Technology advancements have facilitated faster order fulfillment and warehousing tasks by consolidating mainstream workflows onto user-friendly platforms. However, with advancements came a deeper interconnectedness amongst the different parts of the supply chain. One change in the production line affects the checkout lane. This has been consistently noted with issues like the global pandemic, escalating import tariffs, and material shortages. To thrive in the dynamic supply chain, warehouses have begun adopting new inventory management initiatives dedicated to expanding communication channels and protecting end-to-end visibility.
It started with automation, but the applications are now limitless
The 2020 pandemic served as a catalyst in accelerating advancements to meet an outburst of new and old demands. Researchers now believe the following trends will become mainstream best practices in modernized warehousing within the coming years:
- Multi-warehousing – Last-mile costs paired demands for same-day shipping has led companies to consider relocating closer to urban areas, yet city-based warehouses have higher operational costs and may incur zoning issues. As a result, mass warehouses have split into smaller localized segments that are monitored by a main central location. Efficient multi-warehousing depends on real-time connectivity to ensure visibility across sites. This is where intelligent devices like enterprise tablets help expand visibility while providing a scalable mobility solution for newer sites. By breaking apart warehouses, operations can provide faster shipping at a smaller cost. Multi-warehousing also amplifies flexibility since you can keep operations running even if one site is affected by a sudden change.
- The return of Internet of Things (IoT) – Studies suggest COVID-19 was also responsible for a halt in IoT adoption as warehouses scrambled to meet current demands. Now, as businesses are readjusting to new demands such as transparent traceability and worker safety codes, IoT can provide the key connectivity between digital assets. When mobile devices are all connected on a shared platform, warehouses can manage stock levels in real time as well as inbound and outbound operations linked manufacturing plants and retailers.
- Push for sustainability – It’s estimated nearly a third of today’s young consumers (ages 18 to 30) prefer brands committed to sustainable, eco-friendly warehousing. RFID tracking technologies have been gained maximum traction to both reduce paper labels and closely monitor inventory movement. Automated data verification helps minimize the unnecessary use of paper systems while preventing stock from getting lost and exacerbating expenses.
- Inventory forecasting – Intelligent visibility between supply chain steps is only the start to guaranteeing smoother workflows. That’s why operators are now investing in forecasting systems that synthesize purchase patterns from collected data to create possible response plans in the event of disruptions. Zebra’s MotionWorks takes it step farther by ensuring simplistic ease-of-use so your workforce doesn’t have to rely on an IT team to transform collected data into actionable insight.
- Real-time communication across the supply chain – Last, but certainly not least, unbreakable communication systems between manufacturers, field teams, warehouses, retailers, and even end-customers has become a centerpiece of effective modernization. This allows businesses to quickly alert team-members of changes and updates from anywhere in the supply chain, minimizing lost time and expenses.
As new trends continue to emerge, Avalon remains committed to simplifying modernization through effective innovation. Discover new approaches to refining your competitive edge when you reach out to Avalon to learn more.