What will Australia’s warehouses look like in the future?

By Greg Bell

We've examined at how offices in the Gold Coast may look in the future – from clean, green solutions to embracing emerging technologies in the workplace. It's no surprise, then, that Australian warehouses are set to undergo major transformations in the coming years. Here, we look at what the future of our warehouses may look like, and what it means for your management strategies. 

Say goodbye to paper

It's no secret that offices all over the world are turning to digitally driven solutions for documentation in an attempt to offset their carbon emissions. With the rise of Cloud based apps, businesses have been reducing their paper trail by having files electronically accessible from anywhere in the world. Warehouses aren't exempt from these changes. Beyond the environmental benefits, a paperless warehouse can make stock management and other processes much easier, such as automatic data entry.

Live inventory tracking

A major headache for warehouse managers is ensuring the accuracy of inventory stock takes, and tracking where different items are placed not only in the warehouse, but when they're elsewhere too. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags mean that stock can be assessed from anywhere in the world, and can store more data than a typical barcode or label.

There are many benefits to using RFID technology in warehouses, in particular, inventory inaccuracies. Through RFID tags, you can be sure that your stock levels are correct, and replenish supplies as needed. This is beneficial when it comes to theft too. Rather than carrying out lengthy manual checks, you can simply search for the location of any given product.

Predictive maintenance

Generally speaking, equipment maintenance today is usually marked by weekly or monthly checks. With the implementation of the Internet of Things, there is more data about the function and capacity of equipment than ever before. Through analysis of this information, predictions will show when certain aspects need fixing or changing, or if a potential breakdown is to occur in your commercial warehouse. These determinations are the result of measuring a range of factors, such as operational temperature, life expectancy, and how long machinery is being used for.

Embracing automation

Automated warehouse technology isn't a new concept. In fact, automation has been a key player in the warehouse world for decades. This involves smart systems selecting items during the picking process to fully automated forklifts stacking incoming stock. However, the future of warehousing looks to total automation, from inventory to shipping. As research into artificial intelligence accelerates, developers are piecing together the puzzle to help robots recognise objects they have picked up, as well as functioning with the dexterity of human hands.

Beyond motor skills, it's important for technology in warehouses to have a correction or troubleshooting element. Where robotics are considered, this means that they'll need to have an element of self-care or maintenance to ensure systems don't collapse with one break in the automated system. Unfortunately, this still remains very much in the concept stage – technology powerhouse Amazon claim that fully automated warehouses are still at least 10 years away.

Despite some of these processes seeming like concepts straight out of a science fiction movie, this technology is relatively accessible, and is being utilised in warehouses globally. Even if you're not ready to take a totally automated approach to warehouse management, there are simple ways to bring these futuristic processes into your strategies today. This could be using a cloud based documentation system, such as Google Sheets to log your inventory, or bringing RFID tags in for high risk products.

Regardless of your method, embracing new technology ensures you'll be ready for changes as they come. If you're looking for new facilities for your Gold Coast business, get in touch with the team at Ray White Surfers Paradise. 

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