When it comes to warehouse management, constant evaluation and adoption of crucial technologies is critical so as to improve profitability and stay competitive. Today, warehouse managers have a wide array of technologies to choose from as they strive to reduce costs, improve efficiency and streamline operations. They must ensure that goods, materials and products flow effortlessly by optimizing their warehouse operations through the use of warehouse technologies. What are some of the latest technologies being used in warehouse management today?
Over the last few years, machine-to-machine technology, or M2M, has greatly evolved into more sophisticated systems that help monitor and streamline all automation aspects of warehouse operations. When combined with warehouse management systems (WMS), the latest M2M systems are making it easier to control all equipment within the warehouse that is vital to the order fulfillment process.
This technology helps collect and trade information that provides warehouse managers with actionable information that can verify operational procedures and expedite decisions.
Order Fulfillment Optimization Technology
Every warehouse should consider introducing the latest order fulfillment technology in the market. Different warehouse technology solutions are available to help maximize order picking productivity and boost accuracy. There are two main solutions: Pick-by-Light and Put-by-Light. These technologies help automate warehouse processes and offer a more efficient and lower cost solution over manual picking methods.
These systems use specific light displays to direct warehouse operators to product locations. They make it easier for operators to know which to products to pick and how many. These systems are highly flexible and the technology comes with the ability to plan, control and analyze volumes of orders picked.
Benefits of Pick-to-Light Systems:
- Increased picking productivity
- Better accountability
- Real-time product or order sorting
- Fewer errors
This technology helps direct operators how and where to allocate products in a warehouse for orders. These systems are highly efficient when it comes to picking from bulk stock. The technology is ideal for retail warehouses that deal with apparel, sporting goods, personal care items, convenience foods, groceries and general merchandise.
Benefits of Put-to-Light Systems:
- High-speed order sorting capability
- Lower cost operation
- Ideal for smaller but consistent daily orders
- Requires less floor space
As new warehouse technologies evolve, Pick/Put-to-Light systems are also being custom designed to combine the durability needed to operate in different warehouse environments with the smart intelligence needed to run changing and diverse workflows with full transparency. The final result is technology that you can rely on to meet your distribution needs.
Warehouse Robotics Technology
New robotics technology has become one of the most sought after technologies for warehouse management. Leading-edge manufacturers are partnering with providers of warehouse management systems to create customized software and smart robots that help manage the movement, storage and sorting of warehouse inventory.
Investing in warehouse robotics technology will highly benefit you. With increasing order volumes, numerous products to navigate, highly personalized order packing and faster shipping requirements, robotics solutions will help you effectively respond to volume growth and perform more tasks with less labor and at a lower cost.
Benefits of Warehouse Robotics:
- Reduced operational and labor costs
- Improved productivity
- Higher order accuracy
- Faster cycle times
- Reduced safety incidents
The increasing demand for higher levels of performance and flexibility in warehouse robotics is stimulating some innovative product developments and early adoptions of mobile warehouse robotics. As a warehouse manager, you should choose robotics technology that best suits your needs.
Voice Tasking Technology
This is a hands-free technology that uses spoken commands for picking, putting, receiving, replenishing and warehouse shipping functions. This technology is almost similar to RF technology and is a flexible choice for order fulfillment.
Benefits of Voice Tasking Technology:
- Improved picking productivity
- Increased picking accuracy
- Requires less operator training
- Improved system control
- Real-time data analysis and communications
- Higher ROI
Labor Management Systems
To effectively manage and control warehouse operational expenses, warehouse managers have to invest in labor management technologies. Measuring productivity can seem challenging, but investing in labor management systems helps take out the guesswork in this critical measurement. When combined with warehouse management systems, you can easily drive reductions in labor costs.
Training is also a critical part of warehouse management. Innovative technology to consider is the use of a learning management system to train warehouse operators regularly. These training systems are designed to be easy to use and create training material and structures that suit your needs.
The Future of Warehouse Management Technology
As more advanced technology is introduced for the warehousing and logistics sectors, it is up to warehouse managers and firms to stay updated on the latest innovations. Upcoming technologies like Pick-by-Vision, Electronic Data Exchange and the use of drones will soon become mainstream in the industry. Implementation of the right technologies will be key to the smooth operations of warehouses and supply chains.
Carl Turner is an established freelance writer with a focus on emerging technologies that shape the retail and commerce industries. He has over 10 years of experience consulting with innovators in various business sectors as well as clients about new innovations in the market. Carl is also a country music lover and fitness enthusiast.