When the general public hears the word “warehouse,” they most likely envision a rather low-tech environment. After all, a warehouse is but a large building filled with shelves and boxes, right? That may have been true in the past, but today these facilities are on the cutting edge of technology in a big way.
The demands of e-commerce and the impact it has had on traditional retail have made speed and efficiency absolutely essential. Warehousing is a critical link in the supply chain, and as such, it needs to adopt every technological advantage to keep up with consumers’ expectations.
What Warehousing Looks Like Today
Far from the dusty, quiet spaces many people might imagine, the warehouses of today are extremely high-tech environments. They need to be, with thousands of SKUs on the shelves and just as many orders pouring in every day. The technology these operations employ take many forms, from handheld scanners to robotic arms to cloud-based software platforms. What they all have in common, however, is a focus on improving the flow of orders and goods through the supply chain.
For instance, one of the most conspicuous additions to these facilities in recent years is the autonomous vehicle. Driven automatically by computers, these motorized carts and forklifts are now responsible for much of the heavy lifting in many warehouses. Because they don’t require operators and can work around the clock, they have been a crucial factor in improving productivity and efficiency in many buildings.
Another recent development is the introduction of wearable devices that keep personnel connected to a centralized system at all times. One primary example is voice picking, which directs workers to items to be picked through computer-generated verbal instructions delivered over a headset. This results in more efficiency, less paperwork and up-to-the-minute information. Plus, it keeps workers’ hands free to do their jobs more effectively.
Envisioning the Future of Warehouses
As the speed of commerce continues to increase and consumers rely on more online shopping, the need for high-tech solutions in the warehouse is only increasing. Even if most facilities don’t use artificial intelligence or handheld devices right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t.
To learn more about common technologies that are transforming the warehousing industry, take a look at the accompanying resource. It details some of the most popular and powerful devices and concepts that are expected to have a significant impact now and in the near future.