How to Generate ROI with a Smart Warehouse

30th Apr 2021

The Supply-Chain for many businesses has become increasingly constrained due to increased consumer demand, often wanting next-day or even same-day delivery of their goods. The factors global industry experienced throughout 2020, and into 2021, have significantly impacted the supply-chain as we knew it - with Covid-19 creating challenges relating to movement of people and product, alongside an uncertain future following the UK's decision to leave the EU – with December 2020 seeing several European closures of borders with the UK, including France - the primary artery for incoming continental produce.

A recent study by the Aberdeen Group found that around 60% of modern warehouses still employ traditional paper-based systems to manage and control their warehouse environments. I’m sure you’ve had to read that statistic twice as its absolutely staggering. Given this staggering statistic, we’ve looked at how technology and automation can affect the warehouse environment and what quick wins can be achieved for warehouses and distribution centres who embrace the shift to a tech driven, automated environment.

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Feeling the Pressure
The above factors of Brexit, Covid-19 and the ever highly demanding consumer add to a longer list of challenges faced for the warehouse, including boardroom and investor demand to do more with less in order to improve efficiency, increase performance, enhance productivity, and essentially drive profits up, up and further up. Cutting costs whilst implementing more efficient ways of working have become the catalysts for digital transformation in the warehouse. Introducing technology and automation solutions to remain competitive and survive has moved to the top of the C-Suite essential strategies for 2021. So, what needs to be done?

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The BIG Warehousing Challenges
The Cost of Picking & Packing | Considering that up to 60% of all warehouse costs can be attributed to the picking and packaging process, then the necessity to drive process control and efficiency becomes very clear. Greater speed, improved accuracy, and a reduction in costly human errors are all clear targets for the sector. So, these are the areas of focus in this blog, ‘how to improve operative productivity on the warehouse floor’… and I’m guessing you probably won’t be surprised to know that a combined network infrastructure and mobility data capture strategy sits at the heart of achieving the aim of improved productivity.

Exporting finished goods to the EU/NI post Brexit | Regulatory control is bound to increase as custom regulations are put in place at our docks, which will require better planning of the end-to-end logistics. Deployment of more efficient processes will be required to ensure that goods can leave the Distribution Centre as quickly as possible. Managing the flow of data from all key systems will also become essential, with the Distribution Centre requiring a unified, high performance, resilient network infrastructure

Competing in an increasingly competitive market | With the downturn in the economy due to Covid-19 every customer win is important, and with the competitors always at your heels, finding ways to become more competitive is key to success. It’s not a comfortable thing to say but automation to remove certain job function employee costs can improve productivity, as automation removes manual errors, thus increasing productivity

Dealing with returns | The need for efficient goods handling and replenishment is crucial for an optimised warehouse. A fully integrated data capture and infrastructure solution, combining asset tracking can do the trick.

Instant (same day) fulfilment | There has been a rapid change in consumer shopping habits and behaviours to an ‘online first mentality’, we now expect to receive our goods instantly, which in turn increases the pressure on warehouses and distribution centres and therefore their reliance on adequate systems and processes – which require resilient and connected network infrastructure to ensure performance and help businesses to meet customer demands (and expectation).

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A Technology & Automation ROI
It's clear that technology and automation will improve your teams performance, improve business operational efficiency, empower your workers, reduce costly manual error, keep you competitive in your space and increase your overall productivity; so I guess the 'business case' for tech investment shouldn't be so daunting to do demonstrate ROI and get your board members on-side…. your Finance Director will enjoy calculating the exact business benefit and associated ROI.. and from your part you can bet ROI is significant and that you'll have an infrastructure in place that will see your business acceleration and progress to see you stay ahead in your demanding workplace.

Should you wish to know more about how Ensign help others in your space then reach out and we'll be happy to share our experiences with you to help you drive forward.