In November 2020 36 per cent of retail sales were made online in November, up almost 20 percent from February of the same year. UK consumers spent £141 billion online in 2020, up a massive 34.7% (£105bn) from 2019 with additional growth predicted over the next 5 years. Every extra £1bn spent online needs around another 1 million square feet of logistics space so it’s not hard to see why COVID crisis triggered a boom in the sector that has most investors looking for warehouse opportunities and saw huge deals like Blackstone’s £473m acquisition of Prologis’ platform!

To cope with the increased volume technology in the sector is also undergoing huge transformation including IoT innovations and adoption to maximise effectiveness of ‘just in time’, smart labelling, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence and blockchain traceability. Connectivity, whether it’s 4G, 5G or wireless is improving as well as systems and use cases develop to produce smart improvements in communication, connected tools & tracking.

Top innovations in the sector include:

  1. Warehouse management systems which may include inventory management, which typically can increase productivity and lower costs. The best ones integrate with order management systems, third-party logistics systems and even ERP;
  2. Automation Technology optimise warehouse space by automating storage & retrieval systems by optimising picking & labor productivity and integrate with warehouse management systems, logistics & transport tech;
  3. Labour planning machine learning which predicts the future work requirement and so can optimise man-hours, one of the most expensive resources in warehouse management. The machine learning system can integrate with warehouse management system, ERP & transport systems;
  4. Voice activated systems for the picking / warehouse manager – these improve accuracy & efficiency because pickers can do more work in less time in a safer way by keeping their hands free. Voice-activated systems can integrate with the warehouse management system or the ERP system;
  5. Solar & renewable energies for power to the building. Excess power can be sold back to the grid.

All these systems need to connect – Electronic Media Services are hosting an event on Exploring Connectivity in Logistics, Digital Warehouses of the Future at 3-4pm on Thursday 18 March 2021 which will outline the difference between Wi-Fi 6 vs 5G & 4G, adoption & encouraging digital transformation and practical examples, interested parties can sign up for free by clicking this link or the button below.