Pivoting Your Warehouse in a Post-Pandemic World
How to Make The Most of Today's Technology to Compete
As most of the world slowly starts to open back up after the Covid-19 shutdown, be prepared for changes. After a year of learning how to do things differently to accommodate a pandemic, some processes may never go back to the old way. For example, the ways in which we conduct business have certainly changed, with many employees working from home and those who are coming to their place of work finding ways to socially distance. And even more importantly, for material handling and distribution center interests, more and more people are shopping online - making e-commerce a hugely expanding marketplace that calls for faster and more accurate warehouse systems to keep up.
Even before Covid-19 mandated workplace changes and shopping behaviors, technological advances in how material handling and distribution center operations are conducted had started to become more commonplace. For companies that want to stay competitive, exploring how new technology can save money while optimizing production is a must. Even if you cannot incorporate a complete changeover to new and better systems, upgrading where you can will provide a beneficial ROI.
Using today's technology to streamline and integrate your warehouse operations has been proven to solve application pain points that include:
- Labor: Not only is it getting harder to find and keep good employees, in today's changed world it is better to plan on replacing some previously human-driven tasks with automation.
- Safety: Relying on human labor for mindless, repetitive tasks not only causes worker's comp claims to rise, it breeds unsafe practices for both your employees and your product.
- Growth: It's becoming less feasible to purchase more space for your material handling warehouse and storage, so using conveying systems and other space savers starts to make sense.
- Inventory: Taking advantage of today's material handling warehouse design and structure will increase inventory accuracy while decreasing costly product counting mistakes.
- Equipment: Today's "smart" forklifts and other material handling equipment will put fleet operations at your fingertips for constant streams of information to help you make better decisions.
- Integration: Your integrated warehouse systems can be a living, breathing partner, running smoothly and efficiently to accomplish - and surpass - your goals while addressing operation pain points.
These are just some examples of how incorporating technological upgrades into your material handling and distribution center warehouses will boost your productivity, maximize your efficiency, reduce operating costs and put you on a level playing field with your competitors in a changing e-commerce, B2C and B2B world.
Four Ways To Upgrade Post-Pandemic
You've been keeping a close eye on how the world is changing - specifically in relation to material handling and DC warehouse challenges and solutions. Even as the world begins to venture out in person, e-commerce is slated to be a main growth area with more and more people turning to online shopping to purchase the goods they need. In fact, B2C sales are expected to grow to $4.5 trillion this year. To stay competitive, your warehouse needs to meet these market challenges. Here are four ways you can expedite warehouse solutions for your company.
It's not just material handling applications that are moving to automation. Decision makers across the spectrum have discovered why incorporating automation into their business models makes sense for a variety of reasons. With automation, employers can turn their most valuable asset - workers - away from mundane, repetitive tasks and towards more complicated undertakings. Prior to the pandemic, there was a shortage of warehouse workers - and there will be again at some point. Using automation allows managers and supervisors to place employees in critical positions that keep warehouse processes moving smoothly.
Automated processes don't call in sick or make workers comp claims. Damage to product and mistakes in picking just don't happen when automation is dialed in correctly. It's faster and can also track inventory. Automation in today's warehouses runs the gamut from robotics to guided vehicles to storage and inventory.
Get A Smart Start
When we talk about "smart" things today, we aren't discussing diplomas and degrees. In today's world, you'll find the word "smart" in front of home, vehicle - and material handling equipment and systems. In this context, smart refers to processes that are controlled and directed through web-based applications that allow for remote guidance and decision making.
Your whole material handling and DC warehouse can be - and probably already is - smart-enabled, even working intuitively to lower and raise temperatures and take other money-saving steps including turning items on and off as needed. With today's smart equipment, such as forklifts and lifts, business owners have a wealth of information at their fingertips that will help save money in a variety of ways. For example, your smart forklift will tell you when it needs maintenance - before an expensive repair is necessary. It will let you know if it has been involved in an accident. A smart forklift can be programmed for a maximum speed limit, as well as knowing who is allowed to be in the driver's seat. Smart forklifts can move through a warehouse picking items without an employee at the wheel. You'll always know exactly where your forklift is located - saving money and time when its needed.
With e-commerce driving much of today's warehouse design and solutions, there needs to be a system in place to efficiently move a lot of product - much of it unique - from one place to another without errors. Whether your material handling warehouse is moving large, bulky items or small, compact items or both, relying on employees to efficiently pick and move product isn't going to optimize your bottom line. Oftentimes, incorporating the correct configuration of conveying systems and automation will solve a company's need for more warehouse space - something that is sorely needed in today's cutthroat real estate market.
Installing conveying systems is a good place for material handling companies to begin taking advantage of new technology. With many different options available, companies can order conveying systems designed to address their specific challenges - and add on more as the need grows. Using the correct conveying system can solve challenges including warehouse space, efficient and correct picking and handling, plus employee safety.
Warehouse Management and Software Integration
All over the material handling world, warehouse managers, COOs and CFOs are using innovative technology to expedite product, developing strategies to meet customer expectations and finding advanced solutions to improve logistics, all while making sure employees are working in a safe, controlled environment. Along with automation and "smart" forklifts comes the need for warehouse managers to manage upgraded and intuitive warehouse systems that pivot on a dime and fulfill more complicated orders than the previous system of loading a trailer with product for delivery to a brick and mortar store.
By implementing a software warehouse management system, decision makers can use real-time data to direct operations in a holistic sense, rather than being pulled in many directions simultaneously. With automated systems, "smart" machines, conveyors and other equipment all dialed into one software management system, tasks are handled in an order that makes sense - illuminating the overall health of the company's direction and guiding decisions toward the most profitable and best use possible.
Technology changes fast. It's daunting to look at a landscape of new ideas and systems that seem to change by the minute. At Madland Toyota-Lift, we have professionals who can examine your unique situation and explain how today's technological advances can find a place that makes sense in your application. Contact us at one of our three convenient locations to learn strategies for today's market challenges.
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