What’s the latest in new warehouses?

When building a new warehouse or filling out a newly purchased gray building, it’s important to understand modern business needs. Today’s supply chain facilities are very different than those of the past, namely due to changing trends among shoppers and evolving technology.

Omnichannel shopping strategies, including home deliveries that customers expect to be completed within days (or hours) of ordering and ship-to-store options, have driven companies to rethink logistics. Additionally, developments in technology have led to more efficient, data-based processes that save time and money.

Miner can help companies that have newly built or acquired properties outfit them with the right assets to support a modern business model. They can also help companies revamp their existing facilities to meet modern needs. Here are three trends that are defining the latest warehouses today:

Faster operations

Modern warehouses and distribution centers need to move items more quickly than supply chain employees of the past, Trucks.com explained. With online shoppers expecting same-day, next-day or two-day deliveries, timing is essential, and operations must strive to keep up with demand.

“In the previous model you didn’t need to move things all that quickly,” David Egan, head of industrial and logistics research at CBRE, said according to Trucks.com. “In this compressed dynamic, you’ve got to push into cities and places where people live.”

For a fast-moving operation, each leg of the inventory’s journey must be carefully planned and fit together seamlessly. This requires each piece of equipment that impacts that journey to be fully functional and supportive of productivity. Conveyor systems that transport items from one station to another help gather supplies easier, and can be customized according to the needs of a specific operation.

One example of this can be found in manufacturing facilities where items have numerous checkpoints and stops before they are completed and tested. Rotating conveyors allow items to turn corners quickly and without requiring a worker to lift them, which can be a slow process that exposes the employee to risk of musculoskeletal strain.

High-speed doors also support fast operations because they reduce the amount of time workers need to wait for portals to open. Though these may only save a few seconds each time a person passes through a doorway, that time savings adds up quickly.

Taller ceilings

Older warehouses tend to also be shorter buildings. Close to 1 billion square feet of warehouses in the U.S. have ceiling clear heights of less than 20 feet, according to research from CBRE. Over time, warehouses grew to between 24 and 26 feet high, and today are reaching ceiling clear heights of 34 to 40 feet, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods magazine reported.

Taller ceilings mean companies can store more items within the same square footage. This convenience has been difficult to attain in the past due to technological limitations, but advancements in the modern warehouse make tall ceilings a practical means to improve operations.

Better lighting technology means fixtures can be installed higher and still provide sufficient lighting at ground level. Additionally, automated retrieval systems and pickers mean workers don’t have to physically reach the top levels of their shelving units to fill orders. Fire suppression systems have also evolved to effectively protect workers and inventory, even from higher installation points.

Focus on data

Businesses in virtually all industries are becoming more data-driven with the influx of information people have access to thanks to digital and connected tools. Warehouse management systems and computerized maintenance management systems both allow facility managers to keep a close eye on operations and pinpoint areas where they could improve.

WMSs give managers up-to-date looks into their inventory and fulfillment operations. They also give workers information about where items are stored and how to quickly retrieve an order. A WMS can use voice recognition, radio frequency ID and enterprise resource planning technology. The WMS market is becoming more popular each year, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.1 percent from 2017-2025.

CMMSs add value to modern warehouses by giving facility managers a clear look into the health of their equipment. These keep track of which assets are repaired, how and when. Over time, these can highlight patterns that may indicate a recurring malfunction, the need for a new or additional asset, or the benefit of a replacement. Modern warehouse operations are becoming more reliant on CMMSs to help them stay as productive as possible, Logistics Management explained.

“Since CMMS’s purpose is to keep things up and running, it’s going to tend to be more important in a highly automated facility because you are relying less on manual labor and more on your machinery,” Jonathan Clark, director of professional services for CMMS Data Group, told Logistics Management.

Update your warehouse in 2019

If you’re building a new warehouse or filling in a gray building, taking advantage of the latest technology used in warehouses can help you develop a valuable facility that works for your business or for your future lessors. To learn about how Miner can help you create a modern warehouse or update an existing facility, reach out for a quote today.