How Technology Improves Warehouse Agility?
How Technology Improves Warehouse Agility?
Retail e-commerce sales are exponentially rising! According to a global survey platform, Statista, e-commerce sales are anticipated for a dynamic 50% upsurge from $907.9 billion in 2022 to $1.4 trillion in 2025.
Now, that leaves warehouses chasing to keep up and constantly evolving to accommodate the growing demand. Fortunately, innovative technologies facilitate modernizing warehouses, expanding them to house unpredictable supply chain behavior.
More importantly, you should regularly revise your warehouse layout to increase efficiency, making it agile and ready to adapt to random changes. And that is where we turn to technology!
The impact of technology on Warehousing:
It is no secret that Warehousing, like everything else, is in a technology-driven revolution. From inventory control to product centralization and keeping the goods safe, companies look forward to innovative technologies and tools for inventory & supply chain management.
Robots, drones, a focus on green consumerism, omnichannel selling, better payment processing, customized packaging with same-day delivery options, voice shopping, etc., are some of the technological advancements witnessed in the supply chain space.
As companies race to identify and adopt emerging technologies, we got into an expert panel talk with the CXO-suit experts in the supply chain industry. If you are finding ways to cut costs, optimize operations and improve overall supply chain efficiency, this panel talk will surely help.
The crux of the panel discussion:
Moderator: Sameer Nagpal, CBO at InfoVision
Panelists: Nicholas Curattalo, Head of Partnerships at Loadsmart
Ken Milman, Director of Product Management, FedEx
Sudhakar Namasivayam, Director of Software Engineering at Overstock
Siddharth Singh, Director of Engineering at Quiet Platforms
How Technology Improves Warehouse Agility
The ability to manage and optimize warehouse activities is a key component of effective operations. In an era of continuous change, many of the features and functions of a modern WMS will be expected to continue to evolve with technology integration.
You might also like to read: How to Digitally Transform Your E-Commerce Business – AICorespot
Let us explore the support offered by modern technology in warehouse functions.
Why is technology essential for warehouse management?
Retail has never been as profitable as it is now. There is some magic in the warehouse space with the latest technologies making all the revolution.
Which technologies are leading warehousing practices?
Speed of delivery:
One of the most technology-driven trends in the retail industry is the same-day delivery process adopted by most e-commerce companies. Well, that also happens to be the very first topic in our expert panel discussion.
Shredding light on the same-day delivery warehousing functions, Mr. Siddharth Singh, Director of Engineering at Quiet Platforms, expressed his views. An expert in Agile and waterfall project management technologies, Siddharth bags close to 2 decades of expertise in core functional areas, including building highly efficient teams and charter strategic planning and execution, driving technical design and solutions selling strategies, product development, execution, and launch.
According to Siddharth, delivering parcels on the same day involves tedious background activities, difficult to put into one page! He further added, “This challenging task of making the physical parcel reach the respective customers on the same day demands
- An accurate report of all the inventory-level stocks,
- A good network of services around the different connecting points of delivery,
- An estimation of the exact delivery time,
- End-to-end carriers within the organization, and more!”
Ken Milman, our next panelist, leading the product management and vision of same-day-day delivery at FedEx, also made a standout point on the same-day delivery topic. As per Ken, a two+ day delivery is more convenient and efficient as we have a chance of batching-up deliveries or opting for 100 deliveries or pick-up in the background. It helps optimize the source facility by checking the cost and using route optimization software.
Adding to the thoughts running around the same-day delivery, Ken pointed out, “these days we have crowdsourcing solutions (with their pros and cons) and autonomous delivery- drone delivery, van delivery, and smaller delivery devices (the sidewalk delivery devices).”
Automation in delivery:
Sameer Nagpal, the Chief Business Officer at InfoVision, heading the Retail, Consumer, and Logistics Verticals at InfoVision, also the moderator for the event, mentioned that automation turns out to be the future of everything around, including the technology implementation making Warehousing more efficient.
Sameer conveyed, “Automation technology like AI (Artificial Intelligence), Robots, and RFIDs is making all the buzz around the Warehousing today. ”
Picking up Sameer’s thoughts, Sudhakar Namasivayam, Software Engineer at Overstock, went ahead next. Leading the post-purchase experience for customers from a software engineering perspective, Sudhakar has witnessed the automation happening from the inside out. For him, the availability of real-time data for wireless operations has become the key to advanced warehousing solutions.
Sudhakar suggested, “Finding autonomous or low code solutions, like RPA (Robotic Process Automation), can help make Warehousing more predictable and consistent.”
Plan of the shipment and execution, error handling, routing, re-routing, capturing data, etc., are all the various processes in the Warehousing space witnessing automation at the core.
Meanwhile, Sameer shared another data point report that suggested 46% of repeated issues surfaced due to manual/human errors in the supply chain process, which lead to almost 1.7 trillion lost opportunities.
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Nicholas thinks that imbibing technology into Warehousing starts from outside–> in, unlike the general processes that go inside out.
You would get it when we mention a busy warehouse with around eight to ten trucks lining up the front entrance of the Warehouse first thing every morning!
That said, you can address the above issue by sharing calendar links stating the time and day of the delivery!
The technologies related to the progression of loading and unloading trucks are a brilliant example of Robotics in the Warehousing space.
Traditionally used huge automation devices that are costly are getting replaced by robotic type devices augmenting the agility around the place. These devices can perform multiple functions like loading, unloading, palletizing, depalletizing, and many other capabilities.
IoT (Internet of Things):
Sensor-based logistics have introduced more than just endpoint visibility.
According to Ken, “Real-time monitoring and location-monitoring sensors presenting visibility throughout the delivery provide richer information. It allows you to account for the changes that might come up in the supply chain, given order or other security concerns (geofencing) on the go.”
Sameer also spoke about the indoor drone solution that his team has introduced in their Warehousing.
These indoor drones assist in the inventory, doing the cycle counts or midday counts throughout the day. The advantage of these drones is that they avoid any static or dynamic obstacles.
Ken seconds Sameer’s thoughts by saying drones can readily adapt to closed workplaces like warehouses.
Inventory control is a resource-intensive process, according to Sudhakar. He thinks, “having automation in the Inventory processes would be a great blessing.”
Pick-to-light (or PTL) is an order-picking technology for warehouses and distribution centers. PTL picks up lights and LEDs visible on racks or shelves, exhibiting pick locations. These light pilot order-pickers assist through their picking work. Pick-to-light systems boost picking efficiency when compared to RF picking.
Whereas Pick-to-voice, though a futuristic concept (already in use at some fully automated warehouses), can be looked forward to touching base shortly.
A digital twin is a virtual model or representation. It reflects a physical object like a real one. It is like a warehouse in simulation.
What is blocking the endorsement of technology in Warehousing?
These are some of the factors that pull back the warehouses from advancing.
Reluctance in accepting the technology:
There are many underlying facts to consider when a more manual Warehouse transitions to the technology-imbibed one. Talking about the same, Nicholas Curattalo, Head of Partnerships for Logistics Service Partners, and SaaS solutions at Loadsmart, put to the table his expertise.
Nicholas opines, “Warehouses can automate around 80-85% of duties within, but there needs to be a human touch, and people prefer ‘the ways someone’s personally kit,’ making certain items exclude the list of automation. ”
He further adds,” I have seen pick and pack in pretty much everything, except that end line, where somebody stands to make sure that robotics didn’t screw up (the last line of defense)!”
Lack of awareness:
The general uneasiness among the Warehousing folks in implementing technology boils down to the fear of losing their jobs to robots!
However, folks fail to recognize that the technology is in place to make them more efficient. That is where the growth is stagnant in the very first place.
If this post intrigues you and you decide to watch the whole story uncut, you may click the link below and watch the complete panel discussion on our YouTube channel.
Calling it a day:
All that said, technology is changing the warehouse game altogether.
The rapid changes and unpredictable supply chain behavior are prompting an agile and ready-to-adapt nature for warehouses. Thus, we rely on technology to help us manage our business.
Again, each Warehouse stands different, and they should incorporate a well-balanced combination of technology depending upon their requirements and preferences.