As the adage goes, there are two sides to every coin and this sentiment holds true for fulfillment warehouses. They face a big challenge that stems from a huge opportunity—an explosive growth in e-commerce orders. Onlinesales were already forecasted pre-COVID to grow 12%+ annually in coming years. Now it’s expected to add nearly $100billion more than previous estimates, every year through 2023.Increased demand caught e-commerce fulfillment warehouseson their heels.
An estimated 80% of fulfillment warehouses haven’t automated any processes and rely on a scarce and unreliablelabor pool that’s been further limited by COVID- 19. Not onlydo e-commerce businesses need to digitize and optimize, butbrick-and-mortar retailers need to move all of their sales online.
Adding capacity to match demand isn’t simple. Higher
demand has a trickle-down effect on warehouse operations,
chief among them a need to restructure inventory to accom-
modate random access to a large number of SKUs. The nature
of e-commerce and direct-to-consumer sales makes it difficult,
if not impossible, to predict which products are going to be
ordered on a daily basis. This added complexity of e-commerce
fulfillment plus the avalanche of demand hitting warehouses
at the same time make intelligence and digitization a critical
first step in upgrading operations.
The two-sided coin comes into play here as well. The good
news is that there are endless technology solutions that can make
warehouses smarter and more efficient. The challenge is finding
the ones that make your warehouse smarter and more efficient.
In the early days, warehouse automation meant massive, fixed
systems that required millions of dollars in construction costs, as
well as months to years of closures to complete implementation.
Today, warehouse automation has come a long way. Systems are
flexible, adaptable and more effective than ever before. There are
traditional technologies that are adding new capabilities to their
legacy systems, like WMSs that are pervasive.
There are brand new technologies that deliver
never-before-seen features, like autonomous
mobile robots (AMRs).
From WMSs vs WESs (warehouse execution systems) to autonomous robots, pickingthe wrong solution for your business needs canbe just as costly as old legacy systems. Howdo you decide which ones are the right choicefor your needs and in what combination? Theanswer is to clearly define your needs.
This may sound obvious, but it’s easy toget carried away with product features andfunctionality. The innovation we’re seeing inwarehouse process optimization is exciting.But not every feature is going to make a difference in your particular business.
This article will focus on three steps youcan take to develop a clear set of needs thatwill serve as your North Star in the technologyselection process.
Is your goal to increase fulfillment speed?Is it to increase order accuracy? Is it both?Know what your future goal is, and then work
THE PARADOX OF TOO MANY CHOICESWAREHOUSE AUTOMATION
From a single cart to an entire fleet, Creform® carts provide the flexibilityto handle virtually any parts. Creform carts can be an integral part ofoptimizing your plant and warehouse operations. Our carts can provide thehigh levels of product protection, presentation efficiency and ergonomicease required in today’s industrial facilities. When used in combinationwith workstations, flow racks and AGVs, Creform carts answer the call foran integrated and systems approach to material handling.
Find the right warehouse optimizationsystem that will fit both your current andfuture needs.
By Lior Elazary