How the Future Warehouse will look in 2020 and Beyond

Find out how the future warehouse will be making use of pioneering technologies in 2020 and beyond.


The ecommerce sector has seen immense growth in recent years. In just the past year alone, the value of the industry has risen from 175 billion Euros to over 200 billion Euros, with 16 per cent of all retail sales in the UK attributed to online purchases.  

It is no wonder then that the face of warehousing and logistics has begun to evolve in a highly significant way in order to keep up with the ever-growing demand by internet shoppers. As a new decade looms, technology is set to transform warehouses in London and all over the country. Let’s take a closer look at precisely how the future warehouse will be making use of pioneering technologies in 2020 and beyond.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology

The automation of warehouse operations is a trend that has been growing for some time, but now, with the adoption of machine-to-machine technology (M2M), warehouse management is set to become significantly more sophisticated.

M2M systems control all the equipment a warehouse needs to automate the production process or other areas of the supply chain. The functionality can be used to power everything from conveyors and wrapping machinery to automated packing machines and much more. M2M is able to control the full sequence of events and monitor production stages, flagging quality issues whilst monitoring the efficiency of the machines so that any issues that may affect productivity are detected early on.

M2M for logistics and warehousing operators tends to be based around machinery that is focused on order fulfilment. Product tracking, data collection and reporting, equipment management, maintenance, repair, status and despatch and more can all be automated using M2M technology, which can be integrated with an in-house warehouse management system for the ultimate in control.  

Machine-to-machine technology has the power to streamline operations and enhance customer service in a considerable way. The accurate business intelligence produced by M2M is incredibly valuable in predicting accurate delivery times for customers, so enhancing customer service and reputation.

Internet of Things (IoT) for warehouses

The Internet of Things (IoT) is making big waves in many areas of industry and commerce, and warehousing and logistics is no exception.  

IoT has opened up realms of possibilities when it comes to the supply chain. With devices connected across so many elements of the chain, processes become much more streamlined thanks to the likes of real-time tracking and data exchange.

Combine IoT with radio frequency identification (RFID), and you have a system that can track absolutely any tagged item in an inventory, creating a streamlined stock location system with all the vital intelligence nicely condensed into a readily accessible database.

IoT connected devices have the ability to deliver greater volume of information and much deeper levels than ever before, whether that’s stock data or distribution information. State-of-the-art tracking systems allow organisations to share real-time tracking information with their customers, boosting customer satisfaction and streamlining communications. With less time spent chasing information, productivity and efficiency excel.

Artificial intelligence and robotics

Whilst 2020 isn’t quite ready for a human and robot co-working environment, it is safe to say that robots and artificial intelligence (AI) technology are already having a significant impact on warehousing and logistics efficiency.

With precision programming, AI and robotics are able to streamline repetitive tasks, freeing up human workers to manage the more complex jobs. It is unlikely the near future will see robots performing intricate tasks, because the in-depth programming and highly sophisticated software required just doesn’t exist yet.  

Amazon is an industry leader when it comes to warehouse robotics. Its workforce incorporates more than 100,000 small mobile robots, capable of carrying entire shelving units of merchandise around the factory floor, delivering them to human workers who are poised and ready to fulfil customers’ orders. In the future, Amazon envisages huge improvements to the way its robot employees work, moving from the set pathways they follow around their warehouses to a fully automated environment.

AI and robotics in warehousing have the power to reduce operational costs; to improve productivity; to enhance order accuracy; to speed upcycle times, and to reduce safety incidents.

Wireless and voice-activated technology

Being tethered by cables to a set location was never going to provide the flexibility warehouse personnel needed to do their jobs efficiently. Wireless devices are already improving a number of supply chain roles, freeing up staff so they can perform their tasks from anywhere.

Wireless access to inventory tracking platforms also means everything from printing packing slips and labels to scanning barcodes and updating stock levels can all be done on the go. And with data shared across devices, everyone can see the latest information in real time, improving communications and reducing the risk of errors.

Voice-activated technology is also set to play a much more involved role in the future warehouse. As the name suggests, it uses spoken commands to pick, pack and replenish stock, improving productivity and accuracy, reducing operator training and delivering a higher return on investment.  

Finding your future warehouse in London

Dohertybaines offers in-depth expertise in all aspects of commercial warehousing for rent or for sale in London and the Home Counties. If you are seeking commercial warehousing that will support your future growth plans, you are welcome to contact our dedicated team on 020 7355 3033 for the tailored advice and specialist guidance you need to source the ideal premises to suit your operation.


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