Unbeknownst to the average consumer, warehouses across the globe are working nonstop to account for inventory, manage incoming orders, and fulfill the bottom line despite the supply chain constraints present in the world of commerce and trade today. As a result, most of these warehousing solutions are operating at sub-optimal levels and barely meeting their minimum requirements, and that’s not even mentioning the ongoing labor shortage that keeps many store shelves barren and prevents productivity.
However, that’s not to say all is lost for the global supply chain, and the one saving grace that enables warehouse management to stay afloat and appease demand at a reasonable level is with the help of emerging technologies and innovations in logistics operations. And if you’re among the majority of business owners still reeling in from the supply chain crisis, now’s the most crucial time of investing in upgrades to improve warehouse fulfillment capacity.
#1 Use Data Analytics And Measure KPIs
One of the quickest and most accessible ways of using technology to your advantage in warehouse management is to use data analytics in measuring key performance indicators that will highlight specific areas of improvements and processes that aren’t providing positive returns. You see, with the growth of e-commerce, there’s been a drastic increase in smaller, frequent orders that expect next-day delivery, meaning that (1) asset utilization must be maximized and (2) order lead times per volume should be reduced to an acceptable level.
Evaluate Asset Utilization
While your work floor may currently house five different machines, you must evaluate if these specific equipment are running at their advertised usage and productivity. Often, one bad apple typically goes undetected, and while the discrepancies may be minimal at first, its long-term consequences are nothing to scoff at. That being the case, when monitored with KPIs, you can highlight which ones need to be sent back to your machinery provider alongside a process service legal document for immediate replacement.
Volume And Order Lead Time
Apart from utilization, the actual time taken for each volume of orders from start to finish is an important metric for gauging the efficiency of warehouse operations. And if you can highlight picking orders that take too long or loading processes of more than 30 minutes to complete, you can discern which strategies need refining and what equipment might be introducing slowdowns. Essentially, it gives you an overview of human, mechanical, and operational factors affecting work productivity.
#2 Emphasize Warehouse Energy Savings
Besides directly monitoring operations and highlighting inefficiencies in warehouse management, reducing costs is another excellent method of maximizing the value gained from a warehouse. And one of the more pressing concerns in terms of waste is associated with energy consumption, which is why the (1) use of alternative energy production is becoming increasingly popular, and the (2) implementation of natural ventilation systems are being adopted for energy savings.
Use Alternative Energy Production
Whether it’s lighting, heating, or powering fans and pumps all over the warehouse, energy is utilized 24/7, and the risk of wasting some is a frequent occurrence in many buildings everywhere. However, by introducing alternative energy production systems like wind turbines and biomass boilers, you can significantly cut back on energy costs with more sustainable mileage. Plus, when combined with renewable energy solutions like solar, you can effectively reduce carbon emissions as well.
Implement Natural Ventilation Systems
Heating solutions, depending on the location and climate where the warehouse is situated, can quickly accumulate costs when working at 100%. As a result, implementing natural ventilation systems to oversee some functions is an excellent way of bringing down overall costs to an acceptable amount. For example, you could install ventilation stacks, use automatic window opening systems, or take advantage of the effective thermal mass of the building itself.
#3 Automate With AI And Robotics
Last but not least, the most direct method of increasing warehouse management efficiency is through automation with the help of artificial intelligence and robotics, and while the upfront costs are expensive, the productivity gained pays for itself in no time. Specifically, among the most common robotic investments for warehouses to this day include collaborative robots and robotic arms to help with menial and repetitive tasks that need fulfilling 24/7.
Collaborative Robots And Robotic Arms:
While you won’t be matching Amazon’s fulfillment centers anytime soon, companies like Ocado are unveiling lighter robots to increase competition, technology that you can invest in right now. And whether it’s to help with picker tasks, loading specific shipments, or deployment for inventory replenishment, co-robots and robotic arms are your safest bet.
Overall, warehousing solutions are becoming a blend of manual input and the presence of emerging technologies, and if you want to keep up with the rest of the world, embracing innovation is non-negotiable. So, go over some of the pieces of advice mentioned above once more and discern which actionable steps suit your situation best.