One-third of warehouses don't have a warehouse management system

Dive Brief:

  • One-third of facilities have not implemented a warehouse management systems (WMS), according to a survey of 549 industry professionals from the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC).
  • Voice-directed picking has seen the greatest implementation growth among new technologies. About a quarter of facilities are using the technology today, compared to 5.7% in 2008. 
  • Meanwhile, implementation of conveyers, carousels and advanced shipping notification have declined over the last decade.

Data from WERC

Dive Insight:

Facilities have implemented digital technologies into their warehouses over the last ten years, but progress has been slow. 

"Technology continues to advance at a rapid rate and implementation lags in warehousing," WERC wrote in its survey. "Today, in the warehouse of 2018 ... technologies have had only a marginal implementation for many of our respondents."

The lack of warehouse management systems is particularly troubling, as a WMS can set the foundation for incorporating newer technologies. Without that baseline, adding newer, emerging technologies can prove a futile effort.

WERC said in many cases, warehouses are relying on manual systems such as Excel spreadsheets or "disparate modules" to run each individual warehouse component on a separate system. That process goes against evolving technologies, such as the internet of things (IoT) and smart manufacturing — both of which rely on systems and machines within a warehouse communicating with one another.

If technology and warehouse implementation continue to grow at their respective rates, warehouses will fall farther and farther behind.

"We wonder how prepared warehousing and distribution are to step into their part in the digital supply chain for many organizations," WERC said.