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What is The Future for the Warehouse

As the warehouse and logistics industry continues to develop and grow, 2024 is set to bring another wave of new system developments that can deliver positive impacts for customers and businesses alike. In recent years, the pace of new technologies has quickly developed, and uptake has moved swiftly. So, why the sudden change?

When the pandemic hit a few years ago, the world of digital sales became king and it’s not giving up its position easily. Peak e-commerce hit in 2021 and, although the figures have dropped slightly in the last couple of years, they are still holding strong with levels comparable to the first surge in 2020. This sudden shift led logistics companies towards viewing adaptions for their warehouses that could meet demand, improve the process while also keeping safety in focus.

Staying ahead of the curve and understanding how new trends could impact your business is key and this is where Whittan can help. With over 70 years’ worth of experience working with storage solutions we can combine our knowledge of the latest systems to deliver an ideal solution for your warehouse. These are some of the trends that you might want to consider in 2024.


Warehouse Trend 1 – Adapting to Logistic Challenges

The boom in online sales has undoubtedly delivered huge opportunities for the logistics and warehouse industry. Gone are the days when a warehouse was only for stock placed on a traditional pallet racking structure. Nowadays your storage system needs to become multi-functional. One which can create areas for picking and packing orders, managing returns, and holding specialised stock while also making your space flexible.

The challenges are varied, yet your racking, as the backbone to your business, should be flexible and adaptable enough to deal with the ‘what next’ situation. Here are some of the top three logistics challenges businesses usually want to overcome:

  • Challenge 1: Demand for space. When online sales surged following the pandemic, the logistics industry desperately needed increased storage capacity. Demand quickly outstripped supply leaving warehouse owners struggling to find the space to store additional stock.  Finding the right facility in the right location is still a problem for many businesses yet one that is not always necessary. We always advise businesses to first look at your space and storage system, there are usually plenty of adaptions that can make a big difference.
  • Challenge 2: The need for speed. Customers have become impatient, and it is now an expectation to receive orders quicker than ever. This increases pressures in the warehouse to deliver rapid processing times while maintaining accuracy and on top of that keep costs down.  Problems in the journey of the stock, which were easy to ignore before, suddenly become painful issues. Make the process seamless and it will improve the throughput of your stock.
  • Challenge 3: Order diversity. It would be easy if all your stock came in the same weight and size, yet as trends in products move on apace the stock you need to store is also rapidly changing. To meet the changing profile of products, logistics companies need to remain agile. This requires storage solutions that are designed for the space but with the ability to adapt to fluctuating stock demands, varying quantities and product profiles.


Warehouse Trend 2 – Warehouse Flexibility

Gone are the days when a unit provided stock for one logistics company. Now warehouse spaces have become multi-functional and their usage requirements are also developing. Storage equipment manufacturers need to meet the growing list of requirements and provide flexible systems that deliver on flexibility.

First, the size of warehouse units has changed with anything from a mega-shed and a dark warehouse right through to a small unit for last-mile delivery that increases the sustainability of your business. The storage system you need for your large holding warehouse will be very different to the micro-hub you have planned on the outskirts of a city. To create cohesion, your racking and storage solution must work for both, very different, types of units and support your processes in each location.

The space within your warehouse has also changed. Now the area must become multi-functional with zoned areas to handle the processing of orders and, with growing e-commerce, the inevitable higher rate of returns.  Effective processes must be in place to minimise wastage and maintain margins. Modular storage systems are needed which can adapt and potentially grow as the space and your company requirements dictate, but they should also create distinct areas for different tasks. Maybe you need a multi-tiered structure with processing and return areas on each floor. Do you need to split the warehouse into distinct zones for processing online sales and another for storing retail stock? Perhaps you need to increase capacity with high-density storage or partition your warehouse to sub-divide the space.

With a knowledgeable supplier, almost anything is possible as long as they have a high level of technical expertise and products which can meet your current and future needs.


Warehouse Trend 3: Automation, Robotics and AI

Automation and robotics are not a new concept in warehouses but, with a shortage of workers within the industry, they are steadily taking a larger role. With costs lowering and technological advancements in recent years, these systems are becoming a far more attractive option to most warehouse and logistics companies.

As with any racking, the design of the storage equipment must address the same key requirements including utilising the footprint of the building, optimising the throughput of stock and improving processes. However, when adding in automation, the design will need additional considerations to ensure the new technology works smoothly with your system and delivers the promised outcome.

Does the racking have appropriate structural stability to support the additional height and loading weight? Are robot maintenance areas required and where will they go? Has the racking design allowed for clearances during movement? Does the area incorporate safe working zones for your employees? Get it right and you can merge the technologies to work safely alongside your employees and easily deliver a warehouse that is far more streamlined and efficient.


Warehouse Trend 4: Sustainability

Fostering sustainable practices is now a core value for most businesses. With nearly half of the UK’s carbon footprint attributed to emissions associated with imports, implanting best practices at the very start of your warehouse journey is key to shaking up the industry.

Obvious strategies such as implementing energy-efficient lighting, adopting renewable energy sources or investing in eco-friendly packaging and recycling programmes are already a main factor in most warehouse designs. However, there are other considerations most owners should consider.

A good place to start is by asking where your racking has come from? A lot of storage systems are manufactured abroad which racks up the travel miles. As a UK-based manufacturer, Whittan not only has the capacity to provide everything you need for your warehouse but, with shorter distances to travel, we can also significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, by manufacturing in-house we can manage the quality of our equipment, reduce lead times and ensure you project is delivered, installed and maintained correctly to deliver on the longevity of your system.


How can Whittan help?

If you’re looking to implement a new trend into your warehouse in 2024, why not get in touch with Whittan.

We are continually developing and keeping an eye on the market so that we can implement the latest warehouse and storage trends as they emerge. With over 70 years’ worth of experience within the industry you can be sure that we will design a tailor-made storage solution that delivers on efficiency and productivity for your business. Plus, with our wide range of products and systems we have everything you need for a turnkey solution that will maximise your space and increase safety.

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