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The silent warehouse awaits

18 June 2015

Picture the future of the warehouse, the racks are there, as are products, and the smooth resined floors, but there’s no yellow marks on those floors.

Why would you need them? There are no people to segregate from the quietly humming machinery that smoothly conveys products from shelf to bench to be wrapped or packed and conveyed onwards to despatch, where an automated truck awaits.

Whether you see this a dream or a nightmare is up to you. I can certainly see the health and safety benefits and perhaps the management algorithms that run future companies will beep in satisfaction at the quiet efficiency of it all.

While this might be the future, the article here shows robots have a way to go (especially with item picking).

Ten years ago if an adult was to ask the question - what is a warehouse? - no doubt they would have been sarcastically shown a picture book which also features a car, a tree and a school. It does not seem a stupid question these days, and not because of the dumbing down of the education system, but because of fast-changing patterns of distribution.

The explosion in eCommerce has pushed products way off the beaten track of DC to store, basically to anywhere a consumer will be inclined to pick it up. Therefore we see a storage role performed by mini-warehouses everywhere from railways stations to corner shops, and universities.

One of the prime movers in this sector is Doddle and we interview the COO where he says his company is as geeky about storage as any warehouse operators. We also hear how their targeting of locations with large, regular footfall could help retailers and couriers cope with the next big delivery peak.

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