Warehouses and DCs will continue to implement technology-based material handling solutions in 2019 as they strive to work faster, smarter, and with fewer human resources. And though the use of futuristic technologies such as drones and augmented reality is on the horizon, most experts agree that the major trend in the year ahead will be the expanded use of more recently proven technologies—such as goods-to-person fulfillment systems—that can deliver the best return on investment (ROI).
A surge in e-commerce sales and the resulting need to meet omnichannel fulfillment demands is driving much of the change across the warehousing and logistics industry, and it's certainly a driver in goods-to-person fulfillment, says Marvin Logan, vice president of consulting services for systems integrator Bastian Solutions. A shift to smaller orders containing multiple stock-keeping units (SKUs) has changed the picking landscape for many organizations, he says, pushing them toward processes and technologies that can reduce a worker's travel time, improve overall productivity levels, and minimize errors.
With goods-to-person fulfillment, machines retrieve products and bring them directly to the picker, eliminating the need for the worker to roam the aisles to collect items for an order. Technologies range from simple conveyor-based systems to more complex automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), as well as robotic solutions. As technology advances, the goods-to-person landscape is expanding with even more choices, Logan adds.
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