Before 2018, over 60% of warehouses had expanded their technology investments to include digital capabilities. The goal was to ensure that they were prepared for the future of supply chains to operate at peak efficiency. Today, having digital capabilities is a must and partnering businesses and customers expect that your warehousing and distribution processes include technological innovations. Here are some of the expansions in tech for warehousing and distribution services.
Use of EDI Communication Technology in Various Sector
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has made its way into many warehouses over the past few years. It allows for the sharing of documents between two computer systems, using a format that is compatible with both. When EDI is integrated into a quality warehouse management system (WMS) it provides benefits like the seamless flow of information, increased visibility, compatibility, greater efficiency, and collaboration between all parties. The warehousing sector has used EDI for the following procedures:
- Purchase orders
- Warehouse shipping orders
- Stock transfer receipts
- Shipping advice
- Inventory advice
Drones and Robots
Science fiction has inspired the creation of technologies like drones, which carry a wide variety of applications. They have made appearances in film productions as ways to hover cameras over landscapes, and have even found their way into the supply chain industry. As companies seek to increase their levels of automation, drones have been able to provide several benefits including the following:
- Reduced labour costs
- Improved efficiency
- Minimal errors with processing
- Faster movement of goods
- Human resources redirected to more complex responsibilities
- Reduced workplace injuries
- Increased competitive edge
Drones and robots are used for scanning barcodes that are too far for warehouse workers to reach. They can be navigated to reach high shelves that would normally require the use of a forklift, cage, and manual workers. These airborne aids are essential for companies like Amazon and Walmart, and are brightening the future for other companies that have implemented them in their warehouse.
Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID)
Another major force in warehousing is radio frequency identification technology, or RFID. It uses radio waves to feed information between stock tags and the device that picks up the signal. This information allows for greater stock visibility and transparency, which leads to better management of inventory. RFID devices can be connected to drones and can catalogue inventory faster than manual workers. Stock can be stacked as high as warehouse managers want, because this technology will enable all levels of access.
Cloud storage also offers many benefits to the supply chain. It cuts down maintenance, infrastructure, and labour costs from constantly keeping WMS up-to-date. To prevent information from being out of date or obsolete, cloud systems allow accurate and updated data to be displayed across the entire network (for those who have access). Cloud storage systems can also be fairly affordable, and can come as a feature of partnering with a third-party logistics company.
E-commerce companies today need omnichannel solutions to succeed. Since the future is digital, warehousing will need to adapt to meet the expectations and needs of customers and other businesses in the network. Omnichannel is an approach to sales that provides customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they are online, on a mobile device, over the phone, or in a physical store. Some of the benefits of omnichannel operations include the following:
- Better management of inventory and reduced costs
- Seller benefits and buyer satisfaction
- Real-time reporting
- Increased revenue
- Warehouse productivity
- Customer retention
- Improved brand perception
Use of Battery Technology
Battery technology has developed in a way that can aid warehouse operations around the world. Two batteries, in particular, can draw energy from nearby power grids or from renewable sources, like solar power. Designed by Tesla, these batteries can achieve two great benefits:
- They enable greater automation as it uses a local and affordable energy source, which offsets the costs of installing automated systems; and
- Their connection to renewable energy sources allows for better flexibility in warehouse locations. (They are not dependent on local utility grids).
Voice Tasking Technology
Voice tasking technology makes work more efficient for warehouse workers. By responding to voice commands, this technology can pick, put, receive, replenish, and perform various warehouse shipping functions. It is similar to RF technology, and increases flexibility in the order fulfillment process. Here are some of the benefits of voice tasking tech:
- Improved picking productivity and accuracy
- Less operator training required
- Improved system control
- Higher return on investment
- Real-time data communications and analysis
How Lean Supply Solutions Can Help You
These warehousing tech innovations are just a sample of the various improvements that are available for companies to utilize. For many companies, these technologies have transformed the way warehouses operate and have improved all the consecutive operations down the line. If your business has yet to implement technology or needs to upgrade its systems, it may seem overwhelming to adapt. However, you can reap the rewards of digitizing your system by outsourcing to a 3PL company with the tech you need.
Lean Supply Solutions provides effective supply chain management using several of these digital technologies, and we make ourselves aware of the rising trends to help our clients stay ahead of their competitors. We commit to being aware of our clients’ operational challenges and help them get the most out of their processes, and achieve this by providing exceptional services. We can offer consistent, accurate, and quality results by ensuring that the right products are provided to the right customers at the right time, while saving you money, and we can help you track and understand your metrics better. Our services include warehouse pick and pack, contract logistics, manufacturing support, technology, warehousing distribution services, e-commerce fulfillment, consulting, and more.
To learn more about our warehouse value-added services, or to ask any questions, contact us today.