The logistics industry and supply chain process is constantly evolving. The ecommerce boom in recent years has transformed the way 3PLs approach their day-to-day operations, and the industry today is completely different to the industry of 10 years ago.
Here at Allegro Logistics we like to keep abreast of the latest developments to ensure we provide a stellar service to our clients not only in Bristol and across the UK, but all over the world. Here we’ve explained some of the industry’s emerging trends that are likely to become prominent as we progress through 2019.
Technology & Cloud-Based Data Solutions
When warehouse-specific technology and software was initially designed, companies were sceptical of its introduction and initially shied away from utilising it. Management teams were satisfied with the trusted pen and paper procedures they already had in place, and didn’t see the benefits of going digital.
However, this soon changed. Nearly all warehouses across the UK are now equipped with the latest technology solutions and they’re reaping the benefits of using fast, flexible and high-powered software. Cloud-based solutions, to name just one example of the technology available to logistics providers, has enabled everyday warehouse processes to be achieved much quicker. It’s become a main driver in logistics activity and allows a wide range of data to be quickly accessed by staff wherever their location. The software can also be integrated to help manage inventory, shipments and orders with ease, so it’s become an incredibly valuable tool for warehouses of all sizes.
The prominence of technology in the logistics industry is only expected to increase in the coming years. The benefits it provides far outweighs the outlay, and improvements and updates are constantly being introduced, so by no means have we reached the maximum – future advancements in technology are certain to take the logistics industry to the next level.
Drones in Distribution
Although this is unlikely to arrive in 2019, the prospect of drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in distribution is a hot topic in the logistics world. They still need to overcome numerous health and safety regulations but it’s only a matter of time before they become a widespread reality.
Many companies are currently designing indoor drones specifically for warehouses and distribution centres, and once finalised they’ll be an essential asset to all warehouse workforces. The UAVs will be able to scan inventory bar codes and RFID tags as well as replace the rigid conveyor systems, significantly reducing the workload placed on staff.
The end goal is undoubtedly having drones that can deliver packages from the warehouse to the customer’s front door, but this is a long way off yet. Before this even gets considered they’ll have to prove to be safe and reliable in high winds, rain and snow, as well as demonstrate that they can hold anything heavier than just a pizza box, so don’t get too excited about this just yet.
Autonomous cars and delivery trucks are in a similar position to drones – it’s a development that has grown in recent years, but is probably still some time away before its extensively introduced. There’s many legal, social, safety and ethical issues still to overcome, so again it’s probably not going to take off anytime soon, but is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Robots are quickly making their way into the logistics sector. They’re providing unprecedented levels of efficiency and accuracy in the warehouse, and companies are therefore utilising them to assist with a variety of their habitual tasks, such as the loading and unloading of containers, and piece picking. Their capabilities will only expand as time goes on, so we anticipate a range of exciting robotic developments to be at the forefront of the industry over the next few years.
Need for Warehouse Workers
Despite technological advancements and an increase in robotics, warehouse workers are still in high demand. Opportunities for skilled professionals to work alongside the autonomous robots and manage the intuitive warehouse software are often presented, so you’d be wrong if you were to think that warehouse hiring is slowing down.
Many people make the mistake of believing that technology has displaced them, but this couldn’t be further from the truth – the purpose of technology isn’t to replace human workers, but instead to enhance their capabilities. Most companies don’t have the budget that Amazon and the other big boys have to play around with technology and there will always be tasks that technology will never be able to carry out, so humans will always be needed to ensure the smooth running of a warehouse or distribution centre.
Warehouse workers are currently in short supply, but there’s a growing need for millennial workers to join warehouse workforces. The tech savvy generation are much more likely to be able to get to grips with the technology used in the warehouse and will be familiar with how the various operating systems work. Not only will this reduce the onboarding period, but it can also help both efficiency and profitability during seasonal peaks.
So contrary to what many think, complete robot domination in the warehouse is unlikely to become common for many years.
Next/Same Day Delivery
Evolution in transport and the automotive industry has enabled next day delivery to skyrocket in the last few years. It integrates the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of brick and mortar, and is the delivery solutions that consumers now consider as the norm.
Many firms are also starting to offer same day delivery on selected items, so this is something that could become more common as we move through 2019.
Increased Safety in the Warehouse
Health and safety in the warehouse is something that’s been under a lot of scrutiny in recent years and has become more prominent since studies showed that fatalities in the work place increased in 2017.
Warehouse managers have a responsibility to protect their staff and are required to have a detailed risk assessment as well as health and safety policy in place in order to comply with legal obligations. Implementing safety measures such as ensuring walkways are kept clear, having mirrors on walls to provide further visual aid for forklift operators and making sure warehouse equipment is fit for purpose can all help to prevent faults from developing into something more critical.
Experienced Third Party Logistics Provider in Bristol
If you’re looking for expert logistics advice or are considering to outsource your business’ supply chain management, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Allegro Logistics team today. We have over 60 years of experience in the industry and are dedicated to providing cost-effective and customer focused logistics solutions to clients all over the globe.