Logistics: Top 5 Warehousing Trends in 2021

March 3, 2021 Rafał Jasiński

 

In 2020, online sales on Black Friday hit $9.03 billion – a 21% year-over-year increase from 2019. For context, just 3 years earlier, the entire Black Friday sales was worth roughly $12.8 billionthe revenue generated from eCommerce reached only $1.3 billion. 

This growth is part of a galloping trend. A trend so strong that multiple companies have been caught off guard by its speed – said Ian Hobkirk, founder and managing director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors. As a result of this rising digitalization – lately strongly fueled by the pandemic restrictions – the need to transform warehouses into smart logistic centres is growing accordingly. And funnily enough, although some warehouses have already embraced the miracles of modern technology, many others still use… paper counts.  

So, if you’re managing your own warehouse and would like to be equipped with the most useful tools (or are simply interested in the latest developments in logistics), in this article you’ll find a summary of the Top 5 warehouse trends in 2021. 

 

Autonomous Machines (or Autobots In Short)  

 

AGVs – short for Automatic Guided Vehicles – are the latest hit at smart warehouses. With a wide range of autonomous machines available – from stackers forklifts, or pallet trucks to smaller item-carrying robots like the WObit AGV – robots are transforming the way warehouses operate.            

Integrating AGVs in the warehouse and supply chain offers many options. There are at least 4 categories of autonomous machines available. From compact AGVs, that are the warehouse resembles of oversized Roombas, through standard-sized vehicle like the mentioned forklifts, to custom and hybrid solutions that deal with unusual tasks (and are often unusually shaped themselves), autonomous machines can perform various tasks, like, for example, moving wood pallets, or automatically delivering small packages.     

 

Together with WObit and Proglove, we developed a unique Industry 4.0 warehouse solution that can follow warehouse employees around the premise and eliminate potential shipping mistakes. Read till the end to learn more!  

 

At this point, we have some good and bad news.  

The good news is that autonomous machines won’t replace people anytime soon. That’s not their goal anyway; the idea behind autobots is to raise efficiency and do the repetitive tasks. People are still key to overseeing the operation and performing more delicate activities. 

On the other hand, the bad news is, that AGVs are not working well in environments that were designed for human-operated machines. For example, some warehouses would need to be overhauled to host automated forklifts, since these require specific routes to function correctly. 

 

Blockchain 

 

Although blockchain still seems to be in its infancy, especially in the word of warehouse operations, the promises it holds for the industry have the potential to change everything from inventory management to transportation tracking and logistics.  

Funnily enough, the technology wasn’t initially designed to support warehouses. However, blockchain turned out to be very useful to improve and optimize inventory management; with its help, warehouses, manufacturers, suppliers, productions sites, distribution centres, and retail partners can connect to each other through a permanent record of every transaction that takes place. All the records are also stored and can be accessed by every entity within the network.  

As Prologis states, blockchain enables warehouses to manage their inventory through accurate forecasts of demand, and thereby have the right type and quantity of stock available. As a result, companies can optimize revenue and profitability, while also reducing the risk of lost sales.   

 

Big Data 

 

Big data revolutionized many industries, and logistics is no exception. According to DHL, big data will lead to “previously unimaginable level of optimization in manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and last-mile delivery”. 

As datapine puts it, the complex and dynamic nature of logistics makes it a perfect environment for big data use. Big data in logistics can empower routing optimization, streamline factory functions, and add transparency to the entire supply chain – obviously, including warehouses.  

Practically, big data can, for instance, impact the previously mentioned AGVs; routing many different data sets and data streams, it allows the autobots to functionFor example, big data-enabled Amazon to offer automated drone delivery for everybody who lives 30 minutes away from one of their warehouses.   

 

Cloud  

 

Cloud solutions are another hot topic that gained substantial attention in the last decade. Logistics is no exception and can benefit from this technology.  

With the Cloud, all communication is possible in real-timeAs a result, warehouses can be in touch with other entities from the supply chain, creating a highly collaborative community of users, which enables them to solve issues quickly and with minimum resources. 

Moreover, the Cloud also supports better resource management. Thanks to the Cloud, it’s possible to track parcels and packages, or – which is very important from the perspective of warehouses – identify bottlenecks. 

 

Wearables 

 

Autonomous vehicles are not the only sci-fi-like technological marvel on this list. Our final trend are wearables  compact and lightweight computers (and/or scanners) that warehouse employees can wear directly on their body. In 2021, many different devices are available on the market – from wrist and ring scanners, voice-directed headsets, to smart glasses.  

One of such devices is the wearable scanner from Proglove, which is the lightest, smallest, and toughest wireless barcode scanner in the world. Thanks to such a wearable, employees will never have to carry manual scanners anymore. With this scanner, employees are connected to actionable information hands-free for smarter workflows, saving costs and improving overall safety.  

 

 

Develop Your Own Smart Warehouse Solution – Quickly and Efficiently  

 

In the AGV section, we’ve mentioned that together with our partners from WObit and Proglove, we’ve developed our own unique warehouse-dedicated solution. Now, you can too.  

Thanks to combining capable hardware and software, we were able to craft a custom prototype of a smart AGV – that has the potential of transforming the work of warehouse employees – in… just 6 weeks! This was possible thanks to 3 innovative solutions: 

  • the “Follow Me” system for AGVs, 
  • wearable and wireless barcode scanners, 
  • a real-time data monitoring application.

And what does our solution do, exactlyJoin our free webinar to see for yourself!

But we won’t be that cruel to leave you with no information at all. Take a look at this short sneak peek to learn more:

 

 


Warehouses – Smart 
Logistic Centers of the Future  

As you can see, modern technology is transforming the way warehouses look and operate. Similarly to banks, where the image of well-dressed people sitting behind desks is fading away thanks to the increasing digitization, warehouses are becoming centres of smart, intuitive solutions that make the work of their employees pleasant. And all this with a boost of effectivity.  

 

Get Access to On Demand Webinar 

Do you have any questions? Watch our on demand webinar or message us for more information! 

 

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Sources:

https://spendmenot.com/blog/black-friday-sales-statistics/

https://www.prologis.com/about/resources/blockchain-in-warehouse-operations

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