Warehouses in GCC and the rest of the world are recovering from the pandemic-related slump and supply chain crisis. GCC's warehousing and distribution logistics market will witness a CAGR of above 5% from now until 2027. But the industry will need to shift its focus to automation and become part of a connected digital ecosystem. The biggest end-consumers of warehouse automation equipment in the middle east region will be eCommerce, Fashion and Beauty, and grocery. Adopting automation digitizes operations and improves efficiency and profitability in a big way.
Here are four top warehouse automation trends in 2023.
1. Preference to proven automation technologies
The shortage of labour force during the pandemic has given the realization that there will be a greater return on investing in automation compared to human resources. Outsourcing to companies who specialize in these products is another economical alternative to investing in the purchase of automation solutions.
Some proven automation techniques for warehouse operations include:
Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS)-These systems co-opt robots, automated guided vehicles, conveyor systems, and cranes to streamline storage, picking, packing, and other tasks.
Warehouse drones and IoT sensors - To track the performance of critical assets and ensure safety. IoT sensors monitor temperature, humidity, and other parameters to protect sensitive products and improve warehouse safety.
Barcode scanning and RFID - These technologies enable automated tracking and inventory management, reducing manual work.
Cobots work alongside human workers and assist in assembly, packaging, and palletizing.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that automate cart movements to transport picked orders or returns. Workers can park carts in pickup locations and retrieve them by calling robots instead of walking.
Robotic palletizing and depalletizing processes limit heavy lifting by humans and take place faster, improving workplace safety. Automation can also reduce picking errors and better order fulfillment in lesser time.
Digital twins represent physical environments virtually to simulate and analyze its performance in real-time. The digital twin can help choose the proper layout and optimize the inventory and replenishment strategy.
Automated vertical warehouse solutions save space, has shorter picking time, and also has a high degree of efficiency. There is also less room for administrative errors due to location confusion.
4. Use of Artificial Intelligence solutions
Determine demand and make reliable forecasts for rightsizing inventory.
Make real-time decisions about optimizing storage and picking items in anticipation of near-term demand.
Inspect and identify packaging and labelling defects and detect other quality control issues.
Monitor warehouse operations for safety hazards, such as spills or other hazards, and alert the workforce to such risks. AI-powered systems also secure the warehouse against security threats such as theft.
Make predictions on when equipment will likely fail or need routine maintenance. Proactive interventions reduce downtime and prolong equipment life.
2. Customized forms of automation
The preference for proven products does not mean warehouses are reluctant to change. Warehouses are evaluating and adopting newer automation techniques with increased urgency.
There is an increasing preference for enterprises to design customized automation solutions rather than pick off-the-shelf solutions.
Customized automation has a direct impact on the existing operation of the warehousing business.
3. Efficient Utilization of Space and Time through Automation
There is also a focus on warehouse space optimization in inventory management. Efficient warehouse space utilization would also mean the complete utilization of storage units and dedicated units for picking and storage bins.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) disrupt many industries, and warehousing operations are not exempt. Warehouse operators use AI and ML-powered analytical tools to analyze data and:
The ever increasing demand for faster deliveries pose stiff competition for warehouses. Small to mid-size businesses are also shifting from the conservative approach to using space and technology best. But they often face challenges integrating automation technologies into existing warehouse management and control system. Many companies are opting for warehouse management as a service so they can focus on their core business. Success depends on deploying a team of tech experts and business managers adept at handling change.