In 2024, the logistics industry will likely see continued activity and growth. Online ordering, increased consumer demands, and the “digital nomad” way of working have all contributed to changes in buying habits, leaving manufacturers and retailers always on the hunt for faster ways of moving goods across the country and the world.
Although things like warehouse automation and predictive maintenance have been able to lead to improved efficiency in modern warehousing operations, this is an industry that requires rapid adaption for continuing evolution. If you’re a warehousing professional who wants to stay ahead of the curve in the coming year, below are some warehouse logistics challenges for 2024 you need to keep on your radar:
Sustainability Will Continue to Be a Focus
When it comes to carbon footprints and sustainability, the logistics industry often receives a lot of attention due to the nature of over-the-road transport vehicles and heavy machinery involved in moving pallets around inside and around a warehouse space. Logistics professionals have to balance efficiency and reducing carbon emissions at the same time, and this will continue to be at the top of the list of warehouse logistics challenges in 2024.
Thankfully, the use of automated guided vehicles and other electric and robotic technologies inside warehouse operations can reduce the need for relying on carbon. Additionally, electric transport vehicles have evolved to the point where many companies now utilize them alongside traditional trucks. Investing in sustainable technologies may be able to mitigate or at least offset some emissions, allowing logistics professionals to tackle this challenge in 2024.
Solar has also come a long way in terms of affordability and energy conversion efficiency. Warehouses can take advantage of solar panels to generate power on sunny days, and battery storage technologies also provide solutions to utilize solar power at night or during inclement weather.
Artificial Intelligence Leads the Way in 2024
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies look to be both a challenge and a solution in 2024. AI is a fairly novel technology in the warehousing and logistics arena, but when used correctly, it has the potential to improve inventory management, reduce labor shortages and improve customer satisfaction. The downside to AI for warehousing and logistics is that these technologies have not had a real chance to be tested for long periods of time, and there is usually an adjustment period for warehouse managers implementing AI to balance the need for manpower with the use of these technologies.
Despite these challenges, warehouse managers can use AI in a variety of ways to improve efficiency in 2024, and while AI will not replace human workers, it can be used to supplement your workforce to improve accuracy. For example, by training a computer vision model on a standard pallet size, AI can then scan pallets to detect tiny changes in shape and size.
This allows systems to identify defective or damaged pallets that may have slight nuanced changes that are imperceptible to the naked eye. By identifying defective pallets or pallets that fall outside of acceptable guidelines, warehouse managers can save on returns from customers or claims for damaged goods. AI computer vision can also help your warehouse staff group like pallets together to maximize storage areas in a warehouse space and when loading trucks.
Keep an Eye on eCommerce
eCommerce is one of the hottest channels in retail right now, and warehousing and logistics professionals would be smart to keep an eye on developments in eCommerce since this channel affects daily operations. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) has shown signs of slowing down following the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, but traditional eCommerce through sites like Amazon continues to be fast-paced.
With that said, DTC subscription services are also something to take note of when it comes to eCommerce. Some subscription services that flourished during the pandemic saw waning interest as 2023 came to a close, but according to Retail Drive, some 75% of DTC services have or will have some type of subscription component in place for 2024.
This means warehousing and logistics professionals are likely to see faster turnover of parcels, shipments and pallets in the new year. Subscription services for retail and food products mean more throughput at warehouses and along supply lines. This means warehouses will need to be prepared for a lot more movement, but on the upside, this can potentially lead to greater predictability in movement if customers in a particular area subscribe to DTC brands and have regular, ongoing shipments.
Global Supply Chain Strength Requires Attention
If you were to read a book about the last few years, the table of contents would undoubtedly list Covid-19 and its effects on the global supply chain. Although the pandemic is largely in the rearview mirror heading into 2024, the aftershocks of its long term effect on supply chains across the planet are still being felt.
As a result, warehouse logistics challenges in 2024 will include strengthening third-party logistics networks and putting backup plans in place. Many logistics professionals have already begun building programs to reinforce supply chains so that future emergencies don’t result in the same bottlenecks and delays experienced during the pandemic, but there is still more work to be done.
Supply chains will also require greater communication between links and nodes. As was demonstrated by the pandemic, a breakdown in communication can be devastating for supply chains on a global scale. When you add in incidents like the Ever Given Suez Canal debacle, supply chains can grind to a halt if logistics professionals are not in regular communication with one another.
Internet-of-Things Technologies on the Rise
Speaking of communication, one of the greatest challenges logistics professionals will face in 2024 is keeping all of the moving pieces of an operation in communication with one another. As more and more tech gets added to warehouse operations, tying all of these moving pieces together may prove to be increasingly difficult.
Many logistics and warehousing professionals have found that Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies are the solution to these difficulties. IoT technologies are Internet-connected devices and systems that allow everything from your breakroom refrigerator to warehouse conveyor belts and forklifts to communicate with one another. As a warehouse professional, this allows you to make an informed decision in real time regarding changes in an operation, and some IoT software can make decisions for you as variables change in a process.
Keep Your Plans Flexible to See Success in 2024
The key to overcoming warehouse logistics challenges in 2024 remains the same as any other year in the logistics industry – keep your plans flexible. Changes happen rapidly, and with the evolution of technology in the logistics space, a flexible plan is a must. It’s always a good idea to develop a plan early, but keep that plan fluid enough to adapt as changes come your way.
Contact Pallet Marketing Inc. to Get Ahead of the Curve and Ensure Success in Logistics All Year
Pallet Market Inc. is your source for pallet solutions, and our team is here to help you make 2024 your best year yet. Whether you need to buy pallets, order custom pallets, exchange pallets or anything in between, our service experts can help.