What will warehouse logistics systems be like in 10 years’ time?

As technology evolves, it’s safe to predict that the logistics systems of the future will be different than those today. In the following sections, we’ll explore some potential changes warehouses could see in the future.

Will staff still be needed?

Online shopping has seen a huge increase in the last year or two. This expansion started before the coronavirus pandemic but accelerated during lockdown. Post-Covid, online shopping is predicted to continue to grow. Automation has helped cope with the pressure to process more online orders, but humans have not been replaced.

Amazon is the leading developer of warehouse robots, but the company has not announced plans to get rid of its human workers. Automated systems and robots work alongside humans at Amazon fulfilment centres, and its workforce has expanded.

A warehouse that has robots and no human workers will probably not be the norm in 10 years’ time, but automation will definitely play a key role in the warehouses of the future.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes systems with sensors connected to a network that communicate and coordinate activities. IoT systems can perform a variety of tasks in the warehouse.

Every item stored in the warehouse can be identified and tracked. Pickers can be guided to exact locations and picking routes planned. There is no need to stocktake, as the IoT system knows how many of each order item is stored. Stock level information is connected to sales data, so that low-stock items are automatically re-ordered and the risk of running out of items is minimised. Damaged goods can be identified and prevented from being added to orders.

IoT systems are not confined to the warehouse – they can be connected to weather stations to know if deliveries are likely to be delayed due to bad weather.

Drones

Amazon is experimenting with the use of drones that deliver orders to customers. However, there are safety and airspace issues before drones can be used in the UK – no one wants a member of the household injured by a drone landing at the front door.

Drones have been developed that read radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags from a distance, which could help inventory control in future warehouses.

Driverless vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality thanks to companies like Tesla and Uber. Whilst the focus is on cars, driverless trucks are being developed to deliver orders from the warehouse.

Before we enter the driverless age, drivers in delivery trucks and vans will be assisted by technology. For example, collision avoidance systems can allow lorries to travel in close proximity to each other in convoys, reducing wind drag and improving fuel consumption.

The future of Steely Products

Steely Products was founded in 1970 and expects to still be making picking trolleys and other warehouse equipment for many years to come. At Steely, we’ll continue to develop and refine the design of warehouse handling and storage equipment that works alongside technology to make future warehouses more efficient.

For more information on our wide range of equipment, call us or use the form below.

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    Posted by Derek
    4th June 2021
    Retail & Warehousing

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