Innovation : Key to the Warehouse of the Future
Many companies were not prepared for the unexpected and precipitous breakthrough of online sales in this period of global pandemic.
According to the Federation of E-commerce and Distance Selling (Fevad), "after 12 months of crisis Covid: Internet sales of physical stores have grown twice as fast as the market average, and 3 times faster than that of pure-player sites.
And consumers seem to have adopted this online behavior in a sustainable way. So, companies need to think about how to prepare their warehouses so that they can handle an increase in online orders, combined with a resurgence in physical purchasing.
The lesson to be learned from these months of global pandemic is that companies that were able to sustain their business are the ones that are now making a difference in the marketplace. Indeed, the periods of containment revealed the most resilient companies, who knew how to make the precipitous transition from physical to virtual without a hitch.
Now that most companies are resurfacing and adapting to a new way of consumption, it's time to ask what the warehouse of tomorrow will look like. What will the logistics organization look like in times of pandemic, what actions and equipment are becoming permanently embedded in the processes?
A big challenge concerns management of small item orders, because until now, many warehouses only worked with suppliers or classic stores (therefore with pallets). Picking and packing of small volume orders is a totally different management, especially considering the delivery times.
Warehouses that do not know how to manage this type of order will lose efficiency. They must be able to find new solutions to adapt to the new forms of orders, moreover their formats are multiplying to meet the retail players and the new challenges of omnichannel.
Process automation increases warehouse throughput and potentially provides additional storage capacity. Order picking can account for up to 60% of warehouse operating costs. Robotization comes to help the operator find and transport the required units faster.
The robot prepares almost the entire order autonomously to ensure a delivery within the day, in only a few hours, and can arrange the stock in the warehouse in height to save space.
The "Goods to Man" method: the operator is located at the end of the order preparation for assembly. He gains in speed to prepare the order since he does not have to move any more to the storage shelves. Human errors are therefore reduced, and the safety of the employee is increased.
Robotization speeds up the process and allows to respond quickly to the demand. Time is saved, without sloppy work which also limits the risk of return from the customer dissatisfied with his purchase.
It should be noted that from a health point of view and in times of global pandemic, robots in warehouses make it possible to respect the rules of social distancing and to limit the exchanges between operators during the picking. But human pickers are still essential to perform the tasks that the robot cannot do. It is also able to react to peaks in demand or exceptional events, whereas the installation of a new machine in a crisis would take too long.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two other important elements in the warehouse. Several picking methods already help to go faster: batch picking, for example, allows more products to be picked in one trip, but the operator must sort again in his picking area. Artificial intelligence and machine learning make it possible to go even faster.
By analyzing the orders of the past days, artificial intelligence can predict with more accuracy how long it will take to prepare the next day's orders to deliver them on time.
The rise of the cloud also speeds up processes. By opting for cloud-based software, warehouse users can be sure they always have work with the last version of the software. It can be accessed from anywhere, so the software does not pose constraints for operators who are on the move, working from multiple devices, or multiple people.
This makes it easier for warehouse teams to access artificial intelligence. Implementing new technologies and work methods is easier and faster. And if the company is not prepared for the future, if its systems and processes cannot keep up within the environment, it will have difficulty surviving.
The warehouse then becomes a true place of innovation, and the idea will continue to grow. As the health crisis has shown, logistics is key to any business and investing in it is well worth it.
Monstock is the stock and flow management solution that accompanies you in the digitalization and transformation of your warehouses. Simple and intuitive to use, Monstock allows you to analyze your history of customer orders and purchases to offer you orders accordingly.
Discover our page dedicated to the smart factory and Artificial Intelligence here.
For more information, contact the Monstock team.