Getting Smart About Automated Intralogistics

warehouse bay feature

Automated intralogistics provide seamless, efficient control of all warehouse devices and robots (credit: Oxana Melis on Unsplash)

The second half of 2023 is seeing U.S. consumer spending on parity with the first half of the year, but still liable for heading down due to competing trends in wage growth and inflation. The challenge is the lag effect between wage growth leading to consumer optimism, and inflationary causes. Once the impact of seasonal job growth and potential wage growth wanes from summer to fall, it’s likely that consumers will pull back on spending.

Consequently, our retail customers are seeing a cautious if downward trending approach to consumer expectations. This is despite the fact that important selling seasons such as back to school and the end-of-year holidays are beginning even earlier this year.

Digital Savvy Consumer Base

With constantly changing customer needs and options, evolving buying habits and continuous supply chain disruption, it’s little wonder that more digitally savvy consumers with sustainability preferences are increasingly factored into operations.

What’s more, labor shortages are ever prevalent, plus operating costs continue to spiral. For these reasons, retailers are increasingly going digital to boost ecommerce and B2B productivity and meet rising expectations for delivery speed and convenience.

Indeed, savvy shippers are introducing automated intralogistics to deliver an enhanced customer experience and secure competitive advantage. They’re also streamlining their business and making warehouse operations as profitable as possible.

Facilitate Faster Order Fulfillment

Fulfillment center automation and robotics address labor and skills issues directly and can facilitate faster order fulfillment with less space. It can also reduce shipping costs and delivery times and optimize inventory management.

However, these technologies need to be rapidly and cost effectively integrated into a retailer tech stack. This is where a multi-agent orchestration platform that is device and technology agnostic switches things up, bringing more uniformity to your fulfillment operations and enabling automated intralogistics.

This approach can provide seamless, efficient control of all warehouse devices and robots. It can also orchestrate and prioritize inbound, outbound and replenishment workflows. Lastly, it automatically allocates tasks, evaluating which robotic devices and technologies best match specific operations, and enables data capture to assess the value each device yields.

Importantly, this approach also allows for buffer creation to delay tasks, handle exception management, and handle real-time switchover if devices are damaged or unavailable. These capabilities also allow users to avoid subsystems for AMR deployment. That approach can increase the total cost of ownership (TCO), complexity and time-to-value for deploying automation.

Conversations with Technology

Most interestingly, bi-directional messaging between the WMS and remote warehouse devices means human decision makers can have a “conversation” with the technology. This enables the most crucial and efficient FC decisions to be made automatically.

To keep pace and stand out from the crowd, retailers who successfully navigate this intelligent automation transformation will best be able to cater to changing customer needs and preferences.

In challenging times, the ability to rapidly augment and orchestrate your technology investments, without unnecessary service fees, has never been more important. It’s now mission critical to harness control with 24/7 visibility from one centralized system.

In the not-too-distant future we can also expect retailers’ ecommerce stores to use augmented reality (AR/VR) to give consumers a more realistic, hands-on view of their products. Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) methods may also incorporate better robotic technologies to help associates fulfill orders and bring them curbside.

Smitha Raphael is Chief Product and Delivery Officer for SnapFulfil, the WMS arm of Synergy Logistics Ltd