10 Technologies to Help Warehouses Mitigate Staffing Issues
In the fast-paced world of warehousing, the demand for efficiency and cost-effectiveness has never been greater. Staffing issues can be a major roadblock to warehouse productivity, and with labor shortages expected to continue for the foreseeable future businesses are turning to innovative technologies to overcome these challenges. In this blog post, we'll explore ten cutting-edge technologies that are revolutionizing the way warehouses operate, enabling them to optimize their processes, reduce reliance on human labor, and mitigate staffing issues.
1. Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence for Warehouse Layout Optimization
Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are being employed to analyze warehouse layouts, eliminate steps, and improve pick rates. One example of how data and AI are key to warehouse optimization is they are used to determine the most efficient arrangement of products and equipment, reducing the distance workers need to travel and boosting overall productivity.
2. Warehouse Execution System (WES)
Building from the above benefits, Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) are software that use data analytics and AI in addition to other capabilities to optimize various warehouse processes. They provide real-time visibility into warehouse activities and resources, enabling operations teams to make data-driven decisions to enhance efficiency and address staffing challenges effectively.
3. SMS Services for Quick Communication
SMS services allow warehouse workers to communicate inventory issues and ask questions quickly and easily. This instant communication helps streamline operations and ensures that workers have the information they need to do their jobs effectively. With Millennials and Gen Z, or those born between 1981 and now, comprising an ever increasing number of warehouse workers, having modern technology to communicate and make their jobs easier is both expected and essential.
4. Drones for Stock Checking
Drones are being used to check high shelves for stock, eliminating the need for human workers to climb ladders or use forklifts. This not only increases safety, but also reduces the reliance on skilled forklift operators to do jobs they don’t need to do, helping to mitigate staffing issues.
5. Wireless Charging for Fleets
Wireless charging technology automates the charging of electric fleet vehicles, eliminating the need for human intervention. With wireless charging, workers don’t need to unplug or plug vehicles to charge them, which saves them time and allows them to focus on other work. In addition, with wireless charging teams can be confident trucks will be charged when they need to use them and smaller fleets can get more done.
6. Training Programs, Cloud Computing, and Virtual Reality
Training programs like cloud computing training and Virtual Reality (VR) warehouse training are helping employees acquire the skills they need more effectively. These technologies make learning more engaging and accessible, reducing the time required to bring new hires up to speed. Companies like Amazon leverage these technologies to boost productivity, as well as for employee recruiting and development.
7. RFID Inventory Tracking
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is replacing traditional barcode systems to track warehouse inventory. RFID is more accurate and does not require line-of-sight, enabling better inventory management and reducing the need for extensive manual labor.
8. Cartonization Software
Cartonization software automates packaging decisions by determining the best packaging type and size for orders. This reduces the mental stress on workers and ensures consistent, efficient packaging, ultimately improving staff retention.
9. Automated Forklifts
Automated forklifts are increasingly used in warehouses to handle materials, reducing the reliance on human forklift operators. These autonomous vehicles can work around the clock, improving efficiency and mitigating staffing challenges.
10. Collaborative Mobile Robots
Collaborative mobile robots, or cobots for short, work alongside people to optimize tasks such as order picking and transportation. They enhance efficiency and productivity while reducing the physical strain on employees, which creates a safer and more effective work environment.
Honorable Mention: Warehouse Trends to Watch to Mitigate Labor Shortages
1. Dark Warehouses: Fully automated warehouses that operate 24/7, leveraging autonomous mobile robots, autonomous guided vehicles, and automated machinery.
2. On-Demand Warehousing: Flexible warehousing solutions that can be scaled up or down as needed.
3. Pop-Up Warehouses: Temporary warehousing facilities that can be set up quickly to meet short-term demand fluctuations. Companies like Crocs have successfully leveraged pop-up warehouses to meet seasonal and temporary demand, such as in locations where facilities aren’t yet available or during peak holiday season.
Interested in piloting a wireless charger and reducing your team's impact on manual labor? Contact us to see how easy it is to get started with wireless.