The world around us is being quickly transformed by technology, with effects on everything from how we interact to how we run our businesses. Technology is also changing the way that warehouses operate, facilitating smaller, more flexible operations and enabling warehouses to provide quick delivery and error-free orders—qualities that are crucial to the success of a fulfillment operation. That’s why pick and pack services have been a crucial component of many warehouse operations for many years. But the unceasing march of technological advancement has affected every business; how will tech change pick and pack in the future?
While there are numerous advancements we’re keeping an eye on in this field, we think there are some, in particular, that will have a favorable influence on warehouse operations in the years to come. In this article, we explore each of these themes in depth. Additionally, we’ll look at why there is a demand for technology in the area of pick and pack fulfillment.
What is Driving the Demand for Technology in Warehouses?
Consumer demands for ever-shorter delivery times and an insatiable desire for more products are complicating workforce shortages in the pick and pack fulfillment sector. Due to the strain these variables are placing on the fulfillment process’ distribution component, 3PL firms like Alpacka are turning to technology to speed up pick and pack operations in order to meet consumers’ demand for speed, agility, and quality.
Additionally, the labor shortage and increased turnover rates force businesses to re-examine their strategic workforce planning, with a keen interest in technologies like robotics and connected Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
Here are some key developments in technology that will positively impact warehouse operations:
In today’s warehouse, human workers are assisted by warehouse robots, which improve the accuracy and efficiency of tasks like picking. Robots also ease the physical burden placed on human workers, boosting morale and maintaining employee motivation. They assist in lowering the cost of overtime by enabling quicker order fulfillment.
For instance, Locus Robotics and Fetch Robotics both offer autonomous mobile robots that enable the picker to load bins on the robot with the inventory. Once the bins are full, the robot moves to the packing station, where another robot arrives to replace it, situating itself beside the picker.
Robotic solutions provide many opportunities to take over the more routine, repetitive jobs, freeing the employee to concentrate on more challenging duties with a greater number of variables.
- Augmented Reality
Thanks to augmented reality, managers and employees can simply don glasses to inspect the warehouse layout and see if any adjustments are possible.
This is an excellent tool for compiling in-depth information and making decisions about any inventory changes or improvements. It allows logistics firms to plan and replan warehouses with less time, money, and effort. The software that powers such a device analyzes the object in the line of sight and displays the relative content of the object.
Without pausing or glancing away from their work, your warehouse workers can immediately see what to pick next, follow arrows pointing them in the proper direction, and compare their product selection to images to be sure they’ve gotten the right one.
To become certified for new duties, your employees may also access quick training videos. For the safety and health of warehouse workers, they can also receive notifications about their health and posture, as well as compare their productivity to that of their peers.
- Sensors and Scanners
IoT, sensors, and barcode scanners are just a few examples of the technology that allow warehouses to digitize activities that were traditionally labor-intensive, error-prone, and manual.
One good example is inventory management. Prior to the development of technology that allowed inventory counts to be streamlined or automated, warehouse staff manually counted each item and recorded SKUs and the number of goods on hand. This procedure is laborious, drawn out, and prone to human mistakes.
Although a lot of warehouses still perform human inventory counts on occasion as an auditing process, computerized data gathering improves the effectiveness of the inventory management process. RFID tags, for instance, automatically transmit data, improving real-time visibility into inventory levels. Another choice is to use barcode labels and scanners, which enable employees to record inventory data with a quick barcode scan rather than relying on labor-intensive
- 3D Printing
Despite the media attention this innovative technology has received, the majority of manufacturers still view 3D printing as having mainly niche uses in limited custom quantities and prototyping. The truth is, this technology has the potential to completely change the pick and pack fulfillment paradigm as we know it.
Think about the well-known shoe brands Nike, Adidas, and New Balance. All three companies released 3D printed shoe prototypes in 2016 that were designed to perfectly fit any buyer who would later order a pair. In other words, the warehouse would no longer need to house endless aisles of shoes. All you’ll need is a few rows of 3D printers and raw materials!
Combining Pick and Pack Services with Fulfillment Solutions
Traditional warehouse operational methods are being impacted by innovations more and more, therefore operators must keep up with these developments to preserve a competitive edge. Even while picking and packing will always be essential, the way in which fulfillment companies carry them out will change significantly in the years to come.
Here at Alpacka, we’re committed to using state-of-the-art technology and processes to be a trusted pick and pack services provider that meets all your fulfillment needs. Check out our order fulfillment services to learn more!