Normal warehouse operations took a turn this past year as work schedules were staggered to accommodate newly mandated health precautions. Safety is always a challenge where heavy machinery and lifting are involved, but few facilities have faced the stringent and often inconvenient requirements endured through the current pandemic.
Not only has safety been prioritized as a means to keep businesses open; Covid tracking turned into a job position in many organizations. Anyone reporting symptoms or encountering individuals who tested positive were instructed to quarantine at home for two weeks. During viral spikes, this practice posed many challenges for businesses to keep up with workload and remain profitable. Many people tested positive and there was a high need for workers during this time.
On a regular basis, any workflow that required close contact between employees had to be modified to enforce social distancing, a challenge for anyone working in or coming into contact with the warehouse. Wearing masks, sanitizing one’s hands, and keeping the facilities sanitized burdened both the employer and employees.
Machine vs. Man
Automation is already a growing trend in many warehouses across the nation. The implementation of occupation techniques and technologies allows for improvement in efficiency, and the reliability of the tasks that were previously performed by humans. Coming up with solutions to a strained work force drove many businesses to take the next step to upgrade their systems to automate many tasks.
Other businesses implemented work at home solutions for remote communication and software management. Cloud-based warehouse software such as SOS Inventory is accessible from any internet connected device offering business continuity for employers with many of their staff working remotely. Meetings have been conducted via Zoom, Google Meet, Team Manager, and other conferencing software to connect workers by audio and video whenever necessary.
While facing these challenges, it becomes more difficult to manage costs. Rising costs are passed down to the consumer and during a time of financial difficulty, that’s hardly a solution for remaining competitive. Maintaining a balance between offering the same quality at the same price while operating profitably is the sum of all difficulties warehouses faced this past year.
The way consumers shopped also made a dramatic shift through the health crisis. More shoppers were driven to offered products online, seeing a sharp rise in customer expectations for rapid order processing and effective pallet delivery. Sanitizing products become difficult to find and manufacturers shifted their business models to meet the growing needs of consumers for protective equipment and cleaning products.
Moving forward, most businesses are cognizant of the need to adapt quickly and have a plan in place should another health crisis arise. Some of the solutions they’ve used to solve the problem have proven effective and will continue to be used. Technologies that deliver faster service to meet growing customer demands will help businesses survive the stiff competition. At a time when faster delivery was called for, operations were slowed. Any solutions that counteract this effect will be the ones that will rely upon by businesses working to grow in the most challenging circumstances.
The rise of robots during this time
There has been a huge shortage of staff during this time as many people suffered from Covid. This is the major reason there has been a huge demand for robots. For instance, in South Korean warehouses, robots were used to check the temperature of employees and used to administer hand sanitizers as well. Moreover, since social distancing is now practiced in different parts of the world, a lot of workers cannot function in a single place at a time. This is where automation played a huge role and carried out different tasks. They help in getting orders outdoors and related stuff. This resulted in a great and efficient solution for companies as robots make fewer errors compared to humans, and carrying out social distancing has been made a lot easier.
Robots also play a role in sanitizing the warehouses to eliminate any threat of COVID. They do this by spraying chemical sprays and using ultraviolet light for deep cleaning. This automation has made it possible for warehouses to meet the growing demand. However, this was only possible for huge companies out there who had a lot of bucks to invest in automation.
The increase in demand for goods made it quite hard for warehouses to function during this time. From keeping products safe, importing, exporting, and delivering them, all of this has become quite difficult. This is where companies opted for different methods that helped them to make sure everything runs smoothly. Be it adding automation to the company or using software to help with inventory. Not to add, meeting hygienic conditions and methods during this time has been the top priority for every company out there for their employees and customers’ safety.