October 20, 2020

Warehousing Challeges and Solutions in the Next 5 Years

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Exploring warehousing problems and solutions is a wise idea, as 2020 happens to be full of challenges for the whole supply chain industry.
In the middle of 2020, the health experts predict a new outbreak of Covid-19. Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries to prepare for the difficult autumn and winter months. As a result, the companies are accelerating production of their most popular items.

On the other hand, people now tend to prefer ordering groceries online, and using on-demand services, refusing from visiting ordinary brick-and-mortar stores. Getting prepared for the new reality is essential for the warehousing industry, as all the supply chain links depend on the way the warehousing operation management is prepared.

Still, there are warehousing problems and solutions that are not related to Covid-19, and have been present for some time in the industry.
As challenges of warehouses are becoming more outlined, let’s take a closer look at them.

  1. Relying too much on manual processes
  2. The lack of open communication between departments and instability in demand
  3. Lack of vertical and horizontal spaces optimization
  4. Disruption of an inventory control system
  5. Damages of products
  6. Lack of automation tools
  7. Boost in e-commerce during pandemic times result in last-mile delivery challenges

Relying too much on manual processes

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Small businesses are still relying on manual processes and traditional communication platforms to share information instead of acting on real-time data.

This results in a lack of speed and productivity of the entire chain of processes. Without automatic updates for the database and warehouse management system (also known as WMS) implementation, there’s always a chance of miscalculation, delay, or mistake.

To avoid miscalculations warehouse managers should select a newer software solution.

Many processes are automated nowadays with the WMS system. They are the software platforms that allow the execution and monitoring of business processes. WMS requires a considerable configuration effort, because logs may contain incorrect information of input and output. The data must be always checked and cleaned. Also read about warehouse automation technology.

Complete data logging could be a very heavy burden for the warehouse, so there is no need to log all data items at the same time. The most common tools to obtain reports from WMS are Oracle Discoverer or MS Excel.

The lack of open communication between departments and instability in demand

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Challenges of warehousing arise when there’s no or little communication between departments. Information gaps limit the ability to respond to the changes in demand effectively.

E.g., there’s a high demand for a specific item, and the warehouse doesn’t have the stock enough to cover it. Or, on the contrary, there’s no trend for a specific item, and the goods pile up while there’s no demand for them. Both options lead to financial loss.

To be ready for multiple orders, keep in touch with manufacturers and distributors to arrange the products, organize stock to move the goods faster in warehouse space. Demand forecasting methods help to predict what products are needed.

Another solution to this problem is very simple: it’s important to keep the whole supply chain transparent and communicate with the retailers to be aware of the demand at all times.

Warehousing problems and solutions such as this one are the key to better understanding end customers and their needs, while the whole supply chain business works to satisfy them. Getting an idea of what product and in what amount will be needed next month or even year is extremely important.

Lack of vertical and horizontal spaces optimization

Warehousing problems and solutions related to warehousing floor plans have been known for many years. It is natural that there’s already a way of overcoming ineffective arrangement of items.

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The inefficient arrangement of goods makes it difficult to search out for them, and delays the shipment. The usage of narrow aisle forklifts and pallet racks can minimize picking errors.

To further improve the accessibility of products from multiple floors, you can build openings inside your warehouse, on each floor (side racks), or use mezzanine structures.

Some WMS systems can offer a warehouse 3D modeling if the warehouse measurements are known. Retail mobile app trends – read more about our article.

Disruption of an inventory control system

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One of the most common challenges of warehousing is maintaining control over inventory. A sufficient order management system will help fulfill all processes in record time without the risk of duplicating items. Since one order is gathered by multiple people in large warehouses, a barcode technology may be used to reduce errors. This system will notify a user about the duplicates in order picking.

Damages of products

Warehousing problems and solutions sometimes are centered around accidents that lead to product damages, which happen when it comes to huge amounts of inventory and heavy-duty equipment.

To prevent accidents, managers install protective arrangements like pallet rack protectors, special nets for racks, anti-slip tape, lockout systems, warning bars, and accumulation conveyor systems. Additionally, they inspect storage shelves for overload and breaks, as well as look for malfunction in transportation equipment.

Lack of automation tools

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Hiring only necessary labor workers for smoother logistics operations will be a good solution in developing the right workplace.

Warehouse managers are trying to increase productivity in minimizing labor costs. If you have enough employees to accomplish manual tasks (forklift operators, cleaners, material handlers, shipping specialists, loaders, stock clerks), it is a time to add more automation tools.

To ease the tasks of labor workers, robotics warehouse technology allows installing a self-guided robot to perform picking jobs.

E.g., Ware Robotics, which works at the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, has launched the warehouse inventory counting system.
Autonomous drones, that are made by Skydio, collect the data. Their system captures images in a facility, uploads it to the Ware cloud, gives the operators a visual audit history of the inventory status.

Inventory countings and locations are automatically imported into the client’s WMS to give the entire team — from picker to operations manager — the most accurate state of warehouse inventory. Ware’s innovation was designed to enlarge the accuracy and frequency of inventory tracking, reducing its cost.

Boost in e-commerce during pandemic times result in last-mile delivery challenges

Naturally, extensive demand for last-mile delivery services over the last year becomes one of the cornerstones of traditional warehousing problems and solutions.

Today 83 percent of respondents are using parcel companies such as UPS and FedEx for last-mile delivery.

Last mile delivery can be the most expensive part in the logistics process in terms of operating costs. Many companies are outsourcing their last-mile deliveries to a 3PL partner, because the service would require a solid fleet of vehicles.

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Drones are now on testing for making deliveries of medical products to hospitals and health clinics.

Speaking of the innovative solutions, online retailer Amazon has been planning to use Amazon Prime Air, unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages up to five pounds in less than 30 minutes from the warehouse directly to one’s door.

An increasing number of businesses like Walmart, Target, IKEA, are planning to develop urban warehousing. Supply chain traceability for agri-food. Find more information in our article.

It would be easier to reduce delivery time if a fulfillment center is closer to the end customer.

As you can see, warehousing tends to be one of the most challenging industries. Yet, there’s always a solution for every challenge. Embracing new approaches and technologies, many leading companies thrive in the ever-changing reality of unstable demand and high competitiveness.

If you’re looking for a reliable WMS solution, make sure to contact Coreteka team, and we’ll gladly help you develop the system you’re looking for.