It wouldn’t be a long shot to claim that the warehouse industry is the skeleton of any 21st century business. You see, with modern retailers putting a heavy emphasis on features such as same- or next-day delivery, it becomes more than clear that, in order for all of this to work, one needs to heavily invest in the field of inventory management. In order to show you just how serious things are, it is vital to mention that at this very moment, US retailers are sitting on $1.43 of goods for every $1 they manage to sell.
When it comes to a single company, one needs to take things such as errors, lost opportunities, as well as increased costs into consideration, in order to take their business to the next level. Unless one has decades (or at the very least years) of experience in this industry, it is highly unlikely they will manage to deal with such matters adequately. Luckily, present-day technology can more than make up for this discrepancy in experience. Here are a few ways you can use warehouse management innovations to make your business overall more efficient.
Robots to the rescue
One of the first things that need to be addressed in the world of warehouse business in the 21st century is the issue of robotics. A few years back, Amazon bought Kiva Systems Inc. for a staggering figure of $775 million. Although this robot manufacturer has had some impressive results in the past, many people in the business world frowned at such a large figure. Today, however, these Kiva robots have turned out to bring more than a great ROI. As of January 2017, Amazon has over 45,000 robots in their warehouses and at this point, there is no longer any hint of doubt that the aforementioned purchase was one of the greatest deals of the century.
Initially, there was a certain amount of concern about “robots taking over”, but people often tend to overlook the positive improvements they bring to the industry. First of all, long walks through the warehouses and heavy lifting are no longer the responsibility of the staff, but are the job of the machines. In this way, instead of being a replacement for human workers, these robots are rather becoming their assistants. This also means a lot easier jobs for everyone, especially people who are nearing their retirement.
Inventory management software
Another great advantage of modern warehouse business is the option of using inventory management software for the needs of your business. For starters, you get complete supply chain visibility. This alone gives you a chance to significantly improve your organizational abilities, since it also provides insight into actionable information of both outbound and inbound product flows.
Aside from this, you get the benefit of direct oversight over the factors directly affecting the quality of your management. For example, there are some items in your possession that have a limited durability (perishable materials). While, in theory, this is something you need to have in mind, there are some occurrences over which you won’t have any power whatsoever. Delayed shipments, broken packages and all sorts of errors are something that simply happens, whether you like it or not. Still, with the right software, such risks can be reduced to a minimum.
Finally, every single product in your warehouse is a potential liability. An adequate management software can help you make more efficient inventory turns and in this way maximize your profits while minimizing your effort.
The next item on this list is not so much of a technological, as it is a technical improvement. We are naturally talking about the layout of your warehouse and a few ways you can make it more time-saving. You see, the less time your staff (or the aforementioned robots) have to commute around your warehouse, the more work-efficient (and time-efficient) it is. One of the ways to make your warehouse adhere to these principles is to organize it according to your unique operations. For example, items that are shipped together need to be stored together. It goes without saying that you should also find a way to make a highly-efficient numerical system and use it to ‘map’ your warehouse.
Acquire the necessary equipment
Finally, you need to keep in mind that warehouse robots aren’t the only piece of equipment you will have to acquire. In order to optimize the use of vertical space in your warehouse, you may want to invest a bit in the acquisition of adequate scissor lifts. Next, you need to pay attention to simpler item types such as rack systems, partitions, barriers, shelving and work benches. Aside from that, you may also need some hose- and cord-reels, drums, containers and o scales of appropriate size and capacity. The higher quality of these items you manage to afford, the easier your job will be.
As you can see, there are more than a few ways in which 2017 technology and warehouse management can form a powerful symbiosis. Nonetheless, not all of the aforementioned solutions are suitable for everyone. For example, robots are quite expensive, which means they might not pay off anytime soon for some of the smaller warehouses. On the other hand, some basic gear and a solid inventory management software are always a good idea. At the end of the day, no one knows the needs of your business better than you do.