Honeywell SPS presents warehouse of the future
Talk us through the warehouse of the future, how is it different?
With the rapid increase in e-commerce, there is tremendous pressure on warehouses to process purchase orders for retailers and consumers seamlessly and efficiently. The Middle East e-commerce market is expected to grow to $48.6 billion in 2022, up from an estimated $26.9 billion in 2018*, paving the way for digitalized distribution centers to become the new norm in the future. As a result, many distribution center operations have taken significant steps to transition to a more automated set up to meet the growing demand.
The warehouse of the future will leverage interactive and mobile technology, AI (artificial intelligence), and big data. Introducing IoT (Internet of Things) enabled technology will change the way goods are received, stored, and shipped in a warehouse, ultimately transforming the supply chain. Advanced technology elements such as voice and augmented reality will combine to create a more natural human interface. Robotics will continue to change warehousing solutions, where robots will be able to pick and deliver orders from conventional tracking.
An IoT-enabled distribution center can continuously monitor activities in real time and notify operators when issues arise, such as targets not being met or other errors, so they can make necessary adjustments and allocate resources more efficiently. Honeywell deploys solutions enabling connectivity in a distribution center that improve productivity and reduce costs significantly.
What’s the timeline for these advancements and why do they matter?
Technology helps provide a holistic and connected approach that businesses require to stay competitive and enable seamless digital transformation. From advanced scanning solutions and connected mobile devices, to voice-directed technology, workflow automation tools, robotics solutions and software, these tools, when connected, can gather important data. This data then aids businesses in making more informed decisions, automating processes, guiding workers through their tasks to ultimately help them work faster, smarter and more efficiently, which in turn improves operations.
Regionally, the e-commerce industry is evolving rapidly with large players in the market including Amazon through souq.com and the homegrown noon.com and namshi.com online retailers at the forefront. We are witnessing a rise in e-commerce sales in Gulf countries, owing mostly to drivers including high rates of smartphone and internet penetration in the region. We are already seeing many distribution centers deploy advanced technologies rapidly in line to meet growing consumer demands, and expect this growth to continue at a fast pace over the next few years.
What level of investment will be made to implement these new systems?
Regional governments are heavily focused on building smart cities, which require large investments to deploy advanced technologies across all sectors of the market. Within the logistics sector, the adoption of technology has rapidly increased, specifically among organizations specializing in manufacturing and retail.
Honeywell has launched an affordable solution – a fully integrated voice-directed productivity solution for SAP users that aims to provide improved accuracy, increased productivity and safety, to workers in warehouses. Guided Work Solutions from Honeywell is a software application that runs on the Android operating system, integrated with SAP Business One, designed for small and medium enterprise distribution centers. Once deployed, the integrated technology helps to manage warehouse operations, logistics and order fulfillment, and the SAP software makes it easy for workers to perform complex warehousing tasks, such as picking, receiving, put-away, packing and shipping inventory.
Does the tech eco-system exist in the UAE and wider Middle East for this kind of advancement?
Warehouses in the Middle East today have been transformed thanks to digitalization and Industry 4.0 technologies. They are very different facilities from what they were in the previous years. According to CBRE, the UAE’s logistics and warehouse sector is expected to grow in the next 12 months** as consumer buying behavior creates demand for high quality and technologically advanced storage warehouses that can efficiently deliver products on demand.
In order to meet these growing demands, Honeywell continues to introduce technologies such as the Mobility Edge Platform™ to facilitate growth. This platform, for example, is designed to help distribution centers manage and deploy mobile technology efficiently and productively. The Mobility Edge Platform offers an agile approach to enable enterprise IT to deliver better mobile solutions across businesses, without compromising on enterprise security, reliability or mobile worker productivity. The software embeds powerful tools across the platform to optimize workforce with faster data capture and secure enhanced worker communications.
Another example is that of Honeywell Vocollect™ voice solutions, that enable streamlined best-in-class business processes to help organizations synchronize the flow of products through the distribution center and drive growth. In fact, voice technology has been proven to increase picking accuracy by up to 99%, as well as boost worker productivity by as much as 35%.
Over the next decade, several trends will continue to affect and drive changes in warehouses and distribution centers across the UAE and the wider Middle East, as online retailers increasingly introduce the phenomenon of “next day deliveries.” With the market set to grow significantly in the logistics sector, we expect organizations to increasingly invest in e-commerce platforms to accommodate the kind of infrastructure technologically advanced warehouses require.