Establishing innovative warehousing processes to improve fulfillment

Factory workers bottling plant production

October 14, 2020

Evolving business models and e-commerce have accelerated in ways most companies haven’t anticipated and are now looking to implement processes to keep up with consumer needs.

With this acceleration in mind, supply chains must quickly adjust to new fulfillment models to customer demands. This means reevaluating all fulfillment capabilities, labor requirements, equipment needs, and more.

As e-commerce orders continue to expand, organizations must be able to streamline direct-to-consumer capabilities as larger percentages of outbound shipments become “eaches” instead of pallets. Furthermore, as more manufacturers adopt a direct-to-consumer model, the need for more warehousing space will be needed to operate efficiently and productively.

With innovation in manufacturing technology accelerating at incredible speeds, it’s likely some aspects of manufacturing will occur within the warehouse. As 3D printing capabilities continue to advance, the ability to conduct light manufacturing and minor assembly within the four walls of the warehouse will eventually allow organizations to reduce on-hand inventory.

Automation opportunities continue to emerge

A recent article featured in Forbes highlighted survey-based research on practice, priority, and expectation trends of warehouse executives. Respondents chose WMS as their highest priority for technology investment with 96 percent of survey participants noting that the warehouse automation value proposition was expected to increase over the next 3 years. Survey findings indicated that operational changes like labor costs, labor shortages, and increased throughput requirements were all primary factors for companies looking to automation.

When questioned about what technologies practitioners are likely to adopt, over 60 percent of respondents expected to invest in conveyors and sortation over the next 3 years. While many emerging technologies are not widely installed, respondents indicated that adoption has the potential to grow at a rapid pace.

As more and more companies look to permanently adopt new fulfillment models such as direct ship, pick-up in store, and curbside pick-up, new inventory management strategies will be required. As a result, the need for integration between automation and warehouse management tools will be more prevalent than ever before. Organizations looking to move forward down this path will need to understand the best practices for integrating a WMS with materials handling equipment and automation systems.

To learn more about how you can drive operational excellence in the warehouse, checkout the complete best practices guide.

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