Exploring How New Technology Enhances the Warehouse Experience

Warehouses have changed immensely over the years. These buildings used to be very uniform, each one containing much of the same basic equipment. They also had a static primary purpose: to house inventory.

As shopping trends changed, however, so did warehouses. Facilities changed physically, requiring more space, including greater vertical space. Their purposes also changed, and many facility managers today make a point to move inventory as quickly as possible.

These changes aren’t always easy to grapple with. Often, it takes a revised view of what a warehouse should do and how, as well as the adoption of new warehouse technology, to modernize gracefully.

Warehouse management system

In many cases, the first step toward greater use of technology in the warehouse is implementing a warehouse management system. The WMS can act as the foundation for bringing on new technologies that keep the entire facility on the same page. But as integral to advancement as a WMS is, one-third of facilities haven’t adopted this technology, according to a Warehousing Education and Research Council survey of 549 industry professionals.

Some warehouses attempt to make up for a lack of a WMS by keeping track of items in spreadsheets or through other “disparate modules,” though these don’t have the same usefulness or functionalities of a robust WMS.

WMS technology is also getting more advanced. Some have machine learning capabilities, which help the system identify the top priorities at a given time of day or during certain conditions. WMS features like these can help facility managers stay abreast of changing conditions during high-demand days, such as those leading up to the winter holidays.

Updated materials handling equipment

Technology can introduce greater efficiency and communication between various assets in a warehouse, but it can also lead to improved safety practices.

One example of safety technology used in warehouses today is the interlocking system at the loading dock, which requires that a trailer be properly restrained before the dock door opens, eliminating the risk of trailer creep during loading or unloading. These systems can greatly reduce the risk of accidents, injuries and fatalities at the loading dock.

Recent models of forklifts have also incorporated health and safety features, Modern Materials Handling explained. Incorporating ergonomics into forklift design, for example, can do a lot to keep workers healthier and more comfortable. Inhibitor technologies also prevent operators from engaging in unsafe behaviors, such as going too fast in reverse. Some trucks’ inhibitors have speed limits that correspond to the activity taking place.

Keep your facility up to date with technology

As warehouse needs change, facility managers must keep up with evolving demands and the tools to help meet them. By understanding emerging trends in warehouse management, including advanced technology that can keep an operation running smoothly, managers can continuously improve their workplaces.

When it’s time to update your warehouse to accommodate changing requirements, Miner can help. Our service professionals can review your facility and determine key areas of improvement. We will even offer advice on which equipment to repair, replace or bring into your operation. Then we can procure the equipment and facilitate the installation, which helps make sure it’s integrated correctly and offers the greatest benefit possible. To learn more about working with Miner to update your warehouse, reach out for a quote today.