What Going Digital Can Mean for Your Warehouse Operation

As technology evolves so do material handling operations across the board. In a warehouse setting, going out with the old and in with the new can yield and foster rewards that would not be attainable otherwise. There are many benefits to going digital and revamping your warehouse operation. Here are several bi-products of digitally accelerating any warehouse operation:

1) Master Your Supply Chain

Supply chain management is the cornerstone of procurement, production and facilities management. Going digital allows for management and leadership to see all aspects of a product lifecycle in a virtual, landscape view. Digital technologies also allow management to see the weak points in existing operations and also notice trends in all facets of the supply chain from a global perspective. SAP is a great tool that illustrates the digital age revamping production processes.

2) Improve Productivity and Efficiency

Augmentations to existing technologies can lead to innovative and interactive methods to complete a task, faster and better. Many Lean Manufacturing or Six Sigma Methodologies champion this while calling for process improvement and business optimization through faster, safer and more comprehensive approaches. Digital technology is nearly a necessity to achieve this. These methodologies can be migrated in to standard operating procedures or workplace practices, which ultimately will promote a transformative culture that bolsters employee morale and establishes efficient practices.

3) Champion Best Practices

Digital technology is designed to reduce and eliminate nuances that produce counter-productive effects and establish what is regarded as “best business practices”. Ideally, a best practice will have little faults, but even the best practices can become outdated. However, the digital warehouse allows employers to notice recurring patterns or highlight areas that need improvement. What may take months to find reviewing logs and ledgers can be exposed in minutes with real-time data warehousing. As a result these best practices can stay as such, with little amendment required if there are any noticeable deficiencies.

4) More Automation

Future warehouses are expected to reach new levels of automation. According to KoganPage, Centralization of warehousing is the wave of the future, as retailers are building bigger sheds with more automation, replacing smaller antiquated regional centers. (http://www.koganpage.com/article/the-warehouse-of-the-future). In turn this ultimately will reduce logistics and transportation costs and further drive inventory control measures to new levels. The warehouse of the digital age is synonymous with automation. Furthermore, many performance metrics can be implemented in to leading platforms to help organizations achieve goals from the ground-up.

5) RFID Tracking

For the forklift enthusiasts, the digital age has some cutting-edge technologies as well. According to Inbound Logistics, The RFID system saves on labor costs because workers no longer need to manually scan bar codes to identify pallets (http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/getting-lean-and-going-green-innovations-in-warehouse-operations/). RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a prototypical material handling apparatus. Forklifts are outfitted with an RFID interrogator and a computerized interface picks up a pallet, capturing the tag's ID. The forklift's computer communicates with a digital warehouse management system (WMS), which guides forklift operators where to move the pallet. While this may seem trivial and novel, this actually leads to a great reduction in operating time in large-volume warehouses often found across the United States.

Bio: Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.

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