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Is Warehouse Automation Following the Increase In e-Commerce Demands?



e-Commerce is increasingly expanding across the world, resulting in a paradigm shift throughout the retail environment, thus forcing retailers, suppliers, logistics providers, and producers to widen and modify fulfilment operations.


As a result of these iterations and the accompanying autonomous integrations, sales are increasing.



Fulfilment Demand


The move to e-commerce evolved faster than both distributors and warehousing automation technologies first imagined.


Retail e-commerce is around $400 billion annually and has grown annually at an average rate of 15% YoY. There is an expansion in e-commerce revenue in the US alone by more than $50 trillion per annum. Yearly US sales in electronic commerce have doubled since 2012. The rapid increase in e-commerce has resulted in higher standards for direct consumption throughout and many other improvements in end-to-end operations.



High Demand Automated Warehouse Features


Order quantities in the e-commerce world continue to increase exponentially, and with today's e-commerce industry's high growth and flexible features, retailers and other logistics providers are searching for more adaptable and flexible solutions.


As a general rule, consumer goods products are in high demanded, thus increasing the need for iterative modular and scalable automation software solutions.


Logistics providers engage in proprietary systems that seemingly sync with their current business model and can quickly adapt to facilities and procedures while simultaneously accommodating the fluctuating requirements resulting from short-term contractual arrangements.



Growing Uncertainty and Accelerated Change



Retailers face an accelerating speed of transition that is creating uncertainty around compliance requirements.


For current e-commerce warehousing automation processes, adaptability is now a major prerequisite.


Retailers must be willing to respond to a variety of situations in a rapidly changing environment. Michael Pietras, SSI Schaefer Systems Executive Sales Manager goes even further to say that, "Customers need a wider range of stocks, more exclusive products and more comfort. Traditional automation systems can transfer individual parts to a certain route and then move the product to delivery, but the number of shipments that go out is too much for the device if you moved one million units per day."


The next logical step will be to select and organize products for order consolidation into batches. This limits the number of shipments at once and enables you to place further orders in a shorter timeframe.



Completion Time Compressed


The retail market has significantly shortened order completion times. Speedy distribution has become a customer standard. These pressures significantly impacted the requirements of warehouse automation.


Kevin Reader of Knapp has noted that buyers have come to them and in an hour half to receive orders in their warehouses with insufficient personnel. These quick turnaround times for batch picking principles are also imperative to ongoing sustainability in these current market conditions.

Consumers are now consistently looking for more agile service offerings such as shuttle services.


  • The use of warehousing automation will help to improve the productivity of e-commerce real estate by 10 to 20% in the next three years, according to Prologis' estimation. The model regards a 'base' scenario that maintains an automation acceleration and a 'stretched' situation, which is doubled in acceptance.

  • Researchers have observed that the degree of increased efficiency differs between various forms of automation. The more efficiency gains are provided by automated storage and recovery systems and the smaller the changes can be achieved by mobile or semi-mobile automation.

  • "It is about to improve order quality, to speed up order delivery and to maximize the use of your human talents," Prologis global research director Melinda McLaughlin said of improving productivity automation.


"The logistic room shortages have been around in most industries in the U.S. for many years," McLaughlin said. She added the increased difficulty in finding space closer to urban centers.


To accelerate performance and distribution, e-Commerce firms have been gradually trying to create customer-friendly fulfilment options.


However, as existing installations become more profitable, that increased implementation of automation could reduce requirements for industrial property.


Increased competitiveness, Amazon, in eCommerce compliance automation is one of the key advantages of its Robotics investment. Robotics, according to the New York Times (NYT), increased the total amount of products selected every hour for Amazon from 100 to about 400.


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References

  • Automation in the Warehouse: Asset or Obstacle? | IndustryWeek (no date). Available at: https://www.industryweek.com/supply-chain/warehousing-and-distribution/article/22022512/automation-in-the-warehouse-asset-or-obstacle (Accessed: 2 May 2021).

  • Lee, H. Y. and Murray, C. C. (2019) ‘Robotics in order picking: evaluating warehouse layouts for pick, place, and transport vehicle routing systems’, International Journal of Production Research, 57(18), pp. 5821–5841. doi: 10.1080/00207543.2018.1552031.

  • Warehouse automation | Supply Chain Dive (no date). Available at: https://www.supplychaindive.com/trendline/warehouse-automation/133/ (Accessed: 2 May 2021).

  • The Next Wave of Warehouse Automation | Supply and Demand Chain Executive (no date). Available at: https://www.sdcexec.com/warehousing/article/21097143/the-next-wave-of-warehouse-automation (Accessed: 2 May 2021).

  • E-commerce warehouse productivity could improve up to 20% with greater automation: Prologis | Supply Chain Dive (no date). Available at: https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/ecommerce-warehouse-productivity-prologis-robot-automation-prologis/594728/ (Accessed: 2 May 2021).

  • How Warehouse Automation is Enabling the E-Commerce Explosion - Logistics Viewpoints (no date). Available at: https://logisticsviewpoints.com/2018/01/24/warehouse-automation-enabling-e-commerce-explosion/ (Accessed: 2 May 2021).


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