How To Build Smarter Warehouses This Year

Warehouses today are faced with a rapidly evolving marketplace, increasing the level of operational and technical demands. This pressure is primarily driven by the growth of e-commerce, estimated to reach $4.5 trillion in global sales by 2021. Along with the growth in online sales comes the escalation of customer expectations for product availability and service.

In addition to meeting the challenges of e-commerce, the warehousing industry also has to account for labour shortages and a 36% turnover rate during peak seasons. This means that a significant portion of warehousing operations need to be automated in order to maintain productivity levels that will continue to meet consumer demands.

Unfortunately, many warehousing operations continue to rely on Legacy solutions that are character-based and notoriously difficult to learn and use. With the end of Microsoft’s extended OS support for Legacy systems, warehouses are searching for new management systems and mobile tools that are user-friendly in order to reduce the cost of downtime and improve overall efficiency.

Our partner in enterprise asset intelligence (Zebra Technologies) conducted a survey to analyze the state of the warehousing marketplace. The online survey asked IT and operations personnel in the manufacturing, retail, transportation and wholesale market segments to share their insights and business plans on staying competitive in the era of digital shopping.

Here are the top trends in smart warehousing solutions:

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Barcode Scanning
Warehouse executives plan to expand the use of barcode scanning by 67% by 2020. This expansion is driven by the increasing demand for greater efficiency, automation and speed in handling inbound/outbound inventory, in addition to complying with strict supplier requirements.

Tablet Computers
For inventory validation, warehouses will upgrade from spreadsheets to mobile/handheld tablets that offer real-time access to warehouse management systems.

Warehouse/Truck Loading Automation
Load optimization is expected to grow by 6% over the next few years. New mobile and data capture technologies will provide real-time analytics designed to boost worker productivity and reduce transportation costs.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
New warehouse management systems and Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) will use an integrated network of machine sensors, RFID readers and wireless mobile devices for seamless data sharing and insights at every level of operations. Migration to on-demand and cloud-based, WaaS (Wireless-as-a-Service) and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) systems will eliminate the cost of on-premise equipment and personnel.

These trends are a clear indication of the shift towards highly mechanized, leaner facilities that reduce labour costs and increase responsiveness to customers. Whether you are responsible for a manufacturing warehouse, a distribution center, or managing inventory in your retail backroom, your operation has to keep up with the pace of advancing e-commerce and consumer demands.

Is your warehouse in the process of migrating from a Legacy management system? Our team can help with planning your migration strategy so you can make an informed decision on a solution that fits your operational needs and budget.

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