Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The title reads correctly, warehouses and distribution centers throughout the supply chain are ALWAYS evolving. From new, innovative technologies being implemented on the floor and in the administrative offices, to general housekeeping tasks being adopted to keep companies’ employees organized and productive, the warehouse workforce is consistently changing. To keep up with the demands of today’s consumers, the supply chain has been placed on high alert to keep up with incoming and outgoing parcels, around the world. Warehousing managers have been keen to adopting integrations such as drones to enhance the last-mile delivery procedures, diving deeper into how automation-as-a-service can benefit workflows, encouraging predictive analytics for accelerated order fulfillment performance, and so many more innovations. Automated warehouses are beginning to take an enhanced turn for the better.
The State of Automated Vehicles
Set out on the warehouse floor, many managers have placed Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) into their workforce to better complete tasks and strategies throughout any given day, especially busy holiday seasons. These devices typically contain special sensors that help to act as a pair of eyes, to navigate the surrounding areas, grabbing and moving packages with ease. This method intends on simplifying tasks for human employees, especially when it comes to handling weight/temperature-sensitive items that could potentially injure employees. At the same time, the usage of such sensors helps to encourage machines from avoiding collisions and ruinous damage to valuable equipment sources. If these devices are operating on a connected warehouse system, then coworkers will always stay in the know about how items are and how to quickly retrieve a back-up if one were required.
AGVs come in all shapes and sizes, but they are best suited for the line of warehousing work that includes the shipping out of large quantities of goods, as quickly as possible. AGVs can also come in the form of Automated Forklifts, as well. Commonly found in manufacturing markets, these vehicles work to automatically ascend and descend based on their directed location to grab and acquire items that are usually too out of reach for human employees, or perhaps they are too heavy to be lifted regularly.
Staying on the same page, but entering a different perspective, Automation-as-a-Service is gaining some popularity as well, because it provides facilities with the ability to rapidly scale up and down as demand dictates and allows buyers to expand their services with technologies such as robotics, without going through extensive purchasing processes. This growth of open-source technologies and cloud-based offerings means that employees are able to share data better than ever before on their warehouse information systems.
The future also predicts that drones will hold some significance in aiding last-mile delivery functions, or even just retrieving products throughout the warehouse in an efficient and timely manner. When it comes to programming these devices to be able to achieve goals and tasks, a helpful tool is to allow the flying resources to be able to relay RFID codes and tags from great distances, simplifying this procedure for everyone involved. This attempt could definitely assist inventory control efforts and perhaps even make tagging an obsolete function in the future. The best, top-performing drones for the job could potentially fly above warehouse locations and read RFID tags from tens of meters away, with impressive reading scales and up to a 19-centimeter margin of error. Unfortunately, due to current regulations, only a specific class of lightweight aerial drones are allowed for usage throughout the warehouse. With this being the case, some of the drones may not possess the capabilities needed to successfully and accurately read RFID tags from great distances, but there’s hope for the future of the federal warehouse allowances.
The warehouse mindset is changing in a variety of ways. As we go forward throughout the rest of the year, finishing out each quarter, it’s likely many more opportunities will emerge offering new technology selling points for resellers operating in the manufacturing, supply chain, and warehousing markets. It’s best to stay hyper-aware of all of the innovations rounding the corner to stay ahead of the game and informed in the best way possible.