This relentless mechanization of warehouses means that the prospect of genuinely autonomous warehouses is closer than we might think. Leading supply chain consultants believe that warehouse managers and technicians will soon no longer have to report to work on-site and can monitor operations using computers from the comfort of their homes.
Understanding Smart Warehousing
Autonomous warehousing is already here, and it is just not evenly distributed. When the technology for automated warehousing becomes democratic, the logistics and supply chain industry will experience an unprecedented increase in their effectiveness. Some of the challenges that they will be able to solve are:
- Problems arising from labor shortages
- Coping with narrower delivery windows
- Human error
- Managing e-commerce and Omni–channel shipments
- Fulfillment of small orders
In addition to tackling a slew of challenges, they will further enhance the capabilities of warehouses by providing the following benefits:
- Reduced labor costs
- Faster production times
- Decreased instances of processing errors
- Increase efficiency
- Better inventory management techniques
Warehouses at the frontiers of technology are beginning to resemble their industrial overlords, i.e., their operational paradigms are increasingly indistinguishable from industrial command stations. Apart from their primary function of facilitating storage, they are also capable of just–in–time packaging, assembly, customer collection, and even product customization, unheard of in warehousing circles as recently as two decades ago.
As e-commerce begins to dominate consumption patterns, warehouses are also tasked with restocking returned items. It is a well–documented finding that social media has accelerated the instances of impulse buying, And as much as 20% of online purchases result in returns. Traditionally, returns did not feature in warehousing operations, and their addition to the workflows posed a challenge to warehouse operators already spread thin. Technology is now used to facilitate and restore these returns to the inventory. Smart warehousing is the most optimal method to meet customer demands, which are increasing daily.