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Material Handling Trends in 2020

Men going around a warehouse

It’s important to stay ahead of the competition if you want your business to succeed. It’s even more important this year when the world is changing faster than ever. The Material Handling Trends of 2020 bring significant challenges and opportunities for your business to grow. From even faster delivery times and cheaper automation to in-depth data analytics and a highly competitive recruiting market. 

Indoff Material Handling Partners know the products you need in your warehouses and distribution centers to keep pace so don’t remain complacent in trends of the previous decade.

On-Demand Ecommerce

It can be dizzying to think of how quickly the world has changed but one thing is certain – people are demanding products that can be easily ordered and delivered quickly. In the spring of 2019, Amazon announced a change coming to the Prime service. Amazon would be moving away from two-day shipping and changing it to just one-day shipping (Source: CNet). When Prime was first announced businesses scrambled to keep pace but this announcement brings yet another 50% decrease in shipping time.

When the leader of the material handling industry makes a move such as this, it’s important that your business keeps up with the new expectations and processes orders in real-time. Businesses are moving away from large single distribution centers to a wider network of smaller centers that can keep up with these demands and improve the efficiency of the supply chain. Additionally, ensuring the flow of operations in each location is optimized will contribute largely to your success. 

Make sure you have all the tools in place to ensure you can keep up with your customers when and where they demand it.

Automation Systems Only Continue to Grow

It’s not unknown that human labor is extremely expensive but it also leaves room for error and can be inefficient as well as uncertain. In fact, the cost of labor in warehouses makes up 65% of total operating costs (Source: Inbound Logistics). This is where automation steps in. Not only are robots great at the task they’ve been designed for, but they are incredibly reliable and cost-efficient. 

In previous years, many smaller companies haven’t been able to make the leap to automation due to the high cost of entry. Fortunately for many companies though this will not be an issue as the price of robots continually drops year over year. 5 years ago the average bot would cost $31k and by 2025 that price is expected to drop to $11k (Source: Ark Invest). 

Additionally, automated storage and retrieval systems can improve customer satisfaction with above 99% accuracy on picking and fulfilling orders. This translates into less time on the phone as well as less time refilling incorrect orders. Although this is all great news, it means that every year your business isn’t buying into automation is a year you’re falling behind.

Stay Positive and Develop Your Peers

The job market in 2020 is extremely tight and competitive. The current unemployment rate is the lowest its been since 1969 (Source: and as such its hard to find good employees. It’s important that companies notice this and make changes to stand out from the crowd.

Creating positive energy in your warehouse or distribution center can have a big impact on your company. Listening to the concerns of your employees will show that you care and make them more willing to stay. Additionally, learning from previous reviews of your company either from customers or employees will only improve the way you do business.

You can also show you care by developing your peers to be the best they can be. It’s more important than ever to provide a path for your employees to continually move up within the company. Once an employee feels stuck and their job is stagnant, whether in pay or in tasks, they are bound to begin looking for a new home.

In Conclusion

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure and making a small change today can have a huge impact on your business tomorrow. Take a look at your current situation and see where improvements can be made. It may be something as simple as a new conveyor or upgraded racking to something as complex as an in-plant office or an automated guided vehicle. 

Indoff’s Material Handling Partners are truely experts within the industry and have access to hundreds of vendors to ensure you receive the right material handling equipment for whichever situation you may find yourself in.

Not sure who to contact? Use our tool to find an Indoff Partner near you!

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