Warehouses of the Future
Whether you’re discussing the type of warehouse where products are stored and shipped from or those where actual products are actually produced/manufactured, the respective introduction and refinement of new and current technologies means that the warehouse environment is always undergoing change.
Three technologies worth mentioning include automation, 3D printing, and solar/renewable energy. These will play an important part in the warehouses of the future.
One key automated technology that will emerge in the coming years is the optically guided picking system/s. The picker is equipped with a camera that guides it to each pick location. Arrow symbols are superimposed in the field of vision, and a countdown provides a metre-by-metre measurement of how far is left to travel.
At the pick location, the goods to be picked are identified for the picker and the camera reads barcodes, lot numbers and serial numbers to confirm the pick without any further human intervention. This is just one the technologies that could eventually lead storage warehouses to be almost entirely automated.
2. 3D printing
With the emergence of 3D printing, it could have a marked impact on the necessity for manufacturing warehouses. While it will by no means spell the end of manufacturing warehouses, 3D printing could eliminate the ‘assembly’ phase of certain warehouses. In time, as 3D printing evolves and becomes more efficient, they’ll play a key role in manufacturing warehouses – this means that warehouses could, in turn, reduce in size and cost less to run.
3. Solar/renewable energy
Another prediction for the future of warehouses is that they will become 24/7/365 operations. Many of the traditional warehouse-based jobs will be handled by automated equipment/robots while the human element will exist more in terms of IT or as equipment service engineers.
Because warehouses will run almost non-stop, cleaner energy sources will need to be utilised. In Australia where sun is plentiful in many parts of the country, solar energy will likely be utilised. As newer, cleaner energy sources are discovered, developed and made available, these will be used over traditional coal/fossil fuel energy sources.