What will warehouse management be like in the future, your future? How will inventory management be handled? According to MIT Technology Review, some of that future is already on display:

A German firm called Magazino believes it has built a better warehouse robot: the Toru. Unlike the robots used in Amazon warehouses that help locate items for shipping by moving entire shelves, Toru robots can pick up individual items.

Toru robots are particularly advantageous for orders that involve several items. For a four-item order, for instance, the Amazon robot might have to bring four shelves to the shipping station and then take those shelves back, for a total of eight trips. Toru can go to each of the four shelves one after the other and deliver them all to the shipping station in one trip. And there are no shelves to return.

Intelligent moving shelves, robots picking out inventory — the future is already here, folks!

We’ve already got smartphones that do everything but babysit (and they’re working on that). How far away can the totally ‘smart’ warehouse be?

Let your imagine soar, with some of these maybe-not-too-fantastic ideas:

Drone Delivery.

For future orders what could be easier than to pull the items, drop them in a container, and then let a drone fly them straight to the customer’s site? Drones can fly at night and they don’t take any holidays, stop for pie and coffee, or get stuck in traffic. And they never get pulled over by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Plus, if you care to install a small laser on your drone, you can make sure that payment is made in a prompt and timely manner — or ZAP!

The Flying Warehouse.

On a larger scale, what if your warehouse itself could be airborne? After all, dirigibles are making a comeback, so why not build a warehouse with no foundation, ready to be wafted into the air and taken to your biggest customers? Once on the ground outside their office or factory, you simply open the doors wide and let your customers waltz in, where your friendly staff will bring them everything they’ve ordered, and give them a guided tour of the facility.

Of course, care should be taken not to land the warehouse on top of an office building or factory. This could lead to customer complaints . . . and squashed buildings!

The Rise of the 3-D Printer.

Dare it be said? Maybe in a cautious whisper . . . the advent of the 3-D printer means the end of warehouses and inventory management as we know it.¬† Right now 3-D printers are limited to using a few materials and uncomplicated designs; plus they cost a pretty penny. But what about when they are as cheap as a toaster to buy and can make anything at all outside of living organisms? At that point, every office and factory will have their own stem bolt-producing machine, and delivery and inventory will be a thing of the past. As well as a big ol’ warehouse to keep stuff in.

The solution? Look to Xerox. They developed the copy process most in use today, and so they rent out their copy machines to all comers and are making a decent profit at it. So when that day comes that the 3-D printer takes over, your company will want to make sure they have the copyright in place so that only your own devices can be used to make your inventory. You rent ’em, service ’em, and laugh all the way to the bank in your self-driving car.

This may all sound like sheer whimsy — but that’s what they said about Edison’s light bulb and the splitting of the atom; nobody’s pooh-poohing those things now.

So whether you’re a conservative Fred Flintstone or a far-looking George Jetson, make sure you call in the best warehouse and inventory consultants to keep your business viable and up to date. And that means taking advantage of Brandow Consulting, your Fishbowl experts. They keep abreast of all the latest developments in warehousing and inventory, and are only too glad to share their expertise with you whenever you need it.

And they give free rides in their time machine to regular customers!