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The Future of Warehouses & Distribution Centers Heading Toward 2018

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Motorola Solutions has released a new report entitled, “Warehousing 2018: From Cost Center to Growth Center” wherein they define and predict the changes expected in the industry. Among their predictions, distribution centers are expected to get bigger, while the use of cross docking and task interleaving is expected to be on the rise. The report was compiled from a survey of warehouse IT and operations workers in the manufacturing, retail, wholesale and third-party logistics segments. 

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The study identified a number of trends, none of which were particular surprising, but most of which are quite challenging. Thirsty five percent of the companies which participated in the survey plan to increase the number of distribution centers they own and operate over the next five years, while 38 percent plan to increase the size of their current facilities. Fifty four percent expect the number of SKUs they carry or manage, with only 10.7 percent of the respondents expecting to lower the number of SKUs they handle.

Forty eight percent of respondents indicate plans o up their use of task interleaving, a process which involves putting pallets away with full replenishment. Fifty one percent of responding companies expect that inventory turns will increase, with only only 7 percent believing their inventory turns will decrease. This is going to be a significant challenge in light of the larger number of SKUs to manage.

These changes are expected to put pressure on distribution center operations, requiring a greater level of support technology to maintain the current level of performance in a more challenging environment. Companies are in need of high level warehouse management systems and wireless terminals, including voice systems for operators of these warehouses and distribution centers. Motorola Solutions is pushing for a “flawless fulfillment” goal, which includes a perfect solution for the future of logistics. [/show_to]

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