The supply chain has been, for several years now, moving completely into the digital sphere. And the most recent innovation to come from that is the drive to automate warehouses and make the shift from paper-based operations to completely paperless.
While many businesses are going about it on their own, the majority are making the transition with the help of a qualified 3PL such as Redwood. Either way, the use of manually tracked and organized paper-based systems is becoming increasingly outdated, especially with rising customer demand for faster delivery speeds.
What would a totally paperless warehouse look like—and is it even possible?
What is a Paperless Warehouse?
A “paperless warehouse” refers to the use of all digital record-keeping and automation in a warehouse. It’s about more than just not using paper.
It’s about completely automating the warehouse system with different technologies that reduce inefficiencies, minimize mistakes, streamline operations, and cut down on overall waste.
Typically, “paperless” is making the warehouse logistical process go digital. This usually means implementing a WMS that transforms the warehouse into a more automated environment. These online systems can then be connected to other processes along the supply chain through IoT devices.
What are the Benefits of a Paperless Warehouse?
Companies that have implemented a paperless warehouse have seen improved:
Accuracy and efficiency
Use of resources
Accuracy and Efficiency
There is a high risk of errors and inefficiency when everything is performed manual, by a human being.
From incorrect logging to misplaced papers, manual management is slow and ineffective. Automated digital warehouse management systems offer real-time, accurate data with digital record keeping and on-floor mobile devices. You know exactly where items, shipments, and trucks are at all times, which radically increases E2E visibility throughout the supply chain.
These systems are also much less prone to human error, which means faster and more accurate reporting. That means that any potential issues that arise can be handled in real-time for more precise data entries and fewer delays.
Use of Resources
Although the upfront cost to make the switch to automation seems lofty, doing so saves a significant amount of resources over time. Printers and materials cost money, and organizing all that paperwork is time-consuming and tedious. Keeping it digital reduces the need for these resources, letting the computer do the work (that your employees currently dislike doing).
There is also a decreased risk of damages and losses involved in a digital operation. With enhanced visibility, in the event you suffer a loss, your team can pinpoint exactly where the loss occurred to ensure the correct party is held responsible.
Additionally, warehouse systems utilize AI to handle inventory to ensure all storage space is used most effectively.
Paperless warehouses increase productivity by minimizing mistakes, allowing for more accurate data entry, streamlining operations, improving the flow of goods, and better utilization of resources. Every company wants to enhance its productivity rate, and automated warehouses are the first step towards that radical revolution in productivity.
Greater visibility and productivity directly impacts the overall customer experience. Warehouse management systems can better manage the flow of goods, so you know exactly where the inventory is at all times. This means you can offer improved tracking to clients with reasonable timelines and ensure that stock levels are maintained at all times.
A completely paperless warehouse is entirely possible, and the majority of businesses are already moving in that direction. The warehouse is the fulcrum of the supply chain, so automating warehouse operations is critical to streamlining the entire logistics process.
The initial cost of going paperless feels like an obstacle, especially for smaller warehouses. Making the switch to digital is a necessity in order to compete in the long-term, though. The future of the warehouse is total automation as a means of keeping up with increasing customer demands for transparency, efficiency, and speed.
Is your warehouse and logistics process ready for the future? If automation isn’t on your mind, it should be (if you want to be in business in the next ten years).