A great number of changes have occurred over the past year and a half. The way we purchase products, the way we communicate and the way that we work have all been digitally disrupted. However, out of this disruption, technology has quickly become the guiding light and force for good between many organisations. Within the warehouse sector, digitisation has enabled operations to become streamlined, the accuracy of orders and picking to be guaranteed, and overhead costs and business hours to be dramatically reduced. Not only this, but new technology has also facilitated the implementation of many innovative, and new safety measures within the warehouse.
These fascinating developments with the warehouse industry make the Supply Chain Network team very proud and eager to discover the potential of future eCommerce operations and order fulfilment technology. Below the team share their top tech tips to consider, to prepare your business for successful supply chain digitisation.
Technological Innovations Improving Warehouse Safety
Increased productivity will always remain a priority within manufacturing and distribution facilities alike. Safety, however, is also still of high importance, and many new technological devices and software can now support worker safety better than ever before. The variety of tools can include anything from virtual reality and augmented reality safety training for employees, to real-time communication devices (such as tablets) to conduct rigorous safety checks and apps for identifying risk and hazards within the workplace. Other streamlined processes could make use of drones and video analytics to effectively survey quality control within workstations, to installing robots and conveyors to automate more dangerous, labour intensive roles and avoid staff injury. All these preventative safety measures are paramount to the efficient and safe management of a facility and its over-arching daily operations and show how digitisation is quickly transforming the workplaces of the warehouse industry.
Artificial Intelligence Supporting Ecommerce
The advent of the eCommerce boom noticeably dawned at the beginning of the first lockdown. The knock-on effect has been an overwhelming increase in the number of consumers becoming reliant on businesses being available 24/7. The fact that this is not always humanly possible, is where AI (Artificial Intelligence) has really proved its worth. Gathering data in real-time, AI remembers our search terms, our regular product orders, and can then cleverly use this information to predict our future behaviour. This information in turn is then used by businesses to formulate accurate and reliable sales forecasting figures. Data which is then used to approximate inventory and fulfilment projections.
This use of AI for sales forecasting enables pureplay, bricks and mortar and clicks and mortar businesses to improve their retail efficiency. Having AI provide data on when and where products are most frequently sold provides businesses with accurate predictions of demand for their individual inventory items, and in turn dictates what stock to hold, and when to renew the supply which cuts often expensive inventory holding expenses. Information that makes AI an invaluable asset to efficient warehouse operations.
Consumer-facing AI technologies include voice assistants, such as SIRI and Alexa, which harness digitised voice optimisation to purchase products online from pureplay stores such as Amazon. Chatbots on eCommerce websites are also supported by AI and can provide consumers with dependable and accessible customer support before, during, and after a transaction. All data of which can be collected and analysed to better understand the customer journey and encourage repeat business.
Cyber Security and Future Proofing
The pandemic being the main accelerator of current eCommerce growth has seen more people than ever spending time online. Whilst a nice boost for business, this also however poses a great security threat to our digital footprints. Increased online activity leaves businesses and consumers alike vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Phishing emails, malware viruses, and ransomware threats are all very real and have very damaging consequences for those who are sadly targeted and trapped.
Advice from the National Cyber Security Office advocates preventative measures over reactive action as the best advice for protecting your businesses’ digital domain. Digitisation, while efficient and an effective integration tool can also be jeopardised quite quickly and easily if protections are not already in place. Avoiding being compromised can be as simple as educating staff about digital risk, and how to report suspicious activity, as well as ensuring all data and software is backed up. All best practice preventative measures to protect against a malicious hack.
Be successful in 2021
Experts in all aspects of warehouse and network design, SCN understands the importance of remaining competitive in a dynamic industry and the critical data analysis required to achieve this. Specialists in Warehouse Design and Fit-Out, the SCN team can help you reach your facility’s fulfilment potential in 2021 and beyond. Visit www.scnuk.com to learn about the work that we do and to ensure you are ready and future-proof your business plans and warehouse design.
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