Business

The Technology of Warehouse Management: A Guide

In recent years, the accelerated development of digital technologies has enabled massive productivity gains in the workplace. From tools such as access-controlled lockers to technical principles such as automatic inventory management and automation, the modern warehouse has become a hotbed of enhanced technology.

How does each of these elements come into play, though? Of course, it’s not as simple as setting up a computer and turning it on – each piece of technology has a role to play, but it’s essential to understand how, and why that may be the case.

Let’s explore some of the technologies used in modern warehouses today, and how they can improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

Total Control – The Warehouse Management System

In any warehouse, there exists a central hub. Depending on the size and scope of your warehouse, it may include roles such as inbound and outbound logistics teams, accounting, salespeople, and inventory managers. Often, one of the most difficult roles outside of senior management can be an inventory manager – tracking, tracing, and monitoring stock quantities was excruciatingly difficult, prior to the advent of technology that could assist in the workplace.

Along with modern advancements such as Prolock lockers, technology has allowed for the role of inventory manager to be supported by a digital system known as the warehouse management system (WMS). This enables inventory managers to reach a mass of information at their fingertips. 

For example, shipping manifests with expected arrival dates, digital signing software, storage maps, and identifying which particular products are stored in each part of the warehouse. This brings efficiency gains that benefit the business – more information is known, and there are fewer unknowns for a manager to worry about.

Automatic Inventory Control – It’s Efficient

Ordering errors are a problem that exists in every business. Whether it’s ordering insufficient stock, or accidentally turning a box into a pallet of a slow-selling product. These errors can cost time and bear a large burden on a warehouse, wasting space and time.

Automatic inventory control is a new technology that allows for the ongoing monitoring of product inventory. In conjunction with a website or physical shopfront, an automated system can identify when products are in need of replenishment, without the need to manually manage inventories for hundreds, or even thousands of products. The best asset management software can clearly make lives a lot easier for your business. 

Getting Connected With The Internet of Things (IoT)

Interestingly, while warehouse management solutions have made their name in the industry, a broad range of Internet-connected devices have also made headway in the warehousing industry.

For example, automated wrapping machines use the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify boxes and wrap them for shipping. Handheld scanners allow for rapid order picking and packing, and remote thermostats can assist with reporting temperatures in a warehouse for products that require ongoing cold storage.

There is a potential use for almost any technology in a warehouse, and it’s fascinating to see what developers are coming up with. While we may not see drones in indoor warehouses anytime soon, the Internet of Things is developing into an all-purpose solution for the modern-day warehouse. This technology is changing the face of modern warehouse management as we currently see it.

Automated Storage and Retrieval

As warehouses grow and expand, the amount of equipment and people that may be required to manage an ever-increasing inventory inevitably grows. In an effort to reduce costs, and maximize productivity, automated storage is expected to become a $51 billion industry by 2030.

Optimizing warehouse automation through the use of collaborative robots and automated robotic arms can allow for a mix of human and digital logistics management. This then enables the rapid propagation of new orders throughout the shipping.

Automation has many benefits in the areas of storage and retrieval – not only reducing the time it takes to deploy orders in industries where time is of the essence, but also improving the safety standards of employees by reducing the amount of heavy lifting they may need to do.

In fact, in some industries, fully automated warehousing is becoming a multi-billion dollar investment, particularly for large retailers such as Coles and Woolworths. It is entirely possible that one day, the technology introduced to improve workplace standards could in fact replace workers in their entirety.

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