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Top warehouse technology trends for 2022

Big opportunities for warehouse automation, warehouse automation systems and more

November 23, 2021

Top warehouse technology trends for 2022
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, modern warehouses are undergoing a facelift. They’ve been battling to meet the rising demands of e-commerce for some time, but the pandemic sent their mission into overdrive.
Aside from massive growth, warehouses are also dealing with new consumer expectations. With more and more people ordering items online rather than venturing to a store, they’re demanding rapid delivery and easy returns.
To keep up with the current marketplace, warehouses and distribution centers need to operate more efficiently (and cost effectively) than ever. Fortunately the latest smart warehouse technology can help them make big strides.
Here are four warehouse technology trends that can dramatically improve a warehouse’s productivity and bottom line:
1. Warehouse automation – The majority of distribution centers still operate with a manual workforce and have a limited labor pool. To make up for the labor shortage, growing number of SKUs and rising e-commerce orders, they have an immediate need for robotics and warehouse automation solutions. It’s a broad category, but solutions include anything that replaces or augments the work humans do, including high-density automated storage and retrieval systems, carousels, vertical lift modules, collaborative robots and other fulfillment solutions. These solutions can increase throughput and improve automation, which can speed delivery time.
2. Warehouse management systems (WMS) – Because these systems manage all the moving parts inside the warehouse, they’re becoming increasingly important as more organizations digitize their distribution centers. WMS can include a wide variety of applications, including inventory management, order picking, put-away tasks, replenishment, shipping and even labor management. They can either be run as standalone systems, or can be integrated with order management systems, third-party logistics providers and ERP systems. The bottom line: These systems’ ability to increase productivity and lower costs makes them critical components in most companies’ success.  
3. Voice-activated technology – To help pickers do more work in less time, an increasing number of companies are trading conventional scanning for voice-activated or voice-picking technology (also known as pick by voice). Using a headset, microphone, mobile device and sometimes a barcode scanner, workers get easy-to-understand voice prompts that direct them to picking locations and instruct them in picking tasks. This technology improves worker safety because employees can focus on their jobs while keeping their hands free. Voice-picking technology can easily integrate with the warehouse management system, making implementation simple.
4. Machine learning – Labor is one of the most critical resources in any warehouse, but efficient labor planning has become extremely complex. It’s hard to plan around the wide variety of inbound freight deliveries, supply chain disruptions and the increased number of SKUs. Distribution giants like Amazon have reaped vast rewards with labor planning systems that rely on machine learning. Many of today’s companies are starting to follow suit. Why? Machine learning can greatly improve labor productivity, leading to improved service and lower costs. Machine learning-based labor planning systems typically integrate with warehouse management systems, but can also work with ERP and transportation management systems for more end-to-end visibility.
To learn more about how warehouse automation and other smart technology can improve efficiency for your customers, contact the Ingram Micro DC/POS team today.