In today’s warehousing world the words ‘SMART Warehousing’ is increasingly becoming known. SMART Warehousing is a term used to describe the use of technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse operations.
According to Research and Markets, the market for warehouse automation technology is expected to grow to $37.6 billion by 2030. Another survey found that 27% of warehouse decision-makers plan to invest in this technology by 2024.
Technology today in the manufacturing and distribution industries has significantly advanced from the traditional processes. Smart warehouse technologies positively benefit internal operations by streamlining processes to better service customers. As warehouses move into the future the technology becomes more sophisticated.
SMART Warehousing solutions do require an investment of time and money to implement. But many companies are experiencing the payoffs by achieving…
- Reduced overhead costs
- Reduced paper waste
- Improved inventory management
- Increased order accuracy (fewer errors)
- Improved product shrinkage
- Improved shipping times
- Flexibility in hours of operation
- Greater customer satisfaction and supplier relationships
- Informed insights
- Fewer worker injuries
- Increase productivity levels
- Better system security
Implementing a smart warehouse allows businesses to advance their end-to-end operation processes. Here are some ways to make a warehouse smarter with SMART Warehousing…
Warehouse Management System Implementation
A good warehouse management system assists businesses’ essential supply chain functions as a single system allowing tracking, and managing inventory, orders, and shipments. This can be run locally or as a cloud-based service and processes can be automated eliminating manual tasks.
A Warehouse Management system assists in…
- Generating optimised warehouse layout and picking routes for workers
- Monitor and track inventory levels in real-time
- Identify Stockouts
- Automate the shipping process (generate shipping labels etc)
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems
Using an automated storage and retrieval system has machines store and retrieve inventory which improves order accuracy and decreases picking times, providing consistent performance in improving warehouse efficiencies. Some examples of Automated storage and retrieval systems are pallet lifting and lowering devices, conveyors, product retrieval machines, and warehouse control systems.
Automated Guided Vehicles
Automated Guided Vehicles (AVG) are self-driving vehicles that can be used to transport materials around a warehouse. AGVs assist in reducing labour costs and improve the efficiency of the warehouse. AGV’s can perform a variety of functions such as…
- Storing racks, pallets, or other containers
- Horizontal and vertical reel storage
- Storing pallets in warehouse racks
- Automated trailer loading and unloading
The most efficient solution to track the product traffic in a warehouse is with Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. Short for Radio Frequency Identification, RFID uses radio wave-based technology to record, track and report the inventory in real-time. The tags are attached to assets like products, pallets, bays, etc. and then scanned by RFID reader devices to track their location and movement throughout the warehouse.
An RFID scanner can read up to 1,000 tags per second simultaneously, reporting the data to the warehouse management system. This information can then be used for inventory management, order tracking, and more.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
Used to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the warehouse, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) gather knowledge and self-learning algorithms from experience. The system leverages analytics to optimise picking routes, packing processes, worker scheduling, manage inventory, identify potential bottlenecks, predict demand and market changes, and understand customer behaviour.
According to a recent report from Deloitte, 31% of businesses already use predictive analytics, and that figure is expected to increase by 48% over the next five years.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that is being integrated with ERP systems. This allows businesses to collect and analyse data from IoT devices in real-time, which can be used to improve operations and make better decisions.
This consists of having sensors connected to vital machinery or assets so that you can control all the moving parts in your warehouse. For example, sensors can tell you if a piece of machinery is operating outside the established parameters determining a requirement for immediate servicing.
Warehouse positions that are fast-paced and repetitive to deliver strict deadlines efficiently can perform these tasks with wearables to work less restricted when moving.
Examples of wearables include smart glasses, headsets, and even exoskeletons. A headset device while picking an order can receive commands for their assignment and confirm completion via voice.
Smart warehouses are leveraging various immersive reality solutions, like virtual and augmented reality, to improve warehouse operations and communication. For example, either VR or AR can be used to optimize warehouse layouts and clearly communicate visually between workers (warehouse floor and project manager/designer) at different locations, and VR is an excellent technology for things like heavy machinery training.
Automated Picking Tools
Picking orders is the most labor-intensive process of the warehouse process. Due to being prone to human errors when picking orders is undertaken manually, it can be seen as an inefficient manual process.
Automated Technology solutions can automate some or all the picking process by using RFID tags in combination with mobile-powered carts.
Collaborative robots, or “cobots,” are fully autonomous robotic technologies that work with your existing employees, not replacing them. Warehouses using cobots keep most of their existing infrastructure and processes but optimize workflows by using cobots. Cobot solutions are generally used for picking, packing, and inventory management.
Even though around 80% of warehouses still operate without automation technology solutions, the rate of investment in these areas is strongly gaining momentum as organisations future-proof their business.
Overall, SMART Warehousing solutions can help businesses improve the efficiency and accuracy of their warehouse operations. This technology efficiency leads to reduced costs, waste, and product shrinkage, improved customer satisfaction, and increased profitability.
If you are considering implementing SMART Warehousing solutions in your warehouse, it is important to carefully consider your specific needs and requirements. There are a variety of different SMART Warehousing solutions available, so it is important to choose the right solutions for your business. You should also work with a reputable SMART Warehousing provider that can provide you with the support and guidance you need to implement and use the solutions successfully.