5 Ways Automated Dimensioning Helps Optimize First Mile Logistics

Tags: E-commerce, Logistics, Technology , Supply Chain

Bruce Stubbs is Director of Supply Chain Industry Marketing, Honeywell

E-commerce is not just changing the retail industry, but significantly impacting logistics as well. Reaching $394.86 billion last year, e-commerce has increased 15.6% compared with $341.70 billion in 2015. With such an increase in e-commerce sales, the need for an efficient delivery service has never been so high.

Customers are greatly influencing the delivery of their parcels – demanding wider delivery windows, which require a later cut off point at hubs. They also want options of where and when the parcel is delivered.

Regardless of how easy the online order process is, the part of the transaction the customer remembers is the delivery. Did it arrive? Was it on time? Was it in perfect condition? What were the delivery options? Was it the right item? Was the correct quantity shipped?

The last mile is widely recognized as part of the delivery experience – but what about the first mile?

First mile is experiencing its own growing pains. With the huge increase in parcels and cartons shipped, carriers realize that they are exceeding their space constraints first before exceeding weight constraints.

This is not the only reason companies are looking towards space optimization solutions to address these new challenges. It’s also getting costlier to buy or rent warehouse space – so companies are looking to maximize their current space.

So more parcel companies and warehouses are looking toward space optimization. And dimensioning has become a critical part of this. New findings from VDC Research bear this out: 43% of respondents in warehousing and distribution space reported currently supporting parcel/carton dimensioning, and 30% of respondents in warehousing and distribution space reported planning to support dimensioning of items in future.

So when it comes to dimensioning, why not do it manually? Manual measurements can be time-consuming, inaccurate, and subject to human error. Lack of automated dimensioning has also forced shippers to use fewer packing box options, resulting in increased shipping costs due to wasted space in shipping boxes.

Here are five ways automated dimensioning can help avoid logistical challenges and save you money:

1. Increase throughput of your fulfillment center. Accurate dimensioning of every product can help companies optimize many warehouse workflows – like putaway and picking, or building pallets and loading so that pallet and truck space is optimized.

2. Increase operational efficiency. With proper dimensions, you can accurately plan for how much space and how many vehicles are needed to move packages from parcel locations to hubs. Knowing accurate dimensions can help companies optimally allocate storage locations based on product size.

3. Save money from reconciling inaccurate measurements. Reconciliation time and chargebacks by 3PL companies can be costly, so avoiding human error in manual measurements can add up to big savings.

4. Regain lost revenue. A wrong measurement could mean you’re not charging the customer the appropriate amount – a missed revenue opportunity.

5. Save time at the retail counter. In addition to distribution centers, automated dimensioning speeds up the time for parcel delivery company’s retail stores by reducing bottlenecks, and increases productivity by avoiding the need for time-consuming manual measurements.

Increasing customer demand can often cause businesses to become stretched thin, meaning that accuracy can often lose priority. Of course, this can lead to a negative impact on a company’s brand and reputation. However, market drivers in reality present a great opportunity for operators to innovate their solutions. If the industry moves to automated space optimization with these new technologies, the future of logistics looks bright.