The New Standards for Warehouse Technology

The fast-changing world of warehouse technology presents a multitude of options that promise to increase productivity and cut losses, from organizing product data to tracking shipments. Whether you’re looking to re-engineer your warehouse entirely or make minor tweaks to your day-to-day operations, here are three warehouse technology developments that could improve your operations.

1.  Voice picking – This hands-free technology allows pickers to receive clear instructions as they work and to move quickly and efficiently between tasks. Associates using this warehouse technology are in constant communication with the system, which validates their actions by voice and gives feedback to keep them on track.

Why your warehouse needs it:

  • Increased accuracy: Without lag time and distractions caused by paper lists or scanners, voice picking can help DCs achieve 99.99 percent picking accuracy.
  • No learning curve: New users can typically master voice picking technology in less than a week. Less training time means lower costs associated with training new employees. This is especially good news for DCs that rely largely on seasonal or temporary workers.
  • Employee approved: Workers have expressed immense satisfaction with voice picking technology, noting how easy it is to use and how much safer they feel by being more aware of their surroundings.

2.  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – With this technology, mass amounts of product and shipment data come together in one simple, wireless operation. With RFID systems, read-write equipment is installed at the entry of a warehouse, and shipments are equipped with RFID tags.  All of the information stored in the tags is transmitted to a central computer in the warehouse.

Why your warehouse needs it:

  • Hands off: Using this warehouse technology means no more manually scanning individual items. Unlike bar codes, RFID systems do not require a line of sight to be read. RFID readers can be set to automatically monitor all movements that happen in storage areas, shelves, or container yards.
  • Know more: RFID tags can hold far more information than barcode labels. The tags store knowledge about the status of your assets, as well as machine repair and maintenance.
  • Multitasking: Multiple RFID tags can be scanned at the same time, and all data is automatically sent to the warehouse’s central computer.
  • Security: RFIDsystems can be set up to monitor business activity and send alerts if items are moved after hours or transaction volume is abnormal.

3.  Advance ship notice (ASN) – Knowing exactly what to expect at your warehouse door on a delivery day will save you time and money. An ASN is an electronic document that notifies a warehouse of upcoming deliveries. Like a packing list, an ASN provides detailed information about the shipment’s contents, order information, packaging type, carrier information, and more.

Why your warehouse needs it:

  • Scheduling solution: When you know an order’s exact shipment location and expected arrival date, planning marketing activities, production schedules, and customer deliveries becomes easier. You’ll know precisely which employees you’ll need and when you need them with the ASN’s detailed timetable.
  • Monitored accuracy: Since you’ll know in advance exactly what to expect in a shipment, you’ll know right when it arrives if something is missing or incorrect.
  • Global compatibility: All ASN label standards are global, alleviating risks of confusion from international suppliers. The standards also apply throughout the entire supply chain, from the raw materials supplier through the end retailer.

In today’s competitive environment, many businesses are leaning on technology to automate their distribution operations. Keeping up with the changing landscape of warehouse management systems will ensure that your business remains competitive and profitable.