As products are created, they will be sent out to warehouses which are likely to be collaborative stores, utilised by multiple manufacturers. Transporting goods between warehouse and destinations, such as regional consolidation centres and city hubs, will also be collaborative. Cross-docking for final distribution will take place from here. By consolidating deliveries to homes, pick-up points, stores and businesses, efficiency can be maximised.
Although there are currently some operations using a shared-user initiative, the new vision for collaborative warehousing, as described by Capgemini (2010), will take this to a new level. This is the way to reduce costs and environmental impacts, as well as deal with problems such as labour shortages.
In order to prove successful in the long term, the concept will require a high level of commitment and trust between logistical service providers, retailers and manufacturers. All partners will need to play a role in brokering agreements and taking on a certain level of risk.
Re-Evaluation of Facilities
It is hoped that management of the supply chain will improve significantly, reducing the need for over-stocked warehouses and moving towards trans-shipments and cross-docking as the norm. Warehouses will become hubs for pallets and parcels and used as sheds for local transit.
The number of fulfilment and returns centres will overtake that of warehouses. The increased cost of fuel and the need for shorter lead times may also lead to a more localised production, with warehouses becoming once again an extension of the production plant. Real-time interaction with consumers and companies will be commonplace.
Automation may also become a big aspect of warehousing, with the use of robots to collect and deposit totes, cartons and pallets. Pallets and http://www.rackzone.ie/pallet-racking and in the UK may need to become more uniform to accommodate this.
Of course, the need will remain for a skilled workforce, particularly engineers specialising in IT and service equipment, in order to oversee operations.
Sustainability will also be a key consideration for the warehouse building and all internal equipment. This will become easier as the technology evolves and also becomes more affordable – from solar panels on the roof to re-usable and recycled packing materials.