The ways in which the logistics industry is changing these days are myriad, and that kind of multi-faceted evolution means companies have to be more nimble on a number of fronts. Consequently, when it comes to adopting new technology, it's vital for firms to be able to examine all their options and figure out where they need improvement, and the kind of return on investment these efforts will provide.
One of the big keys to boosting warehouse efficiency with the latest technology is the extent to which these investments will allow for automation of certain processes, according to Logistics Management. Something as simple as being able to automatically process and analyze data with a newer ERP or WMS platform can go a long way in this regard, but so too can the use of certain types of robots or the implementation of wearables that more effectively empower workers to navigate the warehouse with greater ease.
Is a smaller approach possible?
In some instances, where larger investments may not be possible, it could be advisable for companies to look at how more modular adoption of emerging technology can be a boon instead, the report said. A new WMS is, of course, not always easy to implement, but if simply adopting augmented reality seems more feasible, that might be judicious for companies to pursue even as they turn their attentions to more aggressive tech adoption in the future.
Another type of technology that is starting to catch on in this regard is pick-by-voice, which allows pickers in a warehouse or manufacturing setting to boost productivity and reduce mistakes, the report said. Simply by allowing for more hands-free operations, combining pick-by-voice with an existing or new ERP or WMS can cut picking errors by as much as 25 percent, and often doesn't require a lot of technical knowhow on the part of workers.
Where the industry is headed
The fact is that there are many factors which contributed to the technological evolution of the warehouse over the past several years, and will continue to do so for some time to come, according to Frost and Sullivan. Now, companies need to not only see their warehouses in real time thanks to new data sources and increased connectivity, but also anticipate their needs more acutely to keep up with the speed of the industry today.
"The logistics industry is undergoing a significant business transformation, comparable to when Expedia revolutionized the travel industry with online platforms and achieved colossal improvements in the quoting and procurement of services," said Archana Vidyasekar, global research manager of the visionary innovation group at Frost and Sullivan. "New logistics players are now implementing similar business models, providing the much-needed price transparency and seamless service for the freight supply chain. Over the next years, we can expect additional innovative solutions that will reshape the market."
When considering any sort of technological adoption, warehousing executives have a lot of factors to keep in mind. However, keeping an eye on increasing efficiency first and foremost will typically pay off for any company looking to improve its bottom line.