The warehouses and industrial equipment plants of tomorrow will look different than they do today. Manufacturing technology continues to evolve as companies look to reduce their costs without sacrificing the overall quality of their products and services.

What Will Industrial Equipment Plants Look Like in the Next Decade?
What Will Industrial Equipment Plants Look Like in the Next Decade?

David Madden, Founder & Owner | Container Exchanger

The warehouses and industrial equipment plants of tomorrow will look different than they do today. Manufacturing technology continues to evolve as companies look to reduce their costs without sacrificing the overall quality of their products and services. 

Automation is leading the warehouse revolution. Managers have discovered they can sustain their operations with fewer workers. Studies show the global warehouse automation market will grow more than 2x from $13 billion in 2018 to $27 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.7 percent between 2019 and 2025.

Some warehouses have already been fully automated, creating what are known as “lights out” facilities where there are no workers present. The company can then turn off the lights, heat and air conditioning to save money while the robots toil away in the dark. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s our future whether we like it or not. 

So, what can we expect from the warehouses of the future? Let’s take a look:

 

Research and Development

Everyone wants to manufacture the next great product. From pharmaceuticals to the next smartphone, companies are using sophisticated 3-D designs to create the products of the future. Instead of hammering out the details in the real world, companies are using 3-D printers and virtual software to design the perfect product before bringing it to life. Mass production doesn’t leave a lot of room for trial and error, so companies need to make sure the design is foolproof before sending it out for shipment. 

Competition for research and development talent will only heat up in the years ahead. Expect more companies to outsource the process by collaborating with experienced designers or third-party manufacturers. Thanks to the latest technology, some companies and designers will have the advantage as their products rise to the top of the pack. The products of tomorrow will be much more complicated than they are today. From the Internet of Things and wearable tech to sustainable manufacturing, some products will be inherently better than others. 

New R&D technology is changing the way we think about quality control. These machines are shockingly precise with the ability to identify the slightest imperfection. This will make it harder for small and new companies to leverage their products in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

Robotic machine vision system in phone factory

Source: asharkyu/Shutterstock.com

Manufacturing in Real-Time

Storage costs are going up year after year. From unused inventory to incoming products and supplies, the facilities of the future won’t have nearly as many products on-site as they do today. Technology is changing inventory management for the better. To reduce on-site storage, companies are using AI and automation to limit the number of items on the shelf. 

As we move forward, expect to see more companies using technology to bring items into the facility when they’re needed and not a moment sooner. Robots and workers can put these items and supplies to good use as soon as they come through the door. This eliminates the need for product picking, sorting and storage. 

In the future, products and supplies will be kept off-site to make more room for the manufacturing process. Employees can focus on the task at hand without worrying about whether they have everything they need. This requires tracking products and inventory in real-time and coordinating with different locations. Based on previous demand, machines will start moving supplies to the manufacturing center before the order has even been placed so it can go out for delivery that same day.

 

Infection Control

The coronavirus pandemic did a number on the manufacturing industry. Companies large and small were already shifting toward automation, but COVID-19 was the tipping point. As the virus started to spread, in-person workers were asked to stay home to limit the spread of infection. Employers looking to bring their workers on-site had to comply with strict health regulations to make sure they weren’t putting their team at risk. This includes screening for symptoms and illness, asking staff to stay at home if they test positive for COVID-19 or have been around someone infected, compensating workers for sick leave and finding replacements on short notice.

We won’t have to worry about these issues going forward. Limiting the number of workers on-site reduces the spread of illness. Warehouses will continue to look for ways to replace human workers with machines to keep their operating costs as low as possible. Machines don’t need to quarantine. They also don’t need sick pay if they go offline. 

Managers will also get in the habit of screening their employees to limit the spread of illness. This means equipping workers with real-time tracking devices to monitor their location and document possible exposure, rearranging the space to keep workers farther apart on the floor and limiting the number of humans in the space. 

In Factory Workshop: Workers Use High-Tech Industrial CNC Machinery, Robot Arm. Inside Office: Digital Engineering Professional Working on Personal Computer, Designing 3D Component in CAD Software

Source: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

Running on Data

As these trends continue to take effect, every warehouse will need access to accurate, reliable data. This will be considered the lifeblood of any facility. Managers will depend on data when reviewing their operations. Instead of checking in with the supervisor or checking with clients over the phone, everyone will have access to the same interface so they can monitor their performance in real-time. 

The data will affect virtually every decision in the space. Managers will need to find software programs that analyze the data so they can make sense of it in a matter of seconds. Warehouse management systems will also get better at predicting the future, helping teams prepare for challenges before they appear.

As the warehouse industry continues to evolve, making sense of all these changes can be overwhelming. Focus on what’s most important to the success of your company without spending a fortune on the latest technology. Use industrial wire baskets to reduce confusion in the workplace by keeping your inventory visible. To limit the spread of disease, look for bulk hand sanitizer for sale so your employees can stay healthy on the job. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve efficiency. Keep these changes in mind as we look towards the future of warehousing.

 
 
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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