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A warehouse fit for the future of retail - how automation transforms your business

By : Tod Hummert

October 02, 2017 08:00 AM

The retail sector has been undergoing one of the most dramatic transformations in the last few years, driven by changes in consumer behavior and new technologies.  Digital shopping, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data all promise to give businesses more visibility and control over their operations and the ability to personalize the experience they deliver to consumers.

 

While the most visible results are the new ways in which consumers shop, it may be behind-the-scenes that holds the greatest potential for leveraging technology to make a difference. In the warehouse, for example, automation, mobility and voice-enabled tools can transform warehouse operations to speed time to delivery and improve fulfillment accuracy.

 

An up-to-date warehouse management system helps businesses manage their labor more effectively, reduce costs and reduce the time taken to move orders through the process and into the hands of customers. Having full visibility across the supply chain helps retailers develop more efficient workflows, boost overall productivity, and improve maintenance operations by forecasting and predicting where issues may arise and being proactive in addressing them.

 

Solutions for efficiency
Among the innovations now available are voice-enabled solutions that direct warehouse labor throughout daily tasks to help optimize warehouse productivity. A newer development is a pallet jack that lights up the pallet position to place the selected product.  This gives the selector a visual cue as to which pallet to physically place the product, thereby reducing the opportunity of misplacing the product. NCR solutions in this area can help reduce errors by up to 80 percent, while also boosting productivity up to 50 percent per piece.

 

Elsewhere in the warehouse, mobility tools and wearable technology help give both managers as well as workers on the floor visibility into product traceability, order fulfillment status, the movement of resources throughout the warehouse, and automated alerts. This technology helps users make better decisions about how they manage their time and activities to boost productivity and optimize the use of warehouse space.

 

Automation: Realizing potential in the retail warehouse
When it comes to retail warehouse productivity, automation solutions offer a huge potential. For example, replacing manual labor planning with automated systems saves time and ensures the most efficient routing and lowest operational costs. Meanwhile, moving from inefficient, paper-based inventory management to digital alternatives makes life easier for employees, while automated storage retrieval and put-away systems are also hugely valuable to the business.

 

Modern technology can help retailers of all sizes. For smaller companies still heavily reliant on manual processes, embracing automation can free up resources and mark a key first step on the transition to a modern, digital-oriented business. For larger companies, tools such as directed put-away and replenishment can help keep busy warehouses running smoothly and ease much of the hassle associated with resource planning. Regardless of company size, one of the biggest challenges for warehouse managers is increasing the speed of processes without sacrificing accuracy. Automation can achieve this goal, making warehouses faster, more effective, and with greater visibility and traceability.

 

Any time an organization can utilize automation, productivity will go up, and accuracy will go up – and therefore efficiency within the warehouse is going to go up. In today’s environment, where every business is seeking to reduce costs and increase margins, these are results anyone can get behind.

Tod Hummert

Solution Manager for NCR's Warehouse Management Solution

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With a passion for the supply chain industry and more than 25 years with NCR, he brings deep expertise in optimizing processes and procedures to drive business results. Tod helps our customers improve efficiency and productivity utilizing both his technical background as well as his operational understanding and focus.