Whether we like it or not, the logistics industry is changing. These days warehouses are expected to keep up with multiple channels and rising customer expectations. The truth is, everything a warehouse needs to conquer these challenges is available in one form or another today. But it’s the same old story as years gone by – the magic of technological innovation is dissolved in the widespread fear of change. Here are five supply chain innovations we think are worth giving in to the fear.
Electric forklift trucks
Many businesses have already warmed to electric trucks, but there are still misconceptions surrounding the machines. Recent developments on Mitsubishi forklifts means electric trucks are now actually more water resistant than diesel or LPG trucks. Offering dust and waterproof protection to the IP rating of IP54, the Mitsubishi electric forklift is specifically designed for indoor and outdoor use.
Warehouse storage systems
For many businesses, storage space is a real issue. When it comes to the peak Christmas period, some warehouses resort to temporary buildings or even overstocking their existing warehouse. By installing a warehouse storage system, some businesses have managed to increase their overall storage capacity by up to 60%. With simpler returns handling, less stress on workers, and a system that can be scaled to meet rises in demand – you are guaranteed to improve customer satisfaction.
Imagine if service engineers could log in to a “digital copy” of your warehouse instead of visiting your site to rectify a problem. That possibility already exists today in the form of augmented reality. Some warehouse management systems can collect the necessary data on your operation to enable specified people to view details remotely. This means less time is wasted waiting for an engineer to turn up, and operational hiccups are solved faster.
Checking your inventory can be a time-consuming task, but not if you are assisted by drones that track and count stock. Equipped with RFID reading technology, these little UAVs will simplify your stocktake, so operators are free to continue with the daily task of material flow. Of course, we’re not forgetting that these little flying workers may also be used during last-mile delivery in the future. In addition to Amazon’s ambitious plans to have worker drones deliver goods direct from the warehouse to the customers’ front door, UPS has unveiled a plan for building delivery drones into its trucks to assist drivers at the very last mile.
As mentioned previously, collecting data on your operation can go a long way to improving efficiency. Besides the opportunity for augmented reality, a digital copy of your warehouse can also offer you new insight into your operation. It is even possible for this data to help you detect errors before they happen in reality, giving you time to rectify the issue before it causes delays to the operation and unforeseen costs to the business.
Are we ready?
Perhaps the advantages these supply chain innovations bring to operations do outweigh the fear, but are we ready to embrace this change? Much like past developments, like email and social media, there is always a degree of reluctance before it becomes part of mainstream culture – so maybe it’s time to reap the advantages while your competitors remain on the fence.