How technology is disrupting warehouse management

Posted in Inventory and warehousing.

Warehouse management is practically unrecognisable from the days of aisle-to-aisle supervisors and shelves scattered with paperwork – and we have technology to thank. While the warehouse, logistics, and shipping worlds are at something of a turning point right now, with promises (or is it threats?) of a complete artificial intelligence (AI) takeover, we’re already beginning to see the early signs of disruption.

And luckily for us, most of the technology-induced disruption that we’re seeing today is massively benefiting warehouse management, streamlining processes, improving accuracy, and enabling us to boost customer satisfaction through alternative ways, such as our ‘back of house’ processes.

Here are a few ways that warehouses are being turned upside down (metaphorically, of course!) by the latest technologies, completely transforming the way we manage warehouse space in the 21st century:

Inventories are Changing

Technology is shaking up our inventories, and most of the time it’s for the better. Through easier access to real time stock information, and through the availability of big data analysis tools, the way we order, hold, and handle our stock is changing significantly. Technology makes it simpler to break down single products into their individual SKUs, to address variation-specific supply and demand concerns (keeping our customers happy!). It also provides a unique opportunity for us not only to identify trends from historical purchase data, but also to estimate and predict future trends based on buying behaviours.

Roles are Different

Adverts for warehouse management jobs certainly don’t look quite the same as they did 20 years ago. Warehouse recruitment was previously dominated by manual labour roles. These are today giving way to alternative positions which value a huge variety of different skills, experiences, and talents. The rise in semi autonomous (and the expected future launch of completely autonomous) vehicles, such as the impressive shelf-climbing robots that can stack up to 400 parcels per hour, are making room for increased creative skills in the warehouse; getting the ball rolling on more innovative technologies.

Collaboration is Happening

The world of warehouse management is expanding… quite literally. Once a task that was confined to the aisles, technology is opening up doors to greater collaboration between multiple points in the supply chain, and to input from various sources, regardless of physical location. Remote working through handheld mobile devices and cloud computing, for example, is encouraging collaboration between warehouse workers, logistics teams, and sales reps, resulting in better communications, and ultimately, a reduction in order errors and stock issues, with a simultaneous boost in customer satisfaction.

The Future of the Warehouse

Technology is unpredictable; that’s one of its greatest benefits, as well as being one of our biggest fears! The truth is that, thanks to the ever evolving world of technology, we don’t know exactly how it will impact warehouse management in the future. What we do know, however, is that right now, technology really is shaking things up and disrupting the way we work – and for the time being, that’s a good thing.