Warehouse Management Trends 2019

Every year brings new technology and advancements that help make industries more productive and efficient, and the warehousing industry is no different. When we look back at the warehouse trends that shaped 2019, we see the year delivered vast innovations that greatly improved how the warehousing industry operates. 2019 brought improvements to small order distribution with 3PL warehouses making two-day delivery, or shorter, the norm.

Int'l Park of Commerce

How Industry Trends Influence Modern Warehousing

Modern warehousing is more complex than ever. From meeting increasingly tight delivery expectations to handling distribution on a global scale, today’s warehouses experience high pressure to perform day in and day out.

In 2019, the warehouse industry saw emerging trends in two primary areas: integrative software and automation. The former emerged because of technological advances, while the latter increased more out of necessity than anything else.

Integrative Software Fuels Warehouse Capabilities

Of all the trends, software and technology arguably impact the capabilities of warehouses the most. One of the biggest tech trends of 2019 was the implementation of machine learning systems. Thanks to machine learning, a warehouse management system can now detect potential problems and adjust allocation accordingly without human intervention. This all happens in real time, thus improving the warehouse’s productivity and efficiency.

Another recent integrative software innovation that made an impact was intelligent waving/batch picking. With this technology, a warehouse can meet the fulfillment needs of the fast-paced e-commerce space with the ability to interject rush orders while pushing out a wave.

Voice-tasking capabilities became more common in the warehouse industry in 2019. Smart assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, found their way into a wide range of connected devices. The warehouse industry uses the same type of voice-driven interface to manage its workflow. Voice-controlled mobile devices now offer hands-free operation for a variety of common shipping functions, including picking and packing.

Labor Shortages Increase Automation Into 2020

Another major warehouse trend in 2019 was an increased reliance on robotics and automated processes. One of the main reasons for the increase was because the industry experienced a labor shortage as a result of the country’s stronger labor market. This, coupled with the growing complexity of filling smaller orders faster, caused modern warehouses to embrace such devices as collaborative warehouse robots (cobots) to help meet the many fulfillment needs.

The increase in robotics and automated processes in the warehouse is expected to continue into 2020 and beyond, especially as vendors introduce new capabilities and functionalities into their systems. In many ways, a warehouse environment is an ideal setting for robotics and automation because of the repetitive and rote tasks. Further, with human errors increasing costs for companies, adopting these technologies is a cost-effective way to mitigate mistakes and increase accuracy across the board.