The rate at which the logistics industry is now evolving is considerable, and seems to be picking up steam all the time. Thanks to technological advances on a variety of different fronts, warehouses have more power than ever to meet their needs as demand for e-commerce and other types of shipping grows both in the U.S. and abroad. To that end, it's vital for any firm in the industry to make sure they have all the tools on hand to meet their current and future needs, and that means exploring a plethora of next-generation options on a regular basis.
One thing that many logistics companies may now grapple with is the fact that they're storing, handling and shipping items that are of irregular size and shape, according to Logistics Management. As a consequence, companies are now working on high-tech solutions that allow warehouses to find the best ways to store and send such items based on a number of factors, geometric and otherwise.
Why is this important?
Warehouses only have so much cubic footage in which they can store their various items, so maximizing every possible inch of space leads to far greater efficiency, the report said. Companies must also consider the weight of the items they store in addition to the size, and when using new "dimensioning" technology, data from a warehouse management system can be incorporated automatically.
"When you consider the vast array of products available, there truly is no 'one-size-fits-all' dimensioner on the market," Justin Headley, marketing manager at CubiScan, told the site. "That's why we actually offer 13 unique dimensioning solutions that can measure everything from a contact lens to an engine block."
Other issues to consider
Meanwhile, logistics firms that have started to integrate robotic or enhanced picking technology may have similar considerations to deal with, Logistics Management also noted. Companies have long used relatively simple robots to complete simple picking tasks, but as the size, shape, mass – and sheer variety – of items in a warehouse grows, so too does the need for robots that can solve more complex picking issues as efficiently as possible.
The good news is that industry experts say this process is getting easier, but at the same time companies have to continually evaluate their needs and whether their tech-related investments are paying the dividends they expected, the report said. The more information they can glean with the right kind of WMS, the better off they will be going forward.
Along similar lines, though, Logistics Management further notes that it's also vital for warehouses managers to make sure their employees know how to properly operate all new technology available, both initially and on an ongoing basis. The more that can be done to ensure smooth operations in this regard, the better off all involved will be. Interestingly, this concern seems to have prompted a trend of companies starting new operations in places where they already know there's a well-trained population of logistics workers.
With tech investment on the rise in the logistics field, any companies that struggle to adapt to the changing landscape may find themselves falling behind their better-equipped competitors.