Many organizations are crystal gazing on what’s ahead in the New Year. The Supply Chain Industry will more actively embrace automation technologies in 2023 to manage tight labour markets, increase inventory capacity and expand visibility into their supply chain operations.
No matter what happens with the economy, labour will continue to be a pain point, throughout supply chain, be it Shop Floor in Manufacturing or Warehousing Operations or Transportation. Even in communities with more workers available, undesirable work shifts and lengthy commutes often deter people from accepting critical positions.
Warehouse business will continue to be Difficult, Dangerous and Dirty for the manpower involved and hence automation will be a norm.
- Labour will continue to be a challenge
Distribution Centres and Warehouses are struggling to meet extreme demands under strict deadlines — seen frequently around high-demand shopping events such as Black Friday, Big Billion Day and the pre-holiday surge. Unpredictability & Tightness in labour market will drive additional usage of Robots-as-a-Service-based automation services to lower capital expenditures and deploy automation based on subscription. That is particularly important because, while historically somewhat reluctant, companies are already adopting autonomous solutions to cut costs. Automation options such as autonomous mobile robots and piece-picking solutions are gaining traction. Undoubtedly, these technologies will become integral to easing labour shortages in distribution centres next year, especially during times of increased demand.
- A Digitally Connected Workforce
The key to an efficient work environment on the floor lies in the ability to equip frontline teams with the technology that enables them to take action autonomously and find the fastest path to resolving issues as they happen.
- Data digitization -Digitization provides quicker and easier access to real-time data for all employees, so that teams can focus on improving processes and reducing waste. The resulting visibility enables risk mitigation by monitoring the process by staying ahead of roadblocks and mechanical setbacks.
- Regulatory compliance and data audits – Ensuring that your team is following all regulatory requirements provides accountability and minimizes the chance for forged data, building trust between the supply chain and consumers.
- Boosting employee confidence – A connected workforce tool increases employee morale and empowers to do their jobs better and solve problems on their own with increased data at their fingertips. In addition, team collaboration ensures that each frontline worker has an explicit role to follow.
Enterprise Grade Warehouse Solutions which connects with Automations and Workforce and also with have the capability to create an Organisation level social platform will be key to achieve connected workforce.
- Supply chain visibility will become paramount
High-growth retailers, manufacturers and third-party logistics providers, meanwhile, have a challenge: how to build out the optimal supply chain solution without knowing product demands even six months from now. To succeed in this highly variable environment, these companies must achieve flexibility through system interoperability, which can be achieved thru unified Planning Solution like Integrated Demand Planning (IDP).
Without that level of interoperability and a “future solution mindset,” companies might find themselves tearing out solutions they recently deployed. In 2023, we will see more investment in technology that not only provides the insights necessary to better understand what is happening within distribution centers, but also closes the interoperability gap.
While these three trends should really take hold in 2023, the next five years will be truly fascinating. During this period, we’ll be able to take the “gig economy” model for human labour and apply it to automation. That means we’ll see projects where automation is needed for only a short time to get things running — maybe for even just a few weeks.
For example, a newly opened store might need support to handle peak demand. Or a company changing business lines might need extra support to accommodate the shift in orders. Those types of scenarios will usher in the advent of genuinely flexible — even mobile — automation, and that will be fun to watch.
The most important aspect of all warehouse automation is to ensure that the moment of truth (when the customer comes and demands for a good, services) is always met positively.
As we say goodbye to 2022, however, warehouse organizations that invest in the right automation technologies will help set the stage for their future success.
Contributed by Pallab Mitra , Global Director Sales & Marketing Trangile Services Pvt Ltd.