Thanks to growing numbers of online orders and ever-increasing demands, warehouses have been finding ways to adapt.
For many, this has meant transitioning from their paper models to digital warehouse management that can keep up with their picking process and constantly changing inventory numbers.
While e-commerce has affected every aspect of warehouse operations, there are four major trends that have had the most impact on the manufacturing process. Let’s take a closer look at these factors:
Focus on Faster Delivery
Especially during the 2020 quarantine, online orders soared. Reports show that consumers spent $861 billion online last year – 44% more than 2019.
Along with this increased demand, consumers had growing expectations for their online orders, looking for a seamless and consistent user experience. Businesses, therefore, sought the help of warehouse management services to complete and ship orders as quick as possible.
Warehouses also invested more time in optimizing their warehouses as a whole to find any obstacles hindering their productivity. This included adopting new machinery, such as industrial manipulators and handlers, and technology, such as handheld devices for picking. Tools like these reduce the amount of time employees have to spend moving or searching for products, which means they can get orders out the door more quickly.
For many facilities, more resources have also been funneled towards optimizing their picking process and storage systems. Say your employees are using an inefficient picking system only to find that products are unorganized, in the wrong place or, worst of all, lost. Your warehouse is going to experience significant delays, which leads to longer delivery times and angry customers.
Switching to Digital Processes
In response to the changes in demands and customer needs, warehouses have embarked on a digital transformation. This switch has been geared towards smart warehousing, where machinery and automated tools help improve warehouse operations and inventory management. Due to the growth of e-commerce, facilities are now looking for real-time data gathering capabilities to make better managerial and financial decisions.
Additionally, warehouses have been transitioning not only to online digital processes, but more flexible, automated technology for their team members. Employees are using fixed desktop workstations less and less, and instead working on smartphones and mobile devices. Autonomous guided vehicles are now being used as substitutes for forklifts during transportation inside and outside the warehouse. And even drones are being used as sensors, barcode scanners and cameras. At its core, the goal of this digital transformation is to successfully leverage technology and team power to optimize workflows and increase efficiency at a lower operational cost.
Tackling Unpredictable Inventory Volume
Before COVID-19, many warehouses were able to predict their sales patterns relatively well. Peak inventory times often fell around the holiday period and tended to remain stable throughout the year. But the pandemic led to an unexpected boom that warehouses and manufacturers were not prepared to manage.
While there’s no way to completely prepare for a crisis like this, warehouse management teams now have a better idea of what to expect from a similar situation. Now, they’re taking proactive steps to plan for unpredictable inventory issues in the future. This could include a variety of actions, such as investing in inventory-focused warehouse management systems, updating their storage process or creating a company protocol for excess inventory issues.
The Addition of Material Handling Equipment
Industrial manipulators have only become more and more popular throughout the years and their benefits were especially helpful during the 2020 e-commerce boom. Here’s why so many facilities chose to invest last year:
Firstly, they not only save time, but they also save your employees from potential injuries. Many times, warehouse employees are left struggling to store or transport heavy items by themselves. Material handlers allow your employers to complete these tasks quicker while removing the physical strain of moving products manually. This greatly reduces the likelihood of injury on the floor.
Second, manipulators proved crucial during 2020. These handlers allowed employees to keep their distance from the products and from each other during their daily operations. Material handlers have allowed warehouses to stay up and running while adhering to the latest safety codes and guidelines.
And last but not least, warehouses are realizing just how much money an industrial manipulator can save them. By decreasing injuries, reducing downtime and increasing productivity, industrial manipulators continues to prove themselves a smart decision for warehouse bottom lines.
Let’s Help You Adapt
With the recent e-commerce boom, warehouses all over have had adapt to, or at least contend with, these new trends. Going forward, manufacturers will be continuing to adapt to the increased inventory demands, growing number of consumers and the new age of digital management.
Our Dalmec manipulators are proven to help reduce your warehouse strain, boost your productivity and lessen the likelihood of employee injury. If you are looking for a partner to find the right material handling solution for your facility, contact our team today.