There have been many factors affecting the supply chain industry over the past couple of years. The rise of e-commerce increasing warehousing demand, rising real estate prices driving up facility costs, and unprecedented challenges in the labor market have forced warehouse operators to radically reassess their approach.
As we start to see a shift back to in-person events with shows like MODEX 2022 welcoming more than 850 exhibitors and 37,000 visitors - a record number - we’re wondering what’s next for the industry as we know it.
Here are four key trends on where we think the future of the warehousing is headed:
With the increase in e-commerce causing a surge in warehouse demand, companies are doing everything they can to find efficiency in their operations. Warehouses aren’t just expanding outwards, they’re expanding upward. It’s expected that 330 million new square feet of warehousing are needed to fulfill demand by 2025 in the U.S. alone. As a result, the warehouse automation market is expected to rise from $15 billion in 2019 to $51 billion by 2030 to support this fast growth.
The warehouse of the future is going to be fully automated. From self-flying drones for inventory control to automated picking robots, there was a wide array of technology on display at MODEX 2022.
For example, Clark shared its autonomous forklift. This allows operators to stay at their computer and monitor it remotely, reallocating resources to focus on more value-added tasks.
In line with the above, a major focus was on robotics. Companies are investing in robotics supply companies as well as creating new robotic products themselves.
Autonomous robots already have a strong place in the industry but we see robotics becoming more of a commodity, a must-have. They drive value in the supply chain industry as they help companies overcome labor shortages, improve accuracy and reduce risk by doing jobs that were previously dangerous for human labor to perform. And because of this, companies are able to re-assign resources to focus on value added tasks as well as the interpretation of the data that robots provide.
Software that integrates with a wider variety of hardware has been in demand in the supply chain industry for a long time. And with the increase in software as a service (SaaS) over recent years, users have put more demand on companies to create software that is user and process-centric.
There were a lot of software solutions on offer at MODEX 2022 but the focus was on automated platforms that provide data-driven solutions, and integration of that data to WMS and ERP systems.
Continuing with the theme of user-centric software, we’re also seeing increased supply chain visibility, at a larger scale. With the advancement of technology over the last 10 years and a significant push to cloud-based software with real-time data, users have access to more curated data. And more access to data means enhanced visibility of your facility’s operations, without the need to be on-site.
For example, autonomous inventory management systems capture imagery of all inventory locations, sending streamlined reports to cloud-based dashboards after every flight. This allows employees to access more data at the click of a button remotely, solving exceptions from their desks rather than on the warehouse floor. This remote visibility can enable the standardization of best practices across facilities within a network to drive advantages in the increasingly competitive landscape.
See how Ware is automating inventory management and creating ROI for customers. Read our case study here.