Industry experts have predicted the trends for the coming year in logistics and warehousing. Their picks are varied, but there’s no doubt that they all agree on technology continuing to move the industry forward. Among the trends to watch are automation, augmented reality and smart devices. Have you thought about how your warehouse will meet the trends? Will your current storage fixtures do the job or will you need to invest in additional equipment? You can take advantage of the trends with traditional warehousing products if you look ahead and plan for innovation.
Automation – This is one area that can be broadly defined. The question is, how advanced do you want your automation to be? You may foresee robots working alongside humans doing the picking and packing, or you may simply want a carton flow rack system that helps organize your inventory. Either way, you can ultimately combine the best of traditional warehousing equipment with contemporary technology. If your goal is the robot but you are currently only budgeted for basic inventory storage units, it might be a good idea to look ahead and invest in storage shelving and decking that will accommodate the long, slender arm or a wide base of a robot. Build your shelving so that it’s future-ready.
Augmented Virtual Realities – Trend reporters believe that augmented virtual realities will take a strong foothold in logistics and warehousing because these products can make workers’ jobs easier and quicker. Employees will access the technology through wearable clothing and accessories. A pair of “Smart glasses” is one accessory we think is especially cool for warehousing. The glasses allow hands-free picking by displaying all of the information about the order in the user’s field of vision exactly when they need it. There is no need for the picker to touch the inventory. Barcode scanning is done automatically when the product is moved. While this product has its “wow” factor and it may cut down on fulfillment time, the inventory still needs to be shelved and counted and moved. Traditional cantilevered shelves or lightweight pallet racking systems might be the key to organizing inventory for the virtual reality technology.
Networked Devices – Smart sensors will be networked throughout the supply chain, with all key planners having access to the data. Sensors in the warehouse can keep track of the inventory movement, as well as the available space after each order is filled, providing immediate, up-to-the-minute data to the warehouse, the distributor and the manufacturer. Smart sensors can also make the operation of heavy equipment or fork lifts safer, and they can sense potential problem areas throughout the warehouse before they become huge issues. These sensors should be able to identify overloaded shelves, weak shelving support, distressed inventory, and more. Smart sensors can even provide data that will influence your choice of fixtures by letting you know how your current design is working. If you need more heavy-duty shelving for bigger loads or more air circulation around the product by use of wire decking, smart sensors can supply the data that helps you make those decisions.
Until all of these trends and technologies become mainstream, warehousing will continue to rely on the human smart brain to make decisions about inventory levels, picking and packing systems and safety conditions. Everything Warehouse will continue to help you design and install the most cost-effective and efficient warehouse by giving you a variety of product choices, from cantilever shelves and wire decking to pallet racks and forklifts. That’s not a passing trend.