The ongoing evolution of the systems involved in supply chain and logistics management continues. Businesses that have had to quickly pivot to deal with Covid-related realities are also taking the time to analyze other areas of their operation to find efficiencies and better tools. For 3PL companies, that includes keeping up with warehouse automation trends. Change is inevitable, so knowing what’s coming is important for all businesses in the supply chain and logistics industry including heavy haul trucking companies.
The 3PL industry is a like a big line of dominos – all it takes is a little shift in thinking and the reverberations are felt all down the line. Many large retail and distribution centres are looking to a future of automation that will incorporate everything from artificial intelligence and robotics to intelligent routing. For 3PL providers that work with large shipping and heavy machinery transport companies, optimizing workflows and improving administration is simply the first step. As warehouses grow to accommodate increasing demands and higher volumes, 3PL customers will no doubt be expecting more accountability, efficiency and capabilities from their 3PL providers.
Arranging heavy equipment shipping in Canada is a common responsibility for many 3PL companies. However, for 3PL providers operating warehouses, the best way to meet a wide variety of customer needs is with a real time, customer-focused portal. This will give customers a better overall service experience, reducing the time their service teams spend trying to communicate with 3PL providers and also putting more information at their fingertips. Labour costs in the warehousing industry are on the rise, especially in ones using antiquated technologies for picking and packing. Warehouses should be exploring all the possible technologies available to help modernize workflows and processes. Simple things, like the implementation of mobile barcode scanners used to assign jobs, direction warehouse users to locations and complete batch picks, represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to automation tools.
Warehouse operators, especially 3PL warehouses, need to become more efficient and competitive. They can no longer waste time trying to calculate how much they should be charging customers long after their billing period is over. They need to be proactive, and automating will be necessary. They need to master simple things, like scanning to ensure warehouse teams pick the right items, pack, weigh and ship them while capturing all the charges necessary to make money. Warehouse automation may seem like a big ticket item, but it’s a necessary cost of doing business in an industry that’s rapidly evolving. A warehouse management system that can streamline all areas of the operation will be an important asset for any 3PL warehouse that plants to be operating in the future.
For 3PL providers working with a variety of carriers including heavy haul trucking companies, automation will be a gamechanger. All it takes is the will of management to get ahead of the curve and start implementing automated features to improve the operation.