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Regularly a hot topic for modern day businesses, the ‘future’ of warehouse automation and the role of robotics continues to be fiercely debated. As the world of eCommerce booms and consumers expect faster and cheaper delivery, storage and distribution centres, warehouses that once relied primarily on human labour are being transformed by greater automation and robotic picking systems. Although they can be hesitant at first, warehouse robotics are something that more and more companies are now beginning to explore, as statistics reflecting the huge boost to picking rates shows the clear benefits of using this technology.
This comes as many market leaders continue to thrive due to having autonomous robots in their warehouses, with well-known industry leaders like Amazon and Ocado already using this technology to dramatically streamline their distribution and fulfilment processes. However before looking too far ahead, it is important to step back and look at how other forms of warehouse automation already available can work for your business.
Automation looks at minimising operating costs through improved productivity and customer service. Automating a warehouse to achieve maximum efficiency is key to delivering the best processes for warehouse stock control and fulfilment. With the world of technology knocking at the door, we look at how businesses can gain an advantageous head start against competitors, ensuring streamlined warehouse management whilst reducing human error caused by clunky paper trails.
But warehouse management systems have been around for a while, surely this isn’t the future?
This is certainly true, yet there are still businesses working from endless paper trails or disintegrated software systems. Relying on these methods to manage processes across your business will ultimately affect your warehouse productivity no end. With manual operations holding up the entire supply chain, the only solution a company will find is increasing staff numbers to provide relief, which in turn increases overheads and swiftly reduces profitability. With robotics on the horizon, not having a digital stock and warehouse management system at this point is simply not going to cut it.
Whether venturing into warehouse management systems for the first time, or upgrading from a bespoke, disconnected system, the decision to invest in a warehouse management system can provide tremendous benefits and help drive your business towards this autonomous future. When choosing a solution, it is vitally important to consider that the software has room from growth as a scalable solution ensures your business needs will be catered for, both now and further down the line.
An effective warehouse management system also promotes customer satisfaction and service by reducing errors in the fulfilment process. With a digital stock and warehouse management system being the bare minimum that companies must look towards if they don’t have this already, many companies are now further automating processes with the introduction of barcode scanning technology. Eliminating human error, effective use of barcodes within the warehouse also speeds up operations and gives businesses the huge benefit of full traceability from goods in to ship.
By optimising your warehouse with an automated system that includes barcode scanning capabilities and can cater for growth, your business already has a head start on the technological changes taking place in warehouse management.
As a business, you can all too easily become solely focused on the happenings of your company alone. This tunnel vision is the easiest way for competitors in your market to rapidly grow, as these companies benefit from supply chains capable of fulfilling orders faster than ever before.
Without keeping your finger on the pulse of happenings within your industry, your business may find themselves the last to adopt new technology that has already been successfully implemented into the warehouses of many others. Missing this call can be detrimental to profits as competitors become quicker and more reliable at delivering orders using this new technology.
Industry leaders such as Amazon have literally been reshaping the way businesses process and fill customer orders. Whilst Amazon may not compare to the size of your operations, a proactive look at their technological advances will give your company the resources to evaluate operations and look to suitable investments that make life easier for pickers, and therefore speed up delivery to awaiting customers.
By pre-empting industry changes and actively considering new routes at every turn, businesses can easily stay ahead of the game and remain at the forefront of technology.
One such change that we have seen are robots in the warehouse. Despite fears that increased use of robotics will lead to job losses, many logistics and eCommerce companies insist they are in fact creating jobs as they open new warehouses to meet rising demand from faster fulfilment.
This next wave of automation comes alongside a prediction that UK warehouse space will run out by 2020, which is a key factor as to why businesses are starting to consider robotics as generally narrower aisle space is needed. As warehouse space becomes limited, looking at solutions to continue to meet growing demand without adding staff numbers becomes the sensible way to progress.
Without warehouse automation, your business can only grow so far. Whilst robots may not be a solution for right now, ensuring plans are in place to use this technology to increase picking speeds and reduce unnecessary human interaction further down the line can offer immeasurable advantages.
If your business is growing and fulfilment is a bottleneck, researching into solutions designed to automate processes can see a wealth of benefits. Automating your warehouse improves workflow, boosts output, reduces worker fatigue and lifts morale. This is because it enables warehouse managers to step back from operational processes and focus on what they were actually employed to do. With such a solution in place, you can increase productivity and allow maximum profitability in the warehouse to be achieved.
Therefore, although a robotics revolution of your warehouse may not be in your immediate plans, you should at least be taking the necessary steps towards a more automated warehouse in preparation for this technology arriving in the coming years. By getting to know your own warehouse, as well as those within your industry to ensure competitors are kept at bay, your business can adequately prepare for the next evolution in warehouse management technology.
You can find out more about our all-in-one warehouse management system by contacting us today on 01522 704083.
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