Warehousing & Storage in the Digital Age
This is a guest post by Arslan Hassan.
The digital age has changed the way warehousing and storage take place. Since most businesses are running through warehouses, the digital advancements must revolutionize the way that warehousing and storage are done. This is important to increase the efficiency of processes and minimize the need for unnecessary resources. Most businesses at some point store their products in a warehouse where several manual procedures take place which can result in a lack of efficiency and delays. To improve the processes that take place inside a warehouse, various technologies and software have been integrated with the warehouse procedures.
Some of the technologies worth mentioning are cloud software, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. The digital tools and technology have indeed transformed the nature of operations that take place in this domain. Other than that, some robots and drones help with regular warehouse activities as well. Let’s look at the effect of the digital age on warehousing and storage in detail and all the possible advantages that advanced technology has in store for us.
Advantages of Warehousing & Storage in the Digital Age
Below are some of the advantages of digitalizing warehousing and storage.
#1 – Less Storage
A noticeable advantage of the digital-age warehousing is that there will be less in the physical stores and an increased flow of products. Manufacturers now focus to reduce the number of products and supplies that they store. Lesser storage means that there will be an increase in the flow. This will enable orders to be dispatched without any delays, thereby improving the efficiency of the processes and reducing the delivery period.
#2 – Flexibility In Operations
Warehouses are supposed to have efficient operations and work on tight deadlines. Moreover, there are several instances when there are last-minute demands that need to be dealt with in urgency. Technology is improving the way these requests are handled. Warehouses have been extremely efficient through big data analytics and other integrated technologies.
#3 – The Concept Of “Smart Warehousing”
The traditional method of warehousing does not incorporate flexible operations nor does it focus on scalable operations. Thus, the warehousing model has changed due to increasing customer expectations. Experts suggest that simply converting operations into digital forms will not be enough. There is a need to integrate cloud operations with cloud technology to gain maximum benefit.
#4 – The Advantages of Using Blockchain Technology
The digital age of warehousing is bound to make improvements as time goes by. It is predicted that the blockchain method is bound to bring improvements in the logistics sector. Blockchain is one of the most talked-about tech trends that we have witnessed in the past few years. Blockchain can help keep real-time track of inventory and all related data can be recorded efficiently. It can create transparency at managing inventory levels. Moreover, it is also extremely proficient at tracing the steps in the processes throughout the entire cycle that completes at the end-user.
#5 – Improvement in Management Systems
An obvious advantage of implementing digital technology on warehousing and storage is a drastic improvement in the management system. The latest management systems that are linked to warehousing are flexible and accurate. They are well-structured to deal with the growing demands of the customers and everyone else along the entire supply chain process. Having the right management system is crucial when it comes to managing a warehouse. An inaccurate system can create unnecessary errors and bottlenecks which will eventually disturb the process flow and slow down operations.
#6 – Personalized Software
A big advantage of the current technology trends is that there is a high level of personalization possible at every level. Similar to what we see in other sectors, using software has made warehouse management extremely efficient. Users are in a position to choose a plan that is right for their company and that addresses issues while reducing impediments. There are new technologies that are created every single day that are helping to deal with customer demands.
#7 – Improved Monitoring and Evaluation
As the digital age continues to empower various sectors, there is a widespread improvement in how we are monitoring and evaluating our current business operations. The advent of technologies like the blockchain, internet of things, and big data analytics has given the warehouse management a chance to improve their monitoring and control actions. They can monitor their internal and external resources in a much better way. Moreover, this also improves the chances of optimization. The improved transparency has paved the way to carry out operations in a better way which has led to an increase in the number of satisfied customers.
#8 – The Incorporation of Robots
Robots are becoming more and more intelligent with every passing day. They are no longer limited to monotonous day-to-day tasks. Now, robots are also part of interactions that were once only possible by humans. This does not mean that robots have entirely taken over human jobs – they are better suited to do strenuous jobs that could be stressful for humans to perform otherwise. They are also better at providing speed and efficiency when it comes to time-consuming tasks. This eventually helps warehouses to reduce overall costs as well, since they don’t have to hire expensive human labor.
It is not just strenuous activities that can be performed by robots. They are also useful in carrying out tasks that require lengthy calculations – those that may take much more time if done by a human as compared to a robot. Some examples of activities that can be carried out by robots are scheduling and tracking the items in the inventory. With robots taking care of the tedious and monotonous chores, the employees can focus on adding value through innovation.
#9 – Planning Ahead
Warehousing is one industry that falls short in advanced planning strategies. Interestingly, they are also required to plan in order to prevent any delays and to improve their management. Through various technologies, it has been made possible to forecast the needs of a particular warehouse based on previous trends. Various machine learning techniques are making it possible to carry out such forecasts. For example, the data collected through various methods would be able to notify the warehouse management when they need to order particular items such as the Shireen Band and cables. An even more efficient warehouse management system would be able to place the order as soon as it has been noted that the product is short in the inventory. The ability to plan ahead of time is a great way to minimize the risks related to scheduling and helps to keep the customer satisfied.
#10 – Chatbots Making It Easy
Due to the ease that they provide to the users, chatbots are a common feature on different websites. Chatbots are artificial intelligence-based software applications that pick user data and engage with the users in a way that a human would. Although a chatbot does not posess all the human abilities, it does provide round-the-clock assistance to any customers that visit a website. Moreover, a chatbot can also be programmed to provide real-time information and data. You can either program your chatbot to be text-based or voice-based depending on the nature of operations of your warehouse.
Challenges of Warehousing & Storage in the Digital Age
As the trends continue to evolve, we will be leaving our traditional warehouse practices far behind in no time at all. This will naturally lead to certain issues. These issues may or may not be bigger initially and we will slowly learn to adapt. Below are some of the disadvantages of digitalizing the warehousing and storage sector.
#1 – With the improvement in the warehouse management system, the owners will start to focus their shift on decreasing the costs. Since the software and technologies are already quite costly there will be an added issue of scaling down the budget.
#2 – With so many machines and robots taking care of business operations there will be added pressure to be accurate. There will be a very small window to allow mistakes for all those who are working in the warehouse.
#3 – There will be a constant pressure to minimize the inventory as much as possible to reduce the storage.
#4 – Digitization of orders will cause an increase in the overall requirement; there will be an increase in the orders to be shipped on the same day due to the customers placing orders online.
#5 – There would be an increase in demand from the customer’s side to make highly customized products. This would eventually lead to increased pressure and would require the warehouse to increase their operational flexibility.
The future of warehousing is bound to get more efficient and technologically advanced. However, it may come with a few shortcomings. It will primarily put additional pressure on the employees to improve their services at all costs and will not leave any room for mistakes. This could be extremely pressurizing and a daunting task to deal with, especially in the beginning. But the system and processes will evolve and get better with time.
Universal Cargo can take care of your warehousing needs as well as importing and exporting your goods.
This was a guest post by Arslan Hassan.
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing, and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Shireen Inc.