Warehouse Automation Systems and Trends in 2024

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Warehouses are undergoing a digital revolution, fueled by developing technologies, the rise of e-commerce, and shifting consumer expectations. While warehouse automation systems are not new, there are many recent advancements and trends to watch out for in 2024, which warehouse managers and business owners should be aware of.

Warehouse automation has played a significant role in the industry for decades, with organizations putting both hardware and software to work in different ways. For example, common automation solutions include warehouse management systems (WMS), supply chain planning solutions, autonomous robots, and automatic guided vehicles (AGV). But with the landscape of inventory-based businesses undergoing notable change in just the past few years alone, the state of warehouse automation systems has also changed.

To keep up with customer expectations and the pace of business, warehouse automation technology is undergoing a boom, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Data shows us that the warehouse automation market size is projected to experience significant growth in just the next few years: from $25 billion in 2024 to more than $54 billion in 2029.

Here’s everything you should know about warehouse automation systems and trends in 2024.


The Ecosystem of Warehouse Automation in 2024

To understand how and why warehouse automation systems are changing in 2024, it’s important to discuss some of the factors fueling these trends. The pace and velocity of e-commerce today have been one source of change in warehouses, which need to keep up with the speed and accuracy of delivery that consumers expect. For example, e-commerce sales worldwide have exploded in growth, ballooning from $1.3 billion in 2014 to more than $5.7 billion in 2023. To keep up with this demand (while maintaining both profitability and accuracy), many warehouses have turned to automation and other technologies.

It’s not just customer demand: with the steady rise of automation has come healthy competition among warehouses. Now, many warehouses are receiving and shipping their inventory faster and smarter than before, thanks to automation. Warehouses that forego this technology risk being left behind, and might fail to meet consumer expectations when it comes to things like shipping speed and stock availability.

Warehouse automation systems have also contributed to two things that are critical for warehouses today: resilience and profitability. When it comes to profitability, warehouse automation allows a business to optimize its operations, reducing overhead costs while improving margins. By ordering appropriate amounts of inventory and reducing errors (using demand forecasting and other warehouse technology) your warehouse can be best positioned to meet consumer demand.

Resilience is something that has played a growing role in warehouse operations, especially since the coronavirus pandemic, when the global supply chain experienced significant impacts. From shortages to delays, inventory-based businesses have come to realize the importance of building internal resilience, so they’re prepared to weather any storm. Warehouse automation systems contribute to resilience by improving accuracy and consistency, minimizing human error, supporting scalability, and providing warehouse leaders with the data they need to make tactical decisions.


Warehouse Automation Systems & Trends to Watch For

From enhanced connectivity to advanced inventory systems, here are the latest warehouse automation systems and trends to keep an eye on in 2024.

1. Changes to warehouse robotics

Mobile robots (such as automated guided vehicles and automated mobile robots) have already found successful applications in warehousing, but this space is forecasted to grow substantially. From 2023 to 2028, the global mobile robots market size is expected to grow by $14.9% CAGR, reaching more than $40 billion. This rise is fueled in part by the warehousing, manufacturing, and logistics industries, which are using mobile robots to improve efficiency and keep up with customer demand.

What does this all mean for warehouses? Expect to see new types of warehouse robots, new companies offering services, and smarter technology becoming more widely available.

2. Drone usage for inventory

Warehouse drones are another space to keep an eye on this year. While the specifics of service vary from provider to provider, warehouse drones typically fly autonomously in warehouse aisles, scanning locations. Warehouse drone systems can be an excellent tool for enhancing inventory visibility and accuracy: they can look for missing inventory, count products, and operate in narrow aisles, for example.

3. Faster connectivity speeds

With the growing availability of 5G technology, both connectivity speeds and capacity are increasing.

What exactly is this technology? It’s the next generation (the fifth) of mobile networking, and it has far higher speeds than its predecessor and can support powerful business outcomes. Research shows that in about 10 years, 5G “will facilitate 13.1 trillion dollars of global economic output.”

When it comes to warehouses, in particular, 5G can support ultra-fast data transmission, enabling faster communication and data exchange. There is also lower latency (the time it takes for data to travel between devices) as well as far more device connectivity (meaning you can connect a large number of devices at the same time). This can be used to power everything from robotics to security systems in warehouses.

4. Rise of AI use in warehouses

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is rising in popularity across the work ecosystem, and warehousing is no exception. AI in warehouses can be used in different ways. Still, it’s growing in prevalence when it comes to understanding the factors that impact demand, as well as obtaining advanced and accurate insights into inventory.

For example, AI can forecast demand with predictive modeling by assessing historical data and complicated patterns. It can also provide real-time insights into demand patterns, operating effectively even in the face of rapid consumer fluctuation. Another useful application of AI in warehouses? Distilling answers from data. AI-powered software gives you instant answers to your most urgent questions, such as what hasn’t shipped or sold, what your most important items are, and if you’re meeting service-level targets.

5. Improved supply chain visibility and accuracy

The emergence of supply chain planning technology has led to vast strides in warehouse visibility and accuracy. This technology comes in supply chain planning suites, which provide you with advanced demand forecasting, replenishment, inventory analytics, and supplier tracking tools. These features allow you to get an uninhibited view of your inventory, so you can monitor it at all times.

Supply chain planning suites also facilitate accurate ordering, so you can avoid scenarios such as stockouts, overstocks, and even inventory expiration. By monitoring service level targets and supplier performance, you can make strategic decisions that improve both business and warehouse performance

6. The introduction of augmented reality in warehousing

While it’s still a fairly new, emerging space, we’re seeing the application of augmented reality (AR) in warehousing. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, AR overlays digital information or visuals onto the physical world, using wearables (such as smart glasses) or even just the camera on a smartphone.

AR is already being put to work in warehouses and has use cases for scenarios such as warehouse management, inventory management, and order picking. For example, AR can be used to provide warehouse pickers with product information and bin locations. It can also display real-time order details directly onto items, and enhance training methods. AR even allows remote collaboration – someone on the warehouse floor can share their AR view with supervisors, stakeholders, or support personnel who are in a different location (and even off-site).

StockIQ: Keeping You Ahead of Warehouse Technology Trends

The state of warehouses and the supply chain is rapidly changing, and inventory-based businesses that want to stay ahead need to be ready to adopt and deploy the latest warehouse automation systems. If you’re ready to take your warehousing capabilities to the next level with automation, then StockIQ is here to help.

StockIQ is an intelligent supply chain planning suite that allows you to generate accurate forecasts, access advanced inventory analytics, monitor suppliers, and answer inventory critical questions in real time. You’ll be able to leverage automation and other next-generation technologies to improve supply chain visibility and service levels while providing an optimal experience to your customers.

Contact us today to get started with StockIQ.

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