What Warehouse Management System in a Post-Pandemic World Looks Like
Mar 14, 2023
Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed so much of the world, including more people choosing to work in remote or hybrid positions. It has also impacted warehousing and distribution operations and how warehouse management, including inventory, is conducted. The unpredictability of the last few years has reminded us about the importance of being flexible and accepting the need for change.
These unprecedented times have changed so much of our personal and professional lives. At the start of the Pandemic, lockdowns shut down a lot of the world, including stores, offices, schools, and restaurants. Similarly, lockdowns also slowed the delivery of raw materials and finished products, thus disrupting manufacturing. Some projects were on hold because they were waiting for parts to be shipped. Today, there is a greater need for undisrupted communication since more workers are in different areas throughout a facility. With fewer people leaving home and more people shopping online, customers expected quick delivery. This expectation still exists today and is likely to stick around.
Unlike other struggling sectors, America’s warehouses employ about 1.8 million workers, which is up 37 percent from January 2020 and up 183% from January 2010. The boom in online shopping has led to a need for an increase in employees at fulfillment and distribution centers. Modernizing warehouses will provide workers with the automated software, hardware, and services they need to succeed.
More digital solutions and automation are needed in warehouses to maintain strong communication. Cutting-edge technology including RFID, allows warehouses to take real-time inventory, which is vital in today’s post-pandemic society. Let’s look at some specific ways the Pandemic has made an impact:
- Just in Time (JIT) transitioning to Just In Case (JIC)-Before Covid-19 hit, the majority of manufacturers received goods just in time (JIT), which calls for lean operations. It has a reactive philosophy because current conditions dictate purchasing decisions. On the contrary, JIC proactively prepares companies for expected orders by maintaining a healthy stockpile of goods. With this model, companies decrease the risk of losing sales due to a lack of inventory. JIC allows manufacturers the chance to prepare for demand increases.
- An increased need for real-time inventory tracking-Post-pandemic, technology is a large part of warehouse and distribution management. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) products, such as sensors, tags, readers, and scanners use electromagnetic fields to identify and tag items that are loaded with electronically stored data. RFID technology allows for real-time inventory tracking, which increases accuracy and efficiency. Modern devices help save time for employees, so they have more time in their day to dedicate to other important tasks.
- A need for an updated Warehouse Management System-A Warehouse Management System (WMS) is a software application, which can be cloud-based, that assists in important day-to-day operations. The system helps to track inventory, coordinate reverse logistics, track equipment, and vehicles, and direct picking packing, and shipping activities. Due to the need for faster fulfillment, having updated warehouse management software and hardware is critical for real-time inventory visibility.
- E-Commerce Boom-Omni-channel distribution has increased over the past few years. More customers are purchasing products from both in-store and online sources, and products need to be delivered in a timely fashion. Today’s shoppers pick products up in-store and curbside and have them shipped to their homes. Warehouse and distribution centers require the latest software and technologies to make this omnichannel distribution successful. According to McKinsey’s recent omnichannel report, more than one-third of Americans shop in this fashion, and two-thirds of those individuals plan to continue to do so.
- Robust Automating Warehouse Management-The past few years have caused a shift towards automation and digitization to make warehouse operations, such as inventory tracking, more efficient and accurate. A robust warehouse management system is crucial to meet today’s omnichannel shoppers' soaring demands. Some examples of technology are voice-enabled order picking, real-time displays, and RFID technology.
- Increased Warehouse Capacity-To successfully meet the needs of customers, more manufacturers will decentralize their warehouse locations. These smaller, decentralized warehouse locations will help to shrink the risk of supply chain disruptions and decrease transportation costs.
Since warehouse modernization is such a key factor for a manufacturing or distribution center to be successful, let’s explore some products that can make operations run more efficiently.
- Autonomous Mobile Robots and Automated Guided Vehicles-AMR can read the environment and plan their route. It is also able to avoid obstacles that may get in its way. An AGV is pre-programmed with fixed routes. Both devices transport goods throughout the facility. With the need for social distancing to keep workers safe and fewer workers, robotics play a big role in modern warehouses. They also free up time for workers to dedicate to other projects.
- Wearables-The goal of wearables is to increase efficiency and decrease costs. These devices include smart glasses, finger-trigger gloves, and GPS trackers. They are integrated with the WMS and give companies the real-time inventory information they need to make wise decisions.
- Voice Systems-Voice systems are connected to database systems, such as a WMS. The system uses AI and incoming data to give commands to employees through a headset. Voi00ce-picking involves workers wearing a headset and receiving instructions for various tasks. The benefits of voice systems include boosting the speed and accuracy of orders, increased inventory accuracy, reduced picking errors, shortened training time, and a safer warehouse.
A recent survey revealed that senior business decision-makers anticipate that supply chain issues are not going anywhere. More than half (52%) of those surveyed believe their supply chain still needs to improve. There is a growing need for supply chains that are more agile and resilient. Becoming more digital will help companies increase agility. A dynamic work environment would benefit from technologies such as the AMRs because they are equipped to handle more complex environments.
Today’s workplace environment is one that we’ve never seen before, with increased remote and hybrid workers and more data circulating in the cloud. The need for strong systems in place to ensure efficient communication between workers at various locations is a critical part of today’s warehouse operations today and in the future.
Companies, like Heartland, provide mobile device management solutions to ensure workers are connected. Experts can help companies gain control of their warehouse operations, modernize them, and prepare them for what the future holds for the manufacturing and distribution industry.
What are some benefits of having modernized warehouse management?
- Reduce warehouse costs
- Improve accuracy and productivity
- Improve service to ensure customer satisfaction
- Gain inventory transparency and efficiency
- Enhance flexibility and scalability
- Improve compliance and reduce risk
Cutting-edge products and top-notch services can assist you with modernizing your warehouse and optimizing your operations. These services simplify workflows and provide superior solutions. Keeping up with today’s ever-changing needs is a process, but implementing modern tools will get you closer to reaching your goals.
Discover the latest products and services in supply chain technology by Heartland. Modernizing your warehouse will increase productivity and improve customer service.