With the world’s focus turning to supply chain solutions, the role of warehousing continues to become more and more crucial.
In modern business, warehousing is much more than storage. While it is true that warehousing is concerned with the storage of inventory, it also can involve additional services, allowing supply chains to store, pack, track and distribute products with maximized speed and efficiency. This means supply chains can continue to keep up with the growing demands of eCommerce.
Now more than ever, warehousing plays a pivotal role in the supply chain process. Let’s take a closer look at how warehouses support supply chains, helping them grow and streamline their process.
Not all supply chains have the same requirements. That’s why there are several styles of warehouses to fit their specific needs.
Generally, warehouses are used primarily for the storage of inventory. This warehouse type is often utilized for excess or bulk inventory that does not need to be accessed frequently.
Alternatively, distribution warehouses offer a wide variety of services that may be ideal for increasing efficiency and decreasing the tasks required of your staff. Distribution warehouses may support the product’s handling from unpacking to final delivery. This includes picking, packing and shipping for order fulfillment.
Supply chains can also take advantage of smart warehouses, which use automated technology to organize, ship or store inventory. They’re designed to boost productivity while reducing “human” errors, like packaging mishaps or incorrect inventory measurements.
And finally, cold storage warehouses do as the name implies. They keep products cool – but more than just food items. Cold storage is also used for cosmetics, medicine, plants, candles and more. For these perishable items that require climate-controlled environments, warehouses can also help extend the life of supply chain products.
Inventory Storage and Management
Warehouses are most attractive to supply chains thanks to their robust storage and inventory management capabilities.
Especially when using updated technology, warehouses can give supply chains access to real-time data about the status of their products and accompanying statistics. This keeps supply chains in the know about their business performance (how much product is being purchased and moved) and gives them insight into future projections.
And generally, warehouses have a process for storing inventory effectively. They’ll make the most of their facility’s open areas by taking advantage of tall ceilings, storing units by size or by popularity and using digital organizational tools, maximizing the amount of space they can offer supply chains.
Fulfillment and Distribution
Warehouses give supply chains one centralized location for their shipping, packing and distribution needs. These facilities are often equipped with the key tools needed to successfully move products, including loading and shipping docks, picking processes, storage areas and packing stations. Outsourcing distribution to warehouses means supply chains don’t have to recreate this for themselves, saving both time and money.
Loss of inventory can cause significant disruption to supply chain networks. When storing or distributing your products at a warehouse, you’ll have the benefit of that facility’s security system – often employed to protect against potential break-ins. Warehouses also have additional safety measures like smoke alarms and fire systems, decreasing the likelihood of losing products from accidental fires.
Digital Tools and Technology
More and more, warehouses are taking advantage of new technologies to streamline their everyday operations. With this, supply chains can reduce production times by taking advantage of warehouses’ automated picking, packing and shipping processes.
This new technology includes:
- Inventory Management Tools: Using automated identification and data capture (AIDC) or IoT technology, warehouses can help supply chains stay up to date on their inventory levels. This allows supply chains to determine what products need to be ordered to meet required inventory levels.
- Warehouse Management: A WMS is made up of software, hardware and processes that allow warehouses to manage operations from when materials arrive until they are shipped out. WMS controls many warehouse functions, making it possible for supply chains to make better data-driven decisions.
- Tech Wearables: Tech wearables are a game-changer for increasing picking efficiency. For example, employees may wear headsets with a microphone connected to voice-activated technology. This allows employees to receive picking information via an automated voice without needing to circle back or refer to paperwork.
- Industrial Manipulators: Smart warehouses depend on industrial manipulators to increase efficiency, decrease employee injury, and reduce the likelihood of product damage. These material movers help warehouses take advantage of tall storage spaces and free up valuable floor space.
Industrial manipulators are machines with a rigid steel manipulator arm that allow complex pneumatic tilts and rotations — even when the product being moved is handled outside its center of mass. Thanks to their many benefits, these material handlers are crucial for big and small warehouses. Not only do they increase your warehouse’s overall safety, but they allow your employees to handle, move and store items more efficiently.
Here are common uses of industrial manipulators in the manufacturing business:
- A product is too heavy to be moved by hand
- A large number of items must be moved promptly
- Manually moving a product puts a person at risk of injury
- Manually carrying things that will quickly exhaust employees
- A product must be relocated to a place that is difficult or time-consuming for a worker to reach
Optimizing Warehouses for Supply Chain Needs
With so many depending on eCommerce and inventory levels, supply chains must have a defined strategy to succeed. That includes having an optimized warehouse on their side to ensure optimized fulfillment, inventory management and storage.
If you’re a warehouse looking to level up your process, contact the Dalmec team today. Our experts will help find your facility the perfect material mover for your needs.