As technology continues to advance, our ability to perform tasks faster and more efficiently with minimal hassle is constantly improving. Similarly, the concept of smart warehousing in warehouse technology is quickly becoming widely popular.
It essentially refers to incorporating Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to automate and digitize various fulfillment activities to make the warehouses fast and efficient. These solutions work with human employees to reduce errors, save time, and improve productivity and warehouse efficiency.
Efficient warehouse monitoring, reduction in human errors, lower returns, better visibility of assets, improved customer experience, and faster shipping are some of the main benefits of a smart warehouse.
On-floor associates can be freed up to focus on more strategic and value-driven activities or guide the machines while they execute a specific task.
What is a Smart Warehouse?
A Smart warehouse means a warehouse with a set of automated systems and solutions to conduct warehouse operations. It can include both warehouse automation software and hardware like machines and robotics for smart warehouse management.
These warehouses run more effectively than conventional warehouses because they are equipped with sensors and other digital technologies.
For instance, the software can be used to improve the structure of the warehouse and sensors can be used to track the location of inventory as it moves through the warehouse. This lessens the time staff spend walking throughout the warehouse and lowers the chance of mistakes.
Smart warehouses are becoming increasingly popular as companies explore ways to cut costs and boost productivity. Smart warehousing operations include frequent usage of robots and automated conveyor belts that can move inventory from one place to another.
This warehouse technology further lessens the requirement for human work and enables the warehouse to operate twenty-four hours a day.
As the rivalry for eCommerce clients intensifies, more businesses are looking to embrace smart warehouse technologies to transform into futuristic warehouse to stay ahead of the curve.
Top 6 Smart Warehouse Benefits
1. Better Warehouse Optimization
Warehouse workflow optimization and efficiency can be immensely improved by integrating smart warehouse technology. Advanced analytics driven by machine learning algorithms help warehouse operators to manage inventory flow, maximize storage, and reduce process chokepoints.
The data-driven approach helps keep a tab on the key metrics and enables the warehouse to have a streamlined operation and, in turn, offer better customer service.
Such advanced technologies can also detect problems and potential risks early in the supply chain. Having data around inventory and supplier risks empowers warehouse managers to be more proactive than reactive.
2. Minimize Operations Cost
Operational costs are one of the biggest warehouse challenges. Minimizing warehouse operational costs require smarter and optimized solutions with a perfect mix of technology and human resources.
By integrating automated vehicles, robotics, smart warehousing technology, WMS, etc. can make the warehouse operations more efficient and optimized, requiring less human efforts and intervention.
3. Quick Shipping, Picking and Packing
Shipping, picking, or packing takes up most of the daily time for warehouse managers and associates who don’t have warehouse technology in place. Smart warehouse solutions can bring faster order picking, packing and processing times.
Smart picking devices such as pick-to-light, wearable scanners, smart glasses, and picking robots can drastically reduce the time needed to search, verify, and choose an item from the storage bin.
Similarly, adding parcel sorters and conveyors to the shipping workflow can eliminate misplacement and incorrect labeling of packages. Thus, faster picking and error-free shipping can shorten the order lead times.
Shorter fulfillment cycles offer the competitive edge you need in a world that is gradually getting used to same-day shipping.
4. Greater Accuracy in Warehouse Operations
A typical warehouse IoT operation consists of several processes and steps susceptible to errors. These errors can set up the entire business for a substantial operational loss if not identified and resolved on time.
Enabling higher accuracy and effectiveness at every stage of the order fulfillment lifecycle is one of the key advantages of smart warehousing technology. This can also reduce the number of lost, expired or damaged items, improving overall inventory management.
5. Improved Customer Service
The key aim in warehousing should be to focus on seamless customer services with premium experience and satisfaction. As every product from your warehouse eventually will end up with customers.
Smart warehousing enables companies to fulfill the ever-changing needs of customers seamlessly, provide unmatched support, improve customer interactions and enhance overall customer experience.
With faster shipping, reduced costs, and prompter responses, businesses can build a satisfied customer base. This will also result in a better customer experience and customer satisfaction
6. Better Tracking of Assets and Inventory
Efficient inventory tracking is one of the biggest concerns for most warehouses. Knowing where a specific product is in the supply chain can help you gain insights about the orders processed, improve supply chain planning, and estimate when the next batch of products might be needed to prevent a stock-out situation.
So, RFID tags, barcodes, integrated sensors, and other latest technologies provide unparalleled visibility of product movement and inventory status in a smart warehouse.
Read Also: Digital Transformation of the Warehouse
Top 6 Smart Warehouse Technologies & Their Implementation
Smart warehouses rely heavily on the latest smart warehouse technologies that make smart warehouse operations optimized and smarter. Smart warehousing entails a broad spectrum, from enabling paper-free operations to installing autonomous robots.
Below is the list of 6 must-have smart warehouse technologies that have a huge impact on warehouse automation and also how you can implement them on in your warehouse.
1. Autonomous Mobile Robots
They are intended to work in tandem with the floor associates to ensure a seamless, optimal, and error-free goods movement flow. Also, the most current robotic systems in smart warehouse technology are called cobots, and they are intended to work alongside warehouse staff.
Cobots are easy to program, fast to set up, flexible, and safe to use within the warehouse. To prevent damage, the cobot can be taught how to grasp an object or how quickly to move something by the human operator.
2. Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is getting increasingly popular in the smart warehouses space. Smart IoT devices range from picking devices, sensors, and robots to ASRS systems communicating operational data in real time to the central warehouse system.
Such granular real-time data becomes a valuable input source for machine learning algorithms to learn and optimize recommendations.
Whether manual or automated, the IoT system synchronizes all data in an accessible network, helping to improve labor planning, customer experience, and inventory control with a double impact if coupled with an automated inventory control platform.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Analyzing a large amount of data accumulated during smart warehouse operations can be vital to optimizing various processes. The AI-driven approach can assist with predicting Inventory demands, optimizing picker routes, enabling dynamic task allocation, and handshakes on the floor.
Using Artificial Intelligence will reduce labor costs for the entire warehouse compared to the traditional warehouse. AI as a smart warehouse technology can refine the inventory forecasting, optimization, and management process seamlessly.
4. Warehouse Management Systems
A modern warehouse software or warehouse management system with advanced features and futuristic innovation can act as a central operating system to manage warehouse operations and workflow in real-time endlessly.
Moreover, the automation systems can act as a bridge between the warehouse technology hardware like sensors, robots, etc. with softwares like ERPs, WMS, Inventory management system and shipping software.
Beyond these features, the warehouse management system must have advanced analytics for predictive metrics and innovative depth to make useful and valuable recommendations.
5. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)
AGVs can maximize warehouse space while minimizing the need for new fulfillment and distribution facilities to be built.
Some examples of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are pallet carts and forklifts that are self-guided and follow digital paths within the warehouse as they load and unload containers, boxes and pallets.
AGVs handle hazardous circumstances more efficiently while reducing material damage and improving inventory accuracy.
6. Automated Picking Tools
Automated picking components in smart warehouse technology can help the warehouse achieve optimum picking rates. Within this grouping, there are numerous different tools (like voice automated picking and pick-to-light).
The WMS should be designed to accommodate these technologies for efficient smart warehouse operations. It enhances picking by accelerating it, optimizing labor allocation, and lowering human error.
Building smart warehouses is essential to stay competitive with the rapidly evolving consumer expectation and the disruptions caused by the current pandemic.
Forward-thinking businesses are catching up with the idea of smart warehousing, slowly but surely.
Several enterprises are substituting spreadsheets, legacy systems, and other rudimentary processes with some of the mentioned smart warehousing components.
Eager to know how you can make your warehouse smarter? Get in touch with us today!