How Touchless Packaging and Hands-Free Distribution Improves Supply Chain Efficiency
Companies always look for ways to improve efficiency, especially in their supply chains. Getting goods to the market faster and less expensively is a win for everybody.
And while the pandemic created supply chain issues for everyone, the pandemic did have one positive effect on some companies: it forced them to improve their distribution processes.
One way they did this was by adopting touchless packaging and shipping. In recognition of the importance the supply chain plays in today’s economy, the transportation and logistics industry found new and innovative ways to implement touchless fulfillment.
Abe Eshkenazi, CEO of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), says, “Twenty years ago, the supply chain was relegated to a corner of the business. Now, supply chain touches every element of a business, and supply chain managers have to understand how all the different functions — marketing, sales, finance — of the business work together and navigate those waters.”
In this article, we look at the touchless model and how it improves efficiency throughout the supply chain, from packaging to warehousing to distribution and beyond.
What Is a Touchless Supply Chain?
A supply chain that requires little to no human interaction is known as a touchless supply chain. Supply chains have historically demanded a lot of mental effort and supervision. Human employees have been present at every stage of the chain, carrying out duties and supervising the chain’s efficient operation.
Last year, half of all U.S. manufacturing and distribution sales were processed manually – a total of $8.4 trillion dollars in business-to-business sales.
A touchless supply chain, however, eliminates the requirement for human contact at any stage. Automation can now be used to automate back office procedures, just as it has done for decades with industrial operations. The great bulk of internal tasks and logistics are handled by AI processing, which makes everything just happen.
There are two benefits:
- Inevitable human mistakes are eliminated from supply chain activities.
- Employees can stop doing tedious physical labor and instead focus on producing high-value output that increases income.
As they say in the world of fulfillment, speed gets you in the lead.
“Moving toward a touchless supply chain is a guaranteed way to future-proof an enterprise against future disruptions. The quicker that companies can remove human intervention from the functioning of their supply chains, the better off they will be. And starting with the core business documents that currently swallow up the most human hours is the sensible and impactful place to begin” says Judd Marcello, Executive Vice President and CMO of supply chain company Conexiom.
What Are the Benefits of Touchless Packaging and Shipping for Supply Chain Management?
Going touchless has many advantages.
- Optimized flow and utilization of warehouse space
- Improved operational efficiency.
- Increased workforce productivity.
- Decrease overhead, expenses, and costs resulting from human error
- Minimized manual procedures
What’s Needed to Implement Hands-Free Packaging and Shipping?
Warehouse automation uses technology to streamline operations and bolster outcomes. The most effective warehouse automation solutions are ergonomic, scalable, and maximize ROI. There are two different warehouse automation types: physical and digital automation.
- Physical Automation. This includes mechanical machinery like robotic systems used in a warehouse environment. Examples of physical automation include autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), goods-to-person (GTP) technology, wearable gadgets, and collaborative robots (abbreviated “cobots”). Automation equipment can speed up turnaround times, lower job-related risks, and reduce human error.
- Digital Automation. Software is used in digital automation to automate manual tasks like inventory tracking. One type of digital automation solution is a warehouse management system (WMS), which gathers and analyzes vital data to increase visibility and speed up time-consuming activities. Another software program that not only scans and records inventory but also transmits information to a central database in real-time is mobile barcoding.
Warehouse and distribution-related processes can be considerably improved by physical and digital automation in ways that are just not possible with conventional methods. By effectively automating repetitive processes, firms can cut expenses and shift their attention to higher-value work.
According to the Advance Mobile Group, which specializes in touchless warehousing systems, the touchless warehouse has six elements:
- Hands-Free Remote Device Management
- Voice Directed Work
- Targeted Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) Applications
- The “Personal Mobile Workstation”
- Updated Media (Label) Options
- Clean Warehouse Best Practices