Imagine what it’d mean for your warehouse if you could glimpse into the future. You could foresee demand spikes or market disruptions—then adapt accordingly to keep operations running smoothly and products flowing out the door.
Luckily, you don’t need a crystal ball to prepare for what the future may bring. If you invest in technology today, your warehouse will be well equipped to handle whatever comes your way.
The key is automation
A future-proof facility is one that can keep up with the predictable (like seasonal peaks) and the unpredictable (like the COVID-19 pandemic). That requires the kind of speed and efficiency made possible by automation.
Robotic order picking systems can perform the majority of product handling operations far faster and with much higher accuracy than humanly possible—making automated facilities six times more efficient than their manual counterparts.
Such systems can also run 24/7 with little human intervention. Order fulfillment won’t be impacted by ongoing labor shortages common across industries or sudden workforce disruptions like we saw during the pandemic.
But robots can’t do it alone
A Warehouse Control System (WCS) intelligently orchestrates everything from individual robot movements to the entire material flow—adjusting in real time based on information around inventory, order lines, priorities, deadlines, etc.
It’s this convergence of robots, data and analytics that takes your warehouse from simply automated to smart, agile and resilient.
Three tips to kickstart deployment
When implementing automation, here’s a few tips to ensure short-and long-term success:
1. Focus on today: With any automation project, it’s a good idea to focus on processes where automation will solve immediate challenges and provide the biggest/quickest ROI. Your solution provider can review your historical data and current operations to help you identify where these opportunities are.
2. Build for tomorrow: Invest in a flexible solution that can beeasily modified for future growth. For example, a standardized solution with a modular design allows you to scale up your levels of automation as your business grows. And, if you build in extra storage capacity, you won’t feel the squeeze of SKU proliferation.
3. Think small to scale fast: Consider innovative fulfillment strategies that allow you to scale with speed. For instance, many organizations are now opening multiple micro-fulfillment centers in regions near high demand. These automated pop-up warehouses—compact in size—are cost-effective and can be set up in a faction of the time to quickly satisfy growing regional demand.
Ensure you have a resilient warehouse equipped to run at its best, at all times, long into the future. Click here download our white paper “Resilience for tomorrow: How to future-proof your warehouse operations.”
Author Derek Rickard