The Future of Warehouses
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The focus of this research is on the future of warehouses and how they could adapt to the needs and necessities of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The fact is that new technological achievements in digital and smart production, robotics, 3D printing, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, and so on, are changing the world, and architecture is not an exception. Here the question is, how the fourth industrial revolution is going to re-shape the future of warehouses, what is the scope of the changes and what are the repercussions. There are various references for automation and other technological advancements for warehouses, but spatial and operational impacts have not been addressed as much. The Idea of Online shopping is getting more and more common all around the world, adding more convenience to people’s lifestyles through the ease of access to goods via various platforms, a wide variety of products to choose from, easy payment and fast delivery, and so on. Companies providing such facilities need different types of buildings to operate, partly administrative for their offices and partly warehouse where they deal with actual products to store, process, and deliver to the costumers. This research intends to focus on the operational as well as the spatial qualities of warehouses and scenarios for their future developments. The standard “operations” that exist in the current warehouses include loading and unloading goods, storage, shelving and collecting products, labeling, packaging, and delivery, with some few administrative works needed to be done in parallel. This reflects an economic model in which goods are all produced somewhere else, imported and stored in the warehouse in bulks, packaged and delivered to costumers. What we expect in the near future, impacted by the fourth industrial revolution, would challenge this current model to shift from mass-production/storage towards the on-demand production of goods. Various parallel technologies like IoT, 3D printing, digital fabrication, and so on, will help to accomplish that. In that scenario, operations in a warehouse could go beyond the current storage-only model and include actions such as on-demand printing and binding, on-demand 3D printing and preparing parts, partial to full assembly of products, and more. This future scenario will change the employees from low-skilled workers to the variety of professions needed to work together to run such facilities. In order to fulfill all those tasks and engage all different types of professionals, future warehouses should be redefined, include additional spaces for (at least partial) production and assembly, design, prototyping or brainstorming, and many more. Future warehouses should consider recycling materials and be responsible for the entire material cycle of their products. These are going to change the operational and functional aspects of future warehouses, being addressed, and experimented in this thesis.
Cite this version of the work
Nazanin Behboodikhah Moghadam Tehrani (2020). The Future of Warehouses. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16338