Connectivity is crucial to the evolution of the modern warehouse. By 2025 there will be around four million robots operating in 50,000 warehouses internationally. Robots have a huge amount to offer the warehouse environment, from improving accuracy to increasing productivity. In fact, they are crucial to establishing a smart warehouse environment. However, no matter how much technology you acquire, or the management systems that you have in place, there’s one essential factor that will govern how successful you are in transforming a smart warehouse: connectivity.
Why is connectivity so crucial?
Secure, real time connectivity is essential for transforming a smart warehouse today. Many businesses still rely on older or short-range technologies that can create a huge range of issues, from security problems to performance interruption. High performance wireless, 4G LTE and 5G provide all the support that is necessary to transform a warehouse into a smarter environment. There are two key reasons why upgrading existing premises to smarter systems really works.
- The productivity boost. Demands on warehouses today are constantly changing as the manufacturing sector shifts in response to factors such as technology and consumer demand. Legacy equipment and poor connectivity can make it difficult to be versatile in terms of providing the services that will retain clients and boost growth. The cost of mobile robotics is coming down and this has a huge range of productivity benefits for any warehouse – as long as you have the connectivity in place to support it. One obvious example is the use of AGVs (automated guided vehicles), which speed up picking and packing and make the process safer and less prone to error. From drones to autonomous forklifts, all AGVs require effective connectivity to deliver.
- Rebalancing labour costs. Automating warehouse operations can substantially reduce labour cost, which remains one of the biggest outgoings for any warehouse business. Robotics technology presents significant opportunities for warehouses looking to reduce the cost of labour, especially in a sector where wages have risen but productivity has gone down. Digitising operations brings in robots that can work relentlessly and with a consistent level of accuracy, allowing a warehouse business to increase output and minimise cost. What’s essential is to ensure that there is a balance between the use of robots and a human workforce. Using robots can have advantages such as reducing reliance on seasonal workers to meet specific peaks in demand. When this is combined with effective human warehouse management – and the right connectivity support – it can be transformative.
Effective connectivity provides a firm foundation on which any business can begin to generate growth and respond to the challenges presented by constantly evolving retail and manufacturing sectors. The use of robots and automation is becoming increasingly widespread and is likely to become the norm, as opposed to a ‘nice to have’ in the years to come. Creating a smart warehouse environment can help to boost productivity and bring costs down and may be essential to growth going forward – with the right connectivity anything is possible.