When looking at the transformative trends that are shaping any sector it’s hard to look beyond artificial intelligence (AI). The UK hosted its first AI Safety Summit in November where King Charles heralded its development as “no less important than the discovery of electricity”.
And the warehousing and logistics space is not being left behind in the revolution. More widely, technology is central to any fulfilment strategy and needs to be leveraged efficiently to help maintain a competitive advantage at a time of rising costs and environmental considerations. Here are five ways in which it is having a direct impact:
Automation has been a fundamental part of logistics for decades but there’s a real uptick in terms of the extent of its application across functions. A report earlier in 2023 from Vecna Robotics stated that “warehouse automation is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses aiming to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced world.” However, cost concerns, training considerations and compatibility are all significant hurdles that may well get in the way.
A widespread deployment of technology and robotics across warehousing and logistics may automate certain tasks but, according to McKinsey, it won’t necessarily eliminate entire roles. Humans will still be required to be present, visible and adequately kitted out with appropriate PPE on the shop floor.
The unrelenting growth in e-commerce has driven logistical systems to become quicker and more efficient. Forbes Business Council outlines several ways in which this is manifesting itself: from drone deliveries and locker-style drop-off points, to advances in real-time tracking and the move towards smaller, localised warehousing.
Again, there needs to be a human team behind this expanding infrastructure: the technician who retrieves and fixes a broken drone; the team overseeing the construction of a neighbourhood fulfilment centre; and not least the delivery driver. Some of these roles have evolved over time but others are completely new – emphasising the need for a dynamic strategy when it comes to sourcing the best quality workwear and protective equipment for teams.
3. Environmental impact
Warehousing and logistics operations are a central part to any corporate sustainability strategy, having traditionally been energy and resource intense. Advances in renewable energy are making it a more affordable and practical technology to roll out. At the Contego site in West Sussex we have worked with Fotowatio Renewable Ventures to enable the installation of 28 Tesla Megapack batteries. The batteries can store 68 MWh of energy from renewable sources ready to be fed into the UK National Grid.
Electric vehicles are coming down in price and the infrastructure – on both a personal and commercial scale – is rapidly becoming more widespread and resilient with more than one million EVs on UK roads.
It’s easier than ever to embed a culture of reduce, reuse and recycle with sustainable technologies creating more innovative packaging solutions whilst also releasing fewer emissions. Household names are leading the way, with IKEA stating an ambition to be circular and climate positive by 2030.
4. Forecasting demand and planning supply
There’s no doubt that AI developments have been incrementally improving when it comes to data analysis. AI systems can instantly identify and interpret patterns and trends relating to all the various moving parts in warehousing and logistics: supply, workforce, inventory and customer. And, of course, the software is learning and getting more powerful all the time – informing strategies around risk identification and mitigation, dynamic pricing and even through to analysing weather and traffic conditions to plan the best routes for shipments.
5. Health and safety
If the latest technology and innovation is being applied across warehousing and logistics then improved health and safety strategies are benefitting too. Accidents can be predicted and prevented by smart cameras and data patterns can be interrogated for potential pinch points.
There’s also an increasing focus on health – with wearable tech just as practical and preventative in the warehouse as it is on the running track. Ventilation, sanitisation and lighting improvements all help to make the workplace a more comfortable and safer place to be.
We’re very much living in the world of the ‘smart warehouse’ and any business involved with fulfilment and logistics will need to embrace and scrutinise developments in technology to avoid being left behind. But being smart also applies to ensuring the well-being of your workforce and providing the kit they need beyond computers and prediction models.
At Contego we understand that the warehousing and logistics landscape is moving at unprecedented speed. Our friendly and expert team will partner with you to understand your requirements and provide you with advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs.
Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or email@example.com