2024 is here, and as we enter a new year, it brings new challenges for businesses in order to stay tuned to the new trends shaping the logistics and warehouse industry.

From data optimisation and the continuous rise of AI, to the growing popularity of e-commerce and the increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, Dan Brasier, CEO at Southgate Global, explores the various trends at play that will shape the success or downfall of businesses in the coming year.

“In recent years, we have already seen a lot of businesses turning to digital processes and modern warehouse operating systems and this is only expected to grow. As the need for speed and accuracy ramps up, we will continue to see businesses focusing on data optimisation as it offers the ability to process vast amounts of data and make intelligent decisions in near real-time,” said Brasier.

While AI-operated tools that use data speed up the process, Brasier explained the importance of them working in coherence with innovative human tools, “Having advanced technology is great, but it only works to full potential if the original data is input correctly. Enabling the operatives to have every chance to input the right data from the get-go to get the most from the digital processes is key. That comes down to giving them the right tools to do their job more effectively.”

“For example, our Mobile Powered Workstation (MPW) cuts out the need to take hastily written notes and then walk back to a fixed workstation to enter data. Not only does this impact productivity, it introduces the risk of data entry errors. Because the operatives do their data entry at the pick face, businesses can reduce the risk of human error with inaccurate data entries, while reducing walk time. That elimination of data errors means the power of the digital processes is far more likely to be fully realised.”

Another major trend Brasier identified was the growing popularity of e-commerce and the need to meet modern consumer demands. UK e-commerce sales are expected to reach $£160.6 billion in 2024 and will continue to grow at 4.1% year on year to 2026 resulting forecast sales of £194 bn by 2027. Customers now want quick, convenient deliveries and in order for businesses to meet this, Brasier explained efficiency must be introduced at each stage of the process.

He said: “Consumer expectations have changed. For example, next-day delivery is an expectation now rather than an option, and this is only going to get more intense for the supply chain. To keep up, its vital businesses are reviewing their last mile process and bringing in technology and equipment to optimise efficiencies where they can.”

The demand for e-commerce has meant the number of vans on the roads has grown substantially, yet most docking facilities aren’t configured to service them, as their bays are built for 40ft artics.

Brasier explained that it is particularly important to have the right solutions in place for these manual areas of the supply chain, “It’s at these key points such as the loading bay which can have huge negative knock-on effects on the efficiency of the entire supply chain if this area is not working at full optimisation.

“Our Dock Levelling Ramp, for example, allows organisations to rapidly expand the efficiency, flexibility and accessibility of their docks by moving goods right up and into their light trucks and vans directly from the warehouse as they do with their big artics. Implementing equipment such as this will make a huge difference in speeding up their dispatch operations in the coming year when organisations need to maintain a competitive approach.”

2024 will also see the reduction of carbon emissions as a top priority for logistics businesses worldwide, said Brasier, “Everyone is looking to focus on creating strategies to lower the environmental impact of their facilities. In doing so they’ll need to learn more about their operational logistics and fulfilment providers and how they are dealing with their carbon emissions. Especially as they implement their own strategy for Scopes 3 and 4.”

Southgate recently announced it attained carbon neutrality for Scopes 1 and 2 for the year 2022 (the current certification year), as part of its commitment to environmental responsibility. The organisation is also recognised as an Ecovadis silver-rated enterprise and is continually looking to introduce sustainable product innovations under its Pacplus packing consumables and Optimax packaging equipment brands such as its new low energy WAT tape dispenser.

Brasier added: “Having ambitious targets in place to reduce carbon emissions is incredibly important. Everyone will need to be playing their part in committing to addressing a comprehensive range of emissions and contributing to a sustainable future, actions we are proud to be taking the lead on at Southgate.”

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