Warehouse managers and their partners face a wide variety of challenges in managing day-to-day operations. From the late arrival of inventory to employee retention, the modern warehouse leader is always seeking new methods to give them an edge.
Luckily, logistics is one of the most innovative and evolving industries in the world. So, getting an idea of what is working and what isn't is usually fairly easy. In fact, all you really have to do is pay attention to what your successful competitors are doing.
No, you don't need to "keep up with the Jones's". But paying attention to certain trends can provide a decent blueprint to follow in an ever-changing industry. And with a little bit of luck and proper implementation, it can give you a more competitive edge.
But how do you know which trends to follow?
Today, we are going to look at 5 of the most popular warehouse management trends we recommend keeping your eyes on going into 2020...
The Implementation of AI
In the last few years, artificial intelligence has found a home in the logistics space in a big way. From robotic unloading to systems aggregating KPI data, AI is improving a plethora of warehouse management tasks.
Currently, adaptive technology and analytical intelligence systems are being engineered to enhance existing warehouse management software. In fact, many WMS solutions are being powered by advanced technology that has the capability of learning from mistakes, reviewing data, and even offering suggestions.
Another major hurdle that a large number of warehouses face is the need to implement quicker order entry and fulfillment solutions. However, being quick is not necessarily about expediting the order entry process. On the contrary, for many warehouse operators, the main problem is upgrading technology to expedite orders that have been changed by customers on the fly or at the last minute.
Whether it’s a change in the quantity ordered, the color or size of a product, or change of address for delivery, this is a growing warehouse management trend. The ability to quickly relay changes to different departments within the warehouse helps to reduce downtime, reordering and improves the customer experience all at the same time.
Improvements with Automation
Not all warehouses have the operational budgets for this next trend, but it is still growing and slowly becoming more practical.
Automated equipment such as self-driving cargo container unloaders, pallet jacks and forklifts are quickly becoming the next ‘must-have’ technical upgrades for warehouse operators. This holds especially true for those in high-volume fulfillment centers.
The inclusion of automatic driving equipment helps to reduce downtime due to breaks, sick calls, or other employee issues. This creates a more efficient warehouse environment as well as one with reduced safety concerns.
Improving WMS User Interface
Weeding through several pages of reports, toggling through different display screens and accessing multiple departments from inventory to payroll is taxing and not very efficient. Not to mention that it can often be downright overwhelming for a busier warehouse. To combat these daily hurdles, many proactive warehouse managers are upgrading their WMS solutions to feature custom dashboard configuration.
WMS user interface upgrades can extend to enhancing solutions that permit connectivity to the WMS via mobile devices and tablets. This type of flexibility further improves operational efficiency, allowing managers access to reports, tools, and other critical daily warehouse functions.
Additionally, the platform can permit warehouse supervisors to make changes to order entries as needed.
Superior Inventory Control Systems
A critical area that has baffled warehouse operators for years is inventory control, especially with processing returns.
In most systems, the order simply returns to the fulfillment center. Once there, it just sits in a "return to vendor" department until it’s ready to be entered back into inventory. The entire process is not very efficient and usually results in more hands touching the product and an increased payroll.
Overall, it can negatively impact accurate inventory numbers.
To resolve this issue, warehouses in 2019 are actively enhancing their inventory control systems. They are discovering ways to permit more flexibility in assigning different levels of inventory for returned merchandise. The system can also track the location of returned merchandise for improved visibility.
Partner with a 3PL
Modern full-service third-party logistics companies like Redwood Logistics have experience with advanced warehouse management trends and systems. We partner with leading software developers, giving us the flexibility to customize certain pieces of technology to better serve our individual clients.
If you’re thinking about integrating any of these popular trends in warehouse management into your daily operations, contact Redwood Logistics to learn more!