Warehousing operations and IT professionals need to respond positively to the significant changes and challenges that will be influencing the industry over the next five years – or face disaster.
At its most basic, warehousing is a simple concept. It’s about storing materials or goods and filling orders from one end of the supply chain to the other. But in the real world of today, tomorrow and especially five years from now, growing complexity means warehousing is evolving to become anything but simple. Today’s warehousing professionals are feeling significant pressures from multiple internal and external sources.
The global recession affected the industry in many ways. In an effort to free up capital, there were major cuts in held inventory, adding capacity was deprioritised and expansion of existing or construction of new warehouses and distribution centres was scaled back or halted altogether. Now, as the economy has begun to grow, warehouse operations are growing again. But as they grow, they are also being transformed by a number of issues that go well beyond simple increases in volume and throughput.
New warehousing realities
Today’s warehouse professionals face a series of significant changes in the ways warehouses, distribution centres and the entire supply chain operate. More facilities and larger spaces demand high-speed mobile communications virtually everywhere on or off the floor. A virtual acrossthe- board customer demand for personalisation is driving an increase in the number of SKUs, leading to increased inventory visibility, accuracy and efficiency needs. New regulations call for more accurate product tracking and tracing. Fuel cost volatility impacts logistics and much more. The growth of omnichannel transactions creates the need for increased inventory control, flexibility and faster, more accurate fulfillment. All these factors contribute to the need to convert warehouses and distribution centres into assets for competitive differentiation.