Technology transforms the way industries operate – more so now with the ongoing global pandemic, which hugely impacted order fulfillment operations. Lockdowns, social distancing, and COVID-19 health and safety protocols are making it extremely difficult for warehouses to operate – affecting the entire supply chain in turn.
In today’s landscape, those in the logistics and warehousing industry must find ways to operate seamlessly with reduced manpower. Automation is crucial to minimizing disruption and remaining competitive without sacrificing safety.
As the pandemic continues to reshape the global supply chain, here are some emerging trends in logistics and warehousing for 2021 you’ll want to keep an eye on.
- Autonomous machines or autobots
The latest trend in smart warehouses, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) or autobots are revolutionizing the way warehouses operate. Everything from stackers, forklifts, pallet movers and shelving to drones and even inventory-carrying robots are making warehouse processes ever-more efficient and cost-saving.
- Wearable technology
Wearables are widely popular in many industries, including logistics and warehousing. From ring and wrist barcode scanners to voice-directed headsets to smart glasses, companies are investing in wearable devices to manage and track their inventory. Meanwhile, augmented reality (AR) wearables allow workers to see measurements and picking stats, as well as get navigation support and digital help such as highlighting boxes or products for easier identification.
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- Industrial IoT (IIoT)
Another emerging trend that has greatly enhanced efficiency and convenience in warehousing operations is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). From lighting to package tracking, IIoT or smart devices enable warehouse processes to be automated or controlled remotely. For example, RFID tags attached to product packaging can help track every movement of goods within the warehouse.
At Global Sources, verified suppliers offer a wide array of IoT products and smart devices.
While blockchain was not initially designed to support warehouses, it has proven very useful, especially in optimizing inventory management, transport tracking and logistics. This technology enables everyone within the supply chain network – warehouses, manufacturers, suppliers, distribution centers and retail partners – to connect to each other through a permanent record of every transaction made.
- Cloud computing
Many businesses today employ cloud computing, and the logistics and warehousing industry is no exception. Not only does cloud computing make communications possible in real time, but it also makes tracking parcels and packages and identifying bottlenecks easy.
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