In our most recent blog, we told you all about how robots and drones are poised to take over your warehouse in the coming years, if they haven’t already. But those rolling and flying devices are far from the only technological advances that will be changing the way that warehouses work as we head toward the 2020s. Here are some of the new ways that you’ll be interacting with pallet racks in the near future…if you’re not already doing it.
Code Readers Are Getting Smaller
The use of barcodes has been a staple of warehouses for years, identifying not only the pallet racks themselves but also the inventory that’s on them. For years, the standard barcode readers have been big, bulky devices that had to be synced up with the warehouse management system (WMS) on a daily or nightly basis in order to stay up to date. Not only were these devices very expensive, but they were also a pain to carry around all the time.
Barcode reading devices are getting smaller, and today they’re often off-the-shelf units like cell phones or tablets. The connection of these devices directly to the WMS, via wi-fi or cellular, has also allowed them to be up-to-the-minute instead of being just up-to-date. Plus, since these devices are smaller and easier to carry, those who work in warehouses don’t mind carrying them around all day. Wearable tech will also become more common so that workers will always have a scanning device on their person.
NFC and RFID Are Cheaper Than Ever.
Barcodes aren’t the only ways that devices are letting warehouse workers know where inventory is. There are also sensors such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) and NFC (near-field communication) that allow warehouse workers an easy way of finding where particular items are, even if they might be in the wrong place. These types of technology are getting better and cheaper year after year, which means that the technology is finding its way into more and more warehouses.
Planning For Inventory Is Getting Easier
Warehouse layout optimization isn’t the only type of planning that can make your life easier. While getting your warehouse properly designed is a great first step to maximum efficiency, your WMS can make sure the inventory on your pallet racks is there when you need it.
WMS are getting better and better, and the legacy systems are going away. Warehouse are starting to realize that their old software just isn’t giving them the competitive advantage they need in order to compete with other companies. Many non-cloud-based WMS are reaching the end of their functional life, and the manufacturers might not even be supporting it anymore. For many warehouses, it’s time to switch to the proven reliability of cloud-based WMS. Learning these systems now can prepare warehouses to integrate drones and robots when the time comes.
The good thing is, WMS of today isn’t just limited to larger companies. Thanks to cloud software options, even small companies can take advantage of big data and predictive analytics. The software being used in warehouses today can restock items without being told to, ensuring that there is inventory to sell when an order comes in. Not only that, but it can also tell you the most efficient pallet rack to put them on when the new order arrives!
Workers Are Getting More Comfortable with Tech
When the first warehouse software was employed, it wasn’t an easy task getting warehouse managers to switch over. Just 30 years ago, many of them had never touched a computer and actively fought to keep the pencil and paper method going. Now many of those warehouse managers are retiring, and while they might have eventually come to accept the new ways, many of them were never entirely comfortable with them.
Today’s warehouse managers grew up with technology, as have many of those who work on the floor every day. Not only is it easier for them to set up the WMS and everything that goes with it, but nearly everyone is familiar with touchscreen wi-fi devices. Even older warehouse workers who might have balked at figuring out the menu system on an old barcode-reading gun are very comfortable with the ease of handheld tablets.
The days of the traditional 26-foot warehouse ceilings are waning, and 40-foot ceilings are becoming more popular. Why? Automated picking systems — including the drones we’ve mentioned — are able to get to items that are out of reach of traditional picking and packing systems. Lighting systems and fire suppression systems are also getting more efficient, meaning that they are able to cover areas even though they are higher above the ground. And speaking of lighting…
Green Warehouses Are In
No matter whether you’re doing it to save money or to ensure the next generation has a liveable planet to call home, green warehouses are all the rage. Lighting is getting more efficient, warehouse conveyor systems can be programmed with better sleep modes, and site selection can all help to create a greener work environment for your employees and save you money to boot. Read more about green warehouse and how they can benefit you right here.
Ready To Head Into the Future?
DAK Equipment and Engineering is ready to help you outfit your warehouse for the future. Not only can we provide the industrial pallet racks and warehouse conveyor systems, but we can also design them so that they’re as efficient as possible. Contact us today to get the process started!