Technology and logistics are moving at a phenomenal pace, yet the warehouse work culture is still stuck in the past. Compared to the modern day office and spotlight on well-being, the warehouse is archaically depressing. Granted, it’s an industrial hub and not exactly a creative ad agency, but that doesn’t mean a welcoming and stimulating environment should be curbed. The warehouse team are responsible for shifting items from A to B on behalf of global brands so it’s important they are looked after just as much as the office-based departments at logistical giants and online retailers. That next day delivery the customer has been promised is partly in the hands of the warehouse employee scanning, swiping and screen tapping for hours on end.
Forklifts are a key part of warehouse efficiency and the supply chain as a whole.
Historically thought of as a ‘dumb’ piece of equipment in that they were totally reliant on the operator, forklifts have recently come to symbolise the digital transformation within warehouse operations.
The rise of ‘intelligent forklifts’ has completely revolutionised workflows: reducing material handling costs, improving fulfilment rates and streamlining stock management and tracking processes – all while driving better safety standards.
The modern nature of warehouses and the need for fast, slick processes to meet shorter turnaround means that the idea of a manager just sitting in their corner office, only answering questions when workers come to the door, is a long way from reality.Managers now must be able to communicate with warehouse operatives one to one, at any time, as well as with multiple workers – in multiple parts of the warehouse – at once.
When it comes to supply chain management, an efficient warehouse is essential for the smooth-running operation of a business. This is not just in the sense of ensuring products are stocked and logged, but that they are easy to locate within a warehouse, and can be dispatched as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Dealing with returns has become an essential customer service function in recent years.
The rise of online shopping in particular has led to an increase in the number of customers buying items over the internet – especially during sales – without being totally sure about the purchase with the expectation they can return them once they’ve arrived.
Has any industry undergone such rapid change in a short period as warehousing? From being seen as a line item cost, businesses now look to warehouses to create a competitive edge by improving the quality of customer service, and the speed and accuracy of deliveries. What’s more, innovation is necessary as the sheer volume and challenge of warehousing work is changing. Our customers tell me that orders are more complex, SKUs are rising fast, peaks are ever more extreme and new workflows need to be introduced (e.g. for proof of delivery and processing returns).
Warehouses are predicting a 42% increase in SKUs and 70% increase in volume of items shipped by 2020. And with customers demanding ever fast delivery and flawless fulfillment the pressure is on to deliver. Temporary workers are crucial to ensuring that warehouses can cope – especially around peak times that are becoming ever more extreme. Some of our larger customers can employ hundreds and sometimes thousands of workers at these times.
With the capabilities of technology continually increasing, along with escalating levels of consumer demand, warehouses are undergoing a period of unprecedented change.
It’s a fact: people want access to their goods faster - that will never change. But in order to meet that demand and facilitate the provision of an efficient service, warehouses are being restructured and incorporating more cost effective and efficient technology to accelerate and expand business operations.