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Modernising warehouses with new systems

Modernising warehouses with new systems

23 Mar 2022

As businesses increasingly take on an omnichannel approach to sales, the fulfilment infrastructure within the country will have to be rapidly modernised to keep up with the complexity of multichannel trade.

According to Intelli-Mark business director Tan Hann Yang, channels which were previously under-utilised by the public such as customer-to-store – where customers return their products – and warehouse-to-alternative pick-up locations are now more readily embraced by consumers and retailers.

While this offers consumers more convenience, having diversified channels of distribution can be a double-edged sword for businesses.

“They will inevitably have a harder time trying to locate stocks for each channel given the additional layers of management that the warehouse would then have to carry,” says Tan.

This will be even more cumbersome for warehouses that still rely on manual processes, which could lead to inefficiencies and complicated communication to relay timely information on stocks.

“In order to prevent these issues, warehouse modernisation, which is a concept that has already been popularly adopted in other markets, is slowly gaining traction among the South-East Asian business scene.

“In implementing warehouse modernisation solutions, businesses are essentially adopting a contemporary approach through working collaboratively with different technologies to achieve optimised work automation in warehouses,” he explains.

Among such technologies include the warehouse management system, which acts as a system of record that provides visibility into a business’ entire inventory and effectively manages operations across its multitude of distribution channels.

Automation is a vital aspect of warehouse modernisation and could, perhaps, be the ultimate goal of many existing warehouses today, Tan adds.

“Having the day-to-day operations performed by an artificial intelligence or robotic system essentially makes each warehouse a self-sufficient and self-functioning contributor to the overall supply chain.”

One of the main reasons why modernisation efforts for many warehouses have been delayed can be attributed to the pre-pandemic times when eCommerce had yet to take off in a big way.

Tan says many so-called modern businesses still relied on traditional systems of record-keeping such as spreadsheets and written documents.

But with eCommerce booming, this will have to change.

Warehouse modernisation comes in stages, and at each phase, the business should tweak and implement the use of technology according to the specific needs of their operations.

What’s important, he adds, is that warehouse operators continuously upgrade their facilities to future-proof their businesses as technology advances. This will ensure that they not only keep up with trends but also be able to leverage the efficiencies and productivity afforded by technology to grow their operations and profitability.

“In the foreseeable future, warehouse modernisation will involve enhanced data intelligence systems interlinked simultaneously with their respective companies to provide data analytics that uncover deployable methods to improve warehouse functions.

“The kind of data collected will also be more insightful and relevant, providing companies the ability to identify or predict changes that may be of concern to the overall profitability of the business such as potential supply shortages and changing buyer habits,” he says.

Intelli-Mark specialises in digital delivery skills such as workforce, cloud and cybersecurity transformation.

Source: The Star