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10 Trends in Warehouse Automation You Need to Know Now

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10 Trends in Warehouse Automation You Need to Know Now

March 22, 2022

Open Sky Group recently hosted a webinar on major advances in technology that are currently impacting warehouse management and productivity. The panel, composed of thought leaders Ian Drummond and Jeremy Hudson from Open Sky Group, Jhordan Gil from Blue Yonder and Saj Kumar from Microsoft, highlighted 10 emerging trends that are shaping the way warehouses will be run in the foreseeable future. Here’s the list:

  1. Technology now conforms to business: For years, it used to be the other way around. Not anymore. The field of supply chain warehouse automation now offers so many options, you can choose those that best serve your business – from simplistic, automated, bolt-to-the-ground conveyance technology, to automated guided vehicles (AGV), autonomous mobile robots (AMR), full-blown automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and more.
  2. It takes a coordinated autonomy platform: Supply chain software has evolved to accommodate the fast-moving ecommerce model, serving to the benefit of all supply chain businesses. Warehouse automation can come from a wide variety of vendors, meaning warehouse, labor and transportation management systems (WMS, LMS and TMS) must now interact to coordinate all tasks, robotic or otherwise, inside and outside of an organization.
  3. SaaS as the long-term support model: With so many moving parts in play, long-term support is best managed on the cloud, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become the preferred means of operating. Few enterprises have the wherewithal to employ the IT staff it takes to sustain operations otherwise. Once a system goes live, the best way to maintain it is as-a-service.
  4. Automation drives software development: As warehouse automation continues to prove itself in practice, innovators are introducing new autonomous concepts that software developers must accommodate to remain relevant. Integrations must be thought out beforehand, as new capabilities come online. The ability to orchestrate both humans and machines over the long-haul hinges on open software design and flexible operating infrastructure.
  5. Get ready for RaaS: Just as SaaS created new efficiencies in the warehouse, Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) is bringing economy-of-scale to modern, hybrid warehouse environments. Consumption-based robotics contracting of software and hardware on an as-needed basis will save the industry millions in CapEx and OpEx over the coming years, while also making operations infinitely more flexible.
  6. WMS as orchestrator: Harmonizing all this technology is the key to success moving forward. A well-designed, tier one WMS that has been designed to accommodate complex integrations and manage cross-functional operations can place all activities on a single screen, greatly simplifying warehouse management. For best results, test your vision beforehand using a simulator. Will that HoloLens augmented reality tool at every station really earn its keep? Or is it better relegated as a one-off training tool? Look before you leap. Simulate before you go live.
  7. The new “co-botic” environment: Robots and humans really can work together. The new “co-botic” warehouse will combine automated technology with human intelligence in a collaborative effort orchestrated on a master screen that integrates all moving parts. The end game? Huge ROI.
  8. LMS solves the labor challenge: With labor shortages still lingering from the first wave of COVID, operators must not only supplement their warehouse staff with automation, but also find ways to get the most out of the talent at hand. Modern labor management systems (LMS) have been shown to improve employee retention and satisfaction by shedding light on what matters, how it gets measured and gamifying priorities to incentivize productivity and performance.
  9. The consumable WMS: As the industry moves away from the monolithic, stand-alone warehouse management systems (WMS) of the past, consumable services are filling in. Bits and pieces of functionality, such as e-plus robotics, AGVs and AMRs are now being deployed individually as part of a larger tailored solution by providers who sell these services through subscription, with full integrations available right out of the box.
  10. Everything’s about transparency: The most important factor in meeting customer needs is transparency. Give a customer real-time visibility into where their package is in the pick-pack-ship cycle, when it will be delivered and, if the shipment is disrupted, clear options to solve the issue, and you will earn that customer’s trust. Transparency, alongside prompt, accurate fulfillment, is the new world order. And it takes intelligent automation to make that happen.

 

Whether you are operating a captive warehouse for a name brand of limited SKUs, or a broad-based 3PL managing shipments and inventory for multiple customers across a broad geography, it is possible to improve throughput, accuracy and efficiency with the right warehouse automation tuned specifically to your enterprise.

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich

CEO

Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.