Inside Logistics

The warehouse of the future

Research examines technology trends


March 1, 2016
by MM&D Staff

A new study, “Warehouse of the Future” by VDC Research, analyzes and explores key technologies, strategic issues, and market drivers for automation in the warehouse and logistics industry.

With the boom of e-commerce and changing consumer habits, the warehouse and distribution centre are increasingly becoming vital components in the success of many businesses across a number of industries. Retail, logistics, pharmaceuticals, food, and beverage are just some of the industries looking for new ways to support their expanding warehouse operations.

The continuing development of solutions including data capture technologies, wearables and mobile devices, material flow solutions, robotics, and emerging software and analytics platforms will shape the warehouse of the future.

The key trends VDC found include:

  • Visibility into warehouse operations is becoming a key competitive advantage. There will be more and more deployments of data capture technologies such as imaging solutions for quality control, barcode scanning and dimensioning systems to cube items for high-density storage or transportation.
  • Wearables are gaining traction. Augmented reality and voice directed picking and put-away are rapidly developing and will gain greater acceptance once issues with battery life, connectivity, ruggedness and price point are resolved.
  • Robotic solutions for palletizing, depalletizing, ASRS and AGVs are now being thrown into the mix when DC managers are considering new technology. The high cost of labour is motivating some of this transition, so once the prices come down, these technologies will likely be well received.
  • Higher priced talent does not mean humans will be phased out, rather, the research suggests that skilled labour will be needed for more complex tasks not well suited to automation.
  • Ignoring the potential of data analytics when so much information is becoming so readily available may be the downfall of some. Planning for warehouses with advanced data collection and communication between systems will be essential for future efficiency.