As technology becomes more accessible and affordable, there are many ways in which businesses can benefit. This is certainly true when it comes to warehouse and manufacturing enterprises, where operations are now being revolutionized by greater connectivity across a variety of devices. That, in turn, allows companies to keep everyone on the shop floor connected to their warehouse management systems throughout the day.
Certainly, the proliferation of mobile devices plays a huge role in getting more insight into the hands of everyone from workers to the executives in the boardroom. Portable devices are now common just about everywhere and can be obtained at some fairly low price points, allowing companies to adopt tech that brings greater efficiency without worrying about having to get an immediate return on a costly investment.
A clear benefit
When adopting mobile devices, companies are granted the ability to examine their processes from the ground up. Managers can track hours for individual workers and look at how they or the machinery they operate moves throughout the facility. Such readily available information can help decision-makers determine ways to streamline operations, which cuts small costs here and there that add up to big savings.
For example, 59 percent of distribution centers said they relied on paper-based picking technologies in 2016, down from 63 percent in 2013, according to Logistics Management. During that same period, use of mobile technologies started to tick up incrementally. Light-assisted scan verification rose from 8 percent to 12 percent over the three years. Even a few technologies that weren't in use three years prior became somewhat common in the past two years, indicating that adoption of new devices is on the rise.
IoT helping as well
Indeed, the ability to connect a broader range of devices via the Internet of Things has been crucial to improved efficiency as well, according to Read IT Quik. This is thanks to how both sensing and gateway devices integrate into warehouse management systems keep a watchful eye on every step of the receiving, production or shipping processes. That effort further helps companies make more informed decisions about how they can improve their bottom lines on an ongoing basis.
It's no wonder that the market for modern warehouse management systems that can handle greater integration is expected to grow sharply over the next several years, according to research firm Reportlinker. In North America alone, it's believed there will be significant rates of adoption from 2016 to 2022 because of how feature-rich new platforms have become as well as the cost and time needed to devote to maintaining older systems.
Further driving broader adoption in this regard, developers are now pushing out industry-specific management systems that allow them to address their needs more effectively. Companies that make the switch – especially small and medium-sized firms – should see significant improvement in their operations in a relatively short period of time.
However, because options are proliferating so quickly, it may also be important for companies to carefully examine all their options. Doing so will help to determine which warehouse management systems will work best for both their current needs, and those they anticipate a few years or more down the line.