More logistics companies are putting money toward technological investments as a means of keeping up with ever-changing demands. With this reality in mind, it's vital executives also make sure they have the tools in place to not only take the next step in warehouse technology, but to also further capitalize on what the latest offerings can provide. To that end, logistics executives should view current warehouse management systems as a must-have, so that they can maximize the return on those technology investments as quickly as possible.
Warehousing facilities upgrade their in-house technology for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest catalyst these days is that consumers' expectations for omnichannel options on orders has changed dramatically in recent years, according to SHD Logistics. Retailers and logistics facilities feel the effects of omnichannel demand on an increasing basis, and as a result, they place greater importance on having the right WMS platform in place.
While WMS has been around for decades, newer offerings in the field provide significant benefits above and beyond legacy systems. Many users can collect data from a number of new technology options – such as "voice picking" or "pick-to-light" – with greater ease to give decision-makers and workers alike a better picture of the supply line, in real time.
Data-related investments growing rapidly
The amount of time, money and effort put toward collecting and utilizing data is on the rise across all industries these days, according to Information Management. Included in that trend is heavier investment in services related to managing all the data being collected, as well as software that makes the data actionable. Indeed, global software investments related to data use are expected to hit more than $70 billion in 2020, behind a 12 percent compound annual growth rate. While these investments aren't alwaysy specifically for WMS, the trend across many industies is clear: Executives now recognize the need to adapt or risk falling behind the competition.
Taking control of the latest tech
One of the big trends in logistics these days is the use of robots and other automated processes to make everything on the shop floor run more smoothly, but not every warehouse may be set up to truly harness the potential these options provide, according to Supply and Demand Chain Executive. These machines present many advantages, such as collecting data to further streamline processes, but some executives may still be wary of taking this next step.
This trend toward automation may become particularly important because of the increasing demand for well-trained logistics employees, but the relative shortage of those workers expected to arise in the near future. Warehouses tend to have higher turnover rates, requiring continual retraining. Fortunately, robots tend to be fairly easy to work with and can significantly aid in data collection and reducing order turnaround times.
"We streamline the picking process to approach the theoretical limit on how quickly you can pick an item off the shelf, scan it and put it in the bin," Locus Robotics chairman and founder Bruce Welty told the site.
With these issues in mind, executives will likely need to create an overarching strategy for how their facilities will move into the next generation of warehouse operations. Choosing the right tech to put into place, and the proper WMS platform to collect and organize the resulting data will likely result in a huge net gain for logistics businesses as the industry continues to evolve.