The first-ever ‘warehouse’ was a structure built a little above ground to store grains, safely and away from predators. These were called granaries and looked like your typical huts in the fields till they were moved to bigger facilities.
The need was simple: storage. It was not focused on consumer trends and technological advancements until this need was satisfied. However, like most things, granaries grew from being storage units to being warehouses, a crucial part of supply chain management today. As these structures became the focal points for trade and commerce, industries began setting up warehouses in various locations that were convenient for the transportation of goods.
Today, while the ‘warehouse’ stays the same, the internal structure and work are dynamic; driven by trends and technological advancements. Before we discuss the changing requirements of warehouses in Asia, it’s important to understand what is driving this change.
As competition rises and industries expand (specifically in terms of fluidity), the requirements also change rapidly. For instance, manual warehouses, whose systems are not accessed by automation solutions, often realise the need to turn towards it to acquire more customers and scale their business.
So, what will the warehouses of the future need? Or, what are the current warehouses beginning to need?
- On-demand Warehousing and High Productivity
One of the major changes that warehouses in Asia are going through is in terms of demand. Each industry has a different demand pattern, with highs and lows. To manage varying demands and avoid a significant rise in prices during peak season, warehouses need to operate with high productivity. One example of how automation helps cater to on-demand needs is automated capacity planning, where warehouses can leverage data to control and move inventory better.
- Quick Deployment of Technology
A shift that warehouses are noticing is in the way technology is deployed and automation is implemented. As technology advances and choices of industrial automation increase, warehouses are experimenting. To scale up and down as demand arises, we need automation solutions that do not have a steep learning curve and are easy to deploy.
For instance, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) need magnetic strips or QR codes attached throughout the shop floor to navigate and execute tasks around the warehouse. While AGVs enable workers to take up highly skilled tasks, they require major changes and additions during deployment.
- Visibility – Sought After but Unachieved So Far
To manage operations effectively, supply chain managers need real-time data and have witnessed companies struggle to describe their complex operations. However, with real-time visibility technologies, managers and warehouses can share data, thus achieving supply chain visibility with vendors, providers, and partners.
- Warehouse Automation, but More
Except for those that necessitate a major overhaul, there appears to be no let-up in investments in automation. Today, warehouses are embracing robots that are flexible and adaptable (and will continue to do so) as they enable workers to take up skilled tasks like robot management while the robots bring consistency in processes, maintain high-efficiency levels and eliminate the chances of human error. For instance, Botsync’s MAG is a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that transport heavy goods and materials across warehouse and manufacturing floors through moving pallets, shelves, and trolleys. They do not require an upheaval as their natural navigation and vision technology helps them navigate with great flexibility .
Before solutions like MAG AMRs, warehouses needed to build and maintain magnetic strips and QR codes throughout their floors for robots to navigate. Apart from the inflexibility, this solution didn’t cater to cramped warehouses or even those that often change locations or expand.
- Automated Tagging
Tagging inventory is tedious, and that’s why drones might have an important role in the warehouses of the future. Research shows that drones can read tags on inventory from an impressive distance. However, they’re not flying in many warehouses because of safety concerns. Aerial drones were explored as a solution, but their ability to accurately read was doubted. However, future warehouses will have drones that might even make tagging obsolete.
Warehouses of the future will look for easy-to-adopt technologies and flexible automation. As automation solutions providers, our job is to not just identify trends, but also offer solutions that enable future warehouses. And, MAG AMR is a step toward that movement. To take your warehouses to the next level with industrial automation, get in touch with us here.