Whether your warehouse is a traditional building with aisles of inventory, a series of components spread across multiple divisions or suppliers, or a field of pipe spanning 600 acres, the need for access to critical supply chain data anytime, anywhere is now a business imperative. Additionally, upstream and downstream trading partners demand product fulfillment visibility to see and interact with each other throughout the entire process. This capability is at the core of the warehouse of the future: one with no walls, and therefore no barriers to accessibility and efficiency.
Three fundamental attributes define the warehouse of the future:
- Promotion of supply chain visibility
- Best-in-class productivity
- Customer involvement
Creating efficiency has always been crucial in the warehouse, something DSI has routinely done over decades of helping our customers enable highly optimized warehouses, which are now a key part of the digital supply chain. Companies choose process automation strategies like bar coding and wireless computing to increase accuracy and efficiency, but the warehouse of the future demands even more. It extends not only to automated data capture and paperless processing, but also reaches outside the four walls. The warehouse of the future will combine these bread and butter basics with newer technologies like cloud, connected environmental sensors, machine-to-machine integration and mobile users to enable advanced demand signals and supply chain visibility with prescriptive and predictive analytics.
The connected warehouse of the future is one in which significant productivity gains and cost efficiencies are realized by real-time measuring and reporting. The consumerization of IT has now hit the warehouse floor. That means the people doing the work are able to use mobile devices to track not only inventory, but also their labor and process efficiency—they want to see their productivity unfold in real time. That sort of access not only motivates workers—it can also add an element of gamification to the process, giving mobile workers benchmarks and incentives with which to continually increase their performance. Warehouses will center on access to these real-time productivity KPIs in combination with inventory visibility for a complete picture of warehouse performance, all free of the four walls and extended to wherever (and whenever) business is happening.
The warehouse of the future is one that includes the customer and not only encourages their participation, but also meets their demands for access and action. Accommodating mid-order changes will no longer be a supply chain novelty—instead, customers will expect the capabilities to modify their purchase at any point in the process and from any device. There are also growing regulatory and consumer demands for information transparency traced all the way back to the origins of many classes of products. True visibility across the supply chain involves the customer and places them in the center of the warehouse without walls.
It’s one thing to talk about what the warehouse of the future can do, but the important question is how you introduce this model into your organization. The warehouse of the future is powered by the digital supply chain, building on capabilities like end-to-end execution, control and agility—and if you’re ready to work in the warehouse of the future, we can make that aspiration a reality.