There is some good news for U.S. distributors, as the Commerce Department recently revealed wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in the month of September, according to Reuters. The numbers are a positive sign that the distribution industry is fostering some of the recent economic growth.
As Growth Continues, Warehouses Must Adapt
While a small gain, the increase is indicative of a growing trend among consumers to purchase items wholesale, which means more business for distribution centers. To ensure that warehouses can keep pace with increased demand, supply chain managers should begin considering new technologies that can keep pace with increasing orders.
Supply chain management systems that can increase productivity and reduce costs can be implemented in a number of ways:
- Mobile barcode scanners and software: Mobile barcode scanners can increase the amount of data collection that occurs throughout the warehouse. In some cases, software can integrate with smartphones and other devices that can read 2-D barcodes. This means smarter barcode readers, and can even lead to the adoption of bring-your-own-device practices in warehouse as more employees own smartphones and tablets.
- Voice picking or voice-directed warehousing: Workers in the warehouse can receive and give verbal commands with speech recognition software. The technology provides a hands-free warehouse that is safer as well as more efficient.
- Inventory control software: This software can help warehouse and distribution center managers reduce shrinkage. With more accurate material counts from the receiving department, and better cataloging of inventory data, warehouses can reduce the amount of missing and spoiled stock.
The best way for distributions centers to keep up with increased demand is to stay on top of current technologies. If implementation costs seem high, supply chain managers should crunch the numbers. Inventory shrinkage, inaccurate date, unproductive workers and poor product tracking cost far more.