Warehousing and logistics is a steadily growing industry in Australia, with the number of businesses increasing by 16.8% from June 2017 to June 2018. The rapid rise in competition has led to technological advancements and game-changing innovations, which has raised the benchmark across the industry. The most significant improvements that have been made are in the realms of warehouse safety and efficiency. These areas are a major priority for the development of technological solutions, because improving warehouse safety and operational efficiency can significantly boost productivity and drive down warehouse costs.

Safety

Due to the very nature of warehouse environments and warehouse work, safety is a major concern. According to Safe Work Australia’s Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics report, the transport, postal and warehousing industry accounted for the fourth highest number of serious claims in 2016-2017. The extremely high frequency of work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders in this sector has highlighted a clear need for more effective safety solutions.

An area that has been focused on is the automation of manual tasks. Physical labour is prevalent in many warehousing and logistics roles and is a major cause of serious workplace injuries. For example, a warehouse pick packer is often required to do a lot of heavy lifting throughout the course of their work day, which makes them vulnerable to a number of health risks. By automating or outsourcing these physical duties, warehouses and logistics businesses can significantly reduce injury rates and maximise the output of their workforce.

Smart:System, developed by Dane Technologies, is one such example of an innovative solution designed to streamline warehouse logistics and make picking and packing safer. The Smart:System is comprised of Smart:Drive and Smart:Rack. Smart:Drive is a compact scooter-like vehicle that warehouse workers use to quickly get around and pick the required items to fulfil an order. Whereas, Smart:Rack is a cart that seamlessly and instantly hitches onto Smart:Drive. The Smart:System enables warehouse workers to quickly and easily transport large loads, without the physical strain associated with manually performing this task. Smart:System, and other technological innovations similar to it, help ‘bridge the gap between manual processes and full automation’, which can significantly reduce health and safety risks, and optimise warehouse operations.

Another key aspect of warehousing safety that required widespread improvement, was the warehouse environment itself. Warehouses are often full of hazards, such as forklifts and other machinery, heavy materials, uneven surfaces, falling objects, obstructions on pathways, etc. This high risk work environment must be appropriately managed, so that the safety of warehouse workers is maintained, and warehouses can run smoothly.

To reduce the ever-present risk of collision and enable the seamless co-existence of warehouse workers and machinery, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is being used to provide proximity warnings. RFID readers are attached to vehicles and warehouse workers carry or wear RFID tags. If the RFID tag on the warehouse worker comes into the range of the RFID reader that is attached to the vehicle, an alarm will sound or lights will flash to alert the worker and get them to remove themselves from the potentially dangerous situation. There is potential for RFID technology to be extended further, where the vehicle’s brakes would be triggered in the same situation.

The health risks associated with warehouse work and the hazardous nature of the work environment, can severely affect the safety and wellbeing of workers and have a detrimental impact on productivity. This has spurred the development of safety systems and technologies to improve conditions, maintain the health of their workers and ensure that the warehouse gets the most out of their team.

Efficiency

The success of a warehouse or logistics company is contingent on the efficiency of its operations. With the notable increase in competition, it has become more important than ever to optimise and streamline business operations, in order to fulfill and despatch orders faster and stand out in the industry.

Warehouses and logistics companies are achieving faster and more efficient processes, with the the growing use of robots. Robots are able to fully automate certain warehouse functions, which removes the need for human workers. Robots significantly boost efficiency, as they are immune to fatigue, often perform tasks at a faster pace and elevate accuracy. Warehouse robots also reduce injury rates and safety issues as human and vehicle traffic become more separated.

An example of this, are autonomous inventory robots. These autonomous inventory robots are coupled with RFID-tagged products and equipment, so they are able to conduct regular inventory checks without human intervention. Autonomous inventory robots allow warehouses to receive essentially real-time data regarding their stock on-hand, know exactly what products are close to expiry, and if there are any inefficiencies with the placement of inventory or overall warehouse layout. The insights gained from this robot allow warehouses to make smarter business decisions, dramatically improve warehouse efficiency, and reduce time and resource wastage.

Technological advances in warehouse and logistics have helped to raise the bar throughout the entire industry. Enhanced safety and efficiency have become the main focus of these advancements, due to their direct correlation with productivity. To keep up and grow in the warehousing and logistics industry, companies must stay up-to-date with the latest developments and embrace the innovations that emerge.

Does your warehouse need additional staff to cope with increased business demand? Is your warehouse feeling the pressure caused by worker absences?

Contact us at Workfast Labour Hire and we’ll help you connect with high quality warehouse workers quickly and easily. Our labour hire recruiters are experts in the warehouse and logistics industry, so we understand exactly what you’re looking for in a labour hire service and you can trust that we’ll find you fully-vetted warehouse workers with the right skills and qualifications. To get started with us, call 1300 824 403 or fill out our online Labour Hire Staff Request Form today!