Material handling is one of the essential tasks in the field of logistics. Without it, massive warehouses and powerful manufacturing industries would not exist. Materials handling equipment range from bulk material handling (trolleys, carts and forklifts), all the way to engineered systems and industrial trucks.
However, material handling equipment is not the only thing worth mentioning here. In 2021, we’re facing ever-greater automation, digitalization and a shift in priorities. Other than this, there’s a massive shift in workforce demographics that’s long since come. So, here are several material handling system trends that are expected to be big in 2021.
The biggest problem of the present-day warehouse industry (and logistics in general) is a lack of talent. The best way to avoid this problem is to make an investment towards increased automation. Sure, some of the world’s biggest companies (like Amazon.com) are already heavily investing in robotization. Still, it’s not just the hardware that needs to keep up. With the right WMS (warehouse management systems) it is possible to fully utilize the space in even the smallest of storage spaces. Under the influence of automation, the materials are moving more quickly and by reducing vacancy, you can get the effectiveness of a much larger warehouse.
The personal safety of people employed in warehouses is a top priority and there are several ways to preserve it. First of all is a proper organization of space, with enough room for maneuvering about. Second, you need a proper material handling tool. We’re not just talking about forklifts and trolleys but about composite rollers and conveyors, as well. Without proper equipment, people are more likely to get injured. Apart from this, you also need to invest in adequate PPE. Finally, you need a proper safety statement. For this to work, you need to supervise your staff and make sure that they are upholding it.
A lot of items in your warehouse need special conditions in order to be kept safe. With the help of sensor technology, you can easily keep these products/materials in a prime state for a lot longer. Now, ideally, all of these materials would only be here in transit. Your end goal is definitely not to keep these materials there for an infinite amount of time. Even if you can afford to buy a years-worth of materials, you do not want to tie your capital. Still, by measuring temperature, vibration and light in the warehouse area, you’ll ensure that everything is in proper order.
Demographics of the industry
In terms of the demographics of the materials handling industry, there are two trends – one good and one bad. A good thing is a fact that with each year, we see more women in the industry, taking charge. With advanced materials handling equipment, raw physical strength is no longer as big of a requirement as it was. Additionally, there are more and more women in positions of leadership, which should help push the industry into a new era. A bad trend is the fact that the workforce in the industry is aging rapidly. Young people simply don’t seem to be as interested.
The very last thing you need to keep in mind is that material handling system trends will keep evolving under the influence of e-commerce. The truth is that online shopping and a global customer base ensure that there was never before a bigger need for warehouse spaces or manufacturing facilities. Also, because the workforce in the industry is rapidly aging, it’s important to find a way to appeal to younger audiences. Increased investment in technology might just get the job done.