IoT and the Warehouse
Connected devices and sensors are becoming increasingly important in the digital transformation of traditional operations across the supply chain. Storage, movement, and fulfillments of goods through warehouses and distribution centers, however, still suffer from damages, spoilage, and incomplete shipments. Such inefficiencies result from the limited capability of traditional means to report on real-time information on the presence of goods, their location, and condition inside the facilities
E-commerce giants like Amazon, JD, and Alibaba, on the other hand, have successfully demonstrated the capabilities and business value of utilizing increased automation through robots and IoT sensors. A large section of the industry, nonetheless, is yet to realize the full potential of IoT and the value of powerful analytics derived from the sensor generated data for optimization of their warehousing operations.
Image Credit: Dzone
Let us look at 5 Ways IoT can transform Warehouse Operations
Automation - IoT devices such as robotic units do more than just assemble orders. These devices collect tons of data, including information on stocks and inventory, the efficiency of the warehouse, and so on, allowing employees to focus on more customer-facing tasks.
Assets and Inventory - With IoT, a warehouse can be aware of each moving part. Connected sensors track each asset across the premises. Smart shelves in warehouses can broadcast inventory information and warn warehouse managers of low stock, displaced products, unsuitable temperatures, theft, and so on.
Wearables - Warehouse managers can now monitor each of their workers. Wearable devices can be distributed to all employees and used to track employee performance, health, and location inside the facility. Besides, the wearables can also report on collisions and fall thereby improving the safety of the operations.
Transportation - Telematic devices and GPS feed ensure that vehicles follow the recommended optimal route along with the constant update of ETA. Furthermore, IoT sensors tagged on the goods go beyond vehicle level tracking by offering item-level visibility. This kind of granular information will allow operation managers to be more proactive than reactive in case of the condition of the goods breaching the threshold.
Maintenance - IoT sensors can also help keep track of operating conditions of equipment and machines. Combination of these operational equipment data with advanced machine learning algorithms can predict the failures of forklifts or other critical material handling equipment. This will empower the warehouse managers to keep productivity at maximum and the cost of repairs and downtime to a minimum.
The following factors have made Smart-warehousing more imminent than ever before:
- The decreasing cost of IoT sensors over the years. From about 40$ a buck in 2012 to less than 10$ in 2018 and possibly 2$ by 2020.
- Increase in battery life with sensors lasting anywhere between 2 to 5 years making for a better ROI
- Extremely cheap computing and data processing power
- Prevalence of Low power wireless networks like LoRa, Sigfox, and NB-IoT allowing for cost-effective transmission of IoT generated data.
- Sensors to track location, detect the presence, monitor critical conditional parameters are more or less a commodity and are available off the shelf.
- Availability of a packaged, ready-to-deploy software that transforms sensor-generated data into actionable insights.
Thinking about setting up a smart warehouse by harnessing the power of IoT and Analytics?
Hopstack's hardware agnostic cloud software can be easily deployed and integrated with a whole variety of IoT devices to digitize various operations inside the warehouse facility including but not limited to detecting real-time inventory, dock monitoring, pallet tracking.