Tomorrow’s Warehouse: Introduction
The million dollar question
No one knows how long this will last, but the smart money is on a long haul. That can’t be an
excuse for inaction as for logistics, the show must go on.
The big question is how long is the coronavirus
pandemic is going to last for? The truth is no one
knows. It is likely to be endemic until we have a
vaccine at scale.
Living and working with this is likely to be the new
normal for an extended period - it could be years.
But logistics demands action, so while there is
uncertainty, the wheels of logistics must keep turning.
One thing we do know is that retail habits have shifted
and this is likely to persist for quite some time. People
have been declaring the death of the High Street for
years, so such a heavy blow at a time of historic
weakness is going to create big problems. No one
knows what the High Street will look like in a few years,
but it could be radically different.
And as this happens, consumers are shifting their
money online at a faster rate than ever. This means that
related warehousing and logistics is in the odd position
of being at the epicentre of great change and
investment, despite much of the country being on
pause or in slowdown.
Generally logistics people cope better with higher
volumes than inertia, but even so the abruptness of the
change has been a challenge. So, is it the time for
turbocharged tech in the warehouse to combat this?
Well, yes and no.
In some sectors, automation will be needed to
consistently meet higher volumes, no question. We’re
already seeing large scale automation contracts being
put in place by the likes of Asda to cope with the new
normal. Furthermore, automation is now a much more
nuanced tool, with warehouse robots on a robots-as-a-service
basis meaning that companies can take
advantage of automated warehousing without huge
We need smart warehousing, above all.
You need to make sure you have sufficient stock but
manage it intelligently. We are not seeing the end of
lean, more the end of lean as a simple, blanket policy
that almost always works in a straightforward way.
It’s still not good to have more stock than you need.
It’s just that trying to predict how much stock you will
need and where and when has got materially harder.
You probably want to err on the safe side but not too
much. And you want to get better at predicting.
Forecasting is inevitable. You may do so boldly, you
may do so cautiously, but you have to make decisions
based on what you think the future will look like, albeit
with enough flexibility to shift gears as needed.
In terms of MHE investment, you probably want to
look at flexible options. It is not unusual for firms to
lease trucks on contracts for 5-7 years at a time,
but increasingly end users will insist on
review points within that, where you can
flex up and down the number of trucks
used (and charged for) within pre-agreed
We hope you find some food for
thought within this Report, and
above all, find some partners
and solutions that can help
you make wise
investments to push
your strategy forward.
Handling & Storage