the warehouse operation. In addition, predictive data can be received from
the robotic equipments in warehouse could also be used in the analytics to ensure that the warehouses are operating smoothly. In case of any abnormalities detected in the predictive data, alternative methods could be readily considered due to the advance analytics prediction engine. As the predictive analytics matures, warehouse will benefit a lot by coupling the demand data and inventory data.
As shown in the figure, Future Warehouse will be based on these three core technology that will provide the key benefits to optimize warehouse operation. In addition, based on the levels of smartness required, Warehouse owners could add additional technologies such as IoT, and Artificial Intelligence algorithms to power their Predictive Analytics engine.
Some may even consider managing and maintaining these robots could be a challenge. In those cases, the business model could further improve to provide the robots as a service – meaning derisking every possible risk related to robots to 3rd parties. This also provides an opportunity to upgrade warehouse without significant investments.
Warehousing adopting to these technologies are not in distant future. When they adopt and transform themselves from their current dormant state to a smart center, this transformation will also supercharge the e‐commerce business world as it will definitely contribute to huge cost benefits to the consumers.
Written by Moorthy Ramasamy