As the supply chain evolves, warehouse management undergoes many changes. Most of these happen on a minor level, but can have a great impact on the efficiency needed to better compete in whatever industry a company sells its products in. Just as well, the shifts in the economy can provide a boon for one industry while causing others to scramble, whether its retail or manufacturing. Companies can stay productive and profitable with the right technology, such as deploying Microsoft Dynamics NAV Warehouse Barcoding.
Still, it’s helpful for businesses to consider what changes in warehousing and distribution will affect them in the coming months. Here are some trends to look out for:
Additive manufacturing reduces inventories
The concept of 3-D printing has been in place for decades. However, it’s always served as a supplementary source of production. Recent advances in additive manufacturing look to change that, such as making it possible to print using metal alloys and other hard materials and higher resolutions of printing. With the possibility of parts being produced through printouts, companies can turn some of their some of their operations make-to-order, helping to reduce warehouse inventories and increase space for critical products, as noted by Reoptimizer.
Product recalls demand accurate databases
There is a surge of product recalls under way throughout various industries in the U.S. and Europe. As Industrial Distribution noted, such events mean that warehouses often play a role in fixing the problems associated with a broken or tainted item. As a consequence, there are a greater number of protocols to be put in place to ensure inventory databases are accurate. Barcoding becomes an essential feature of this process. That way, in the event of a recall, a company can quickly identify the problem goods, locate them and either repair or dispose of them in the proper manner.
Mobility is the way to manage warehouses
One of the larger trends affecting all industries is the dominance and ubiquity of mobile devices. Warehouse management is no exception. Smartphones can serve as barcode scanners on their own, which offers an array of opportunities to maximize efficiency overall, especially when they have apps connected to enterprise resource planning platforms such as Dynamics NAV. Consider the potential for this field: For inbound processing, mobile devices can scan a product, schedule its shipment and perform other tasks, all in real time. That can make for more efficient operations, especially since most people have smartphones now.
The warehouse also houses data
Inventory isn’t the only thing distribution centers house. Data now comes out of every aspect of business, and warehouses provide dozens of information streams. This often takes the form of product location and details. With mobile devices capable of scanning and inputting a report, it’s possible to better track items in the warehouse. This information must be harnessed as customers demand where their orders are and leaner inventories become more necessary to maintain a profitable bottom line. It will also create a greater emphasis on connectivity in the warehouse to make sure information is constantly on the move.
Labor challenges afoot
The warehouse is now a very sophisticated place to work. Moreover, unemployment is at its lowest since before the Great Recession. This will make it harder to increase overall productivity, even with improvements in workplace automation. It’s becoming more important to hire the right types of employees that, more than being skilled, are also tech-savvy enough to work with the software companies use to track products on a regular basis. In addition, businesses must invest in their employees by training them on different technology, especially as solutions become customized and more specific to each place.
Businesses looking to learn how NAV Warehouse Barcoding can improve their warehouse management should download the “Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync” white paper today.