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eCommerce Technology: Automating the eCommerce Distribution Center & Warehouse

Across the spectrum of distribution center and warehouse management, eCommerce technology enables faster, more efficient and better order fulfillment operations. Advanced technologies, like advanced conveyor systems, automated guided vehicles (AGV), radio frequency identification (RFID) scanning devices and newer wearables are changing the traditional landscape of distribution centers and warehouses, and your company needs to consider how automation can help improve your operation.

Automation eCommerce Technology Enables Rapid Scalability for Peak Seasons

A common problem among eCommerce distribution center and warehouse operations is found around the holiday shopping season. Extreme spikes in eCommerce seem to break records every year, and today’s warehouses have trouble keeping up with the sudden surges in demand. While temporary workers help, the underlying problem continues to exist. However, automation in eCommerce technology tackles this problem directly, explains Charlie Fiveash of Inbound Logistics. It lets warehouse and distribution centers rapidly scale up or down operations to meet today’s demands.

Materials Handling Robotics and Automated Systems Reduce Traditional Picking and Packaging Costs and Challenges

Materials Handling robotics have been around for decades now. Automating this leg of the manufacturing, storing, picking and packaging process lets warehouse managers focus on overcoming other inefficiencies, and robotics carry nominal risk. In other words, robots have a lower risk of causing injury, boost accuracy to 100 percent and are cheaper now than ever before. As a result, robots are starting to take control of packing processes in e-commerce, but this is not the end-of-days, Terminator-like ideas about robots. It is the use of robotics to improve operations and reduce the workload on humans, says David Z. Morris of Fortune magazine, and in many cases, the so-called “robot apocalypse” will help drive growth among the workforce too.

Automated systems, like automated slot optimization practices, reduce the travel time among pickers. Automated picking technologies, including voice-enabled controls, pick ticket systems, handheld scanners and RFID tags help workers ensure order accuracy too.

Successful Integration of Software Solutions Is Key to Automated Technologies

Amazon can teach warehouse and distribution center managers a thing or two about how to properly integrate eCommerce technology, but that is only the beginning of the conversation. Any use of automated technology means successful integration with existing systems is the prerequisite. In other words, warehouse and distribution center managers must successfully combine existing operations with new technologies to take advantage of such technologies without sacrificing all existing systems. Meanwhile, the most advanced of today’s systems assume certain levels of automation are already used within your facility.

For example, a new warehouse management system (WMS) may rely on automated identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies, such as RFID tags, to manage orders. However, the system will only function. If your existing system currently supports the use of AIDC technologies.

Ultimately, eCommerce technology of the future requires integration today.

What Does It Mean for Your Company?

The opportunity to drastically shrink overhead costs and improve profitability resound throughout eCommerce technology. Automated systems, robotics, and the futuristic drone delivery will push distribution center and warehouse operations to new heights. Also, Amazon and other major retailers have already adopted robotic technologies to help slash picking and packaging costs, explains Amit Bhalya of the Huffington Post, if not eliminate the human labor aspect of picking altogether.