From automated picking tools and automatic guided vehicles to comprehensive, integrated warehouse solutions, warehousing technology develops quickly. If you can keep up with the latest industrial technology standards, you can increase efficiency and reliability, ultimately earning a competitive advantage.
But what are the latest and greatest breakthroughs in the world of warehousing technology? And how can you take advantage of them?
Big Developments in the World of Warehousing Technology
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest developments in the world of warehousing technology:
1. Totally integrated solutions. Integrated warehouse solutions have become more advanced and much more popular. In the words of Yisroel Teitlebaum, Co-founder and President of Energy Electronics LLC, “Individual technological improvements are valuable, but for warehouses to reach peak efficiency, they need all their technology working together in a single, integrated, unified system.” Integrating technologies together makes it easier for users to do what they need to do, while simultaneously boosting your overall productivity by augmenting your capabilities. With a single, unifying platform, you can tap into the full technological potential of your organization.
2. IoT developments. Internet of things (IoT) technologies have always been exciting for the warehousing industry, changing how we track individual items, how we manage inventory, and even how we measure productivity. From personal devices to tablets to tiny RFID chips, an individual warehouse might be home to tens of thousands of connected devices under one network. And thanks to those devices, warehouses can gather more information than ever before in real time.
3. Big data and predictive analytics. What do you do with all that information? One answer is to utilize predictive analytics. If you have enough data, you can predict almost anything, meaning warehouses can forecast demand with greater accuracy, assess and make improvements to internal processes, and more. With the right systems, and the right decision making from leaders, warehouses can use big data and predictive analytics to make massive procedural and operational improvements.
4. Robotics and automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Most modern warehouses incorporate robotics to take over manual tasks and save money on labor. Similarly, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) have become more advanced and exploded in popularity. In a modern warehouse, you might see dozens or even hundreds of automated robots moving inventory from one side of the warehouse to the other or taking care of little manual tasks that would otherwise require a human employee.
5. Wearable tech for workers. Warehouse workers are increasingly relying on wearable technology for their jobs. These wearable devices provide a wide range of productive features while also tracking movements for productivity analysis and overall warehouse analytics. Safety features also have the potential to reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
6. Novel forms of automation. Operational managers in warehouse settings have always appreciated any form of automation available, even in the primitive form of a conveyor belt. But modern forms of automation are much more sophisticated. Coordinating robotics and automated algorithms, managers have the ability to get more done in a day without having to hire more people.
7. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning and artificial intelligence are technologies that have influenced almost every industry at this point, and they’re only going to get more sophisticated and capable from here. Complex neural networks can analyze patterns, make business recommendations, and completely take over certain aspects of warehousing.
8. The blockchain. Most people familiar with the blockchain on a basic level understand it as the foundation of cryptocurrency, but it also has impressive applications in the warehousing world. In case you aren’t familiar, the blockchain is a technology that uses a distributed ledger to keep track of transactions, with peer users in a coordinated system validating each other’s transactions. In the cryptocurrency world, the blockchain is used to record and verify monetary transactions between users, keeping the data transparent yet secure. In the warehousing world, the blockchain offers similar advantages, allowing warehouses, vendors, and partners to share data on every transaction in a secure and accessible way.
What’s Next for Warehousing?
So what are the next technologies we anticipate for the warehousing world?
It’s always hard to predict exactly where the world of technology is going to evolve. Every day, engineers, scientists, and innovators push the limits of what we can accomplish with technology. And every few years, some major breakthrough unleashes its transformative potential on the industry.
What we do know is that technology is going to keep growing to be more sophisticated And more capable, and the warehouses that successfully adapted to these changing technologies are the ones with the greatest potential to succeed.
If you want your warehouse to be competitively dominant, it’s on you to keep up with those technological developments.