The tremendous changes are happening in the warehouse industry right now.
2024 Zebra Technologies Warehousing Vision Study says that 77% of decision-makers admit that augmenting employees with technology is the best way to boost automation in the warehouse and the only way to preserve competitiveness in the on-demand economy. The results of the survey show that by 2024 the application of IoT devices in warehousing will improve worker performance rather than replace them. The warehouses where a part of the inventory processes are automated with the means of technology are called smart warehouses.
How is IoT implemented in warehousing?
Any smart warehousing system project starts with the successful deployment of proper IoT equipment. The basis of this equipment is sensor devices and actuators that are embedded in devices and objects. They include barcode scanners with RFID capabilities, temperature and humidity sensors, RFID tags on parcels and pallets, GPS, speed and motion sensors embedded in wearables. These tools help to prevent accidents, effectively monitor parcels inside the warehouse, track temperature and humidity, detect operational inefficiencies, etc.
IoT data analytics generates and analyzes large volumes of unstructured data for your managers to make sense of it. The mechanism can even make predictions about customer demand, delivery time, etc.
With the help of IoT analytics, the companies get the ability to create quality things and cover the demand thoroughly, which results in better customer satisfaction and better revenue for the business.
Employees’ individual performance, the efficiency of corporate training, the accuracy of staff, and many other things can be monitored by using connected devices. Managers can even track the employees’ health conditions by checking their heartbeat through wearables.
What are the benefits of implementing IoT in warehouses?
The logistics supply chain and transportations begin with warehousing. By optimizing the first stage of the supply chain with smart warehouse technology, you get a chance to enhance the performance of the next stages of the process. You also get:
#1 Reduction of the need for manual labor and minimization of human errors
Finding skilled talents has always been a challenge. Though through the implementation of IoT in warehouse management, a large number of tasks get automated so there is no need to hire so many employees for your enterprise. Furthermore, with the help of technology, the training process also gets easier and faster. It’s been estimated that instead of 60 hours of training, only 41 hours are needed for full training of a new employee with the help of such IoT applications in the warehouse as smart glasses and voice-driven guidance platforms.
#2 More economical and speedy development
IoT solutions for warehouse management bring supply chain planning to a new level. Warehouse managers get the ability to see real-time data at every stage of development as a result of the application of machine-to-machine communication protocols and connected sensors. What is more, automated vehicles are able to calculate the shortest route for delivery which also significantly reduces time and money spendings.
#3 Enlarging the role of machinery efficiency
From the storage equipment to board computers of freighters — the IoT in warehouse management enhances analytical and real-time decisions by providing reliable ways of monitoring and increasing the life cycle of all equipment. The analyzed data gives information about microdamage, causes of malfunctioning, etc, that might have been overlooked by human staff. It gives the company ability to save time and costs and focus on other crucial aspects of the supply chain and transportation.
#4 Better goods and equipment inspection
When the products reach the warehouses, it usually takes a lot of time for the human staff to inspect the packages for damage, wastage, and other aspects. Some services (if it is a personal delivery) ask the customers to do it themselves — for better trust.
IBM, for example, is using machine learning to automate the process and make it practically invisible to the human eye. IBM Watson’s Visual Recognition helps to spot defects on-site without manual intervention, revolutionizing this part of the industry.
#5 Enhancing visibility and transparency of the inventory process
The biggest supply chain sharks are frequently located in different parts of the world. Therefore, it’s not easy to control every process to make sure everything goes smoothly. A smart inventory management system enables managers to monitor the delivery process, the current location of goods, and the speed of vehicles. If any problem arises, the company owner gets immediately informed.
These benefits act as a driving force that makes online sellers behemoths implement smart warehouse technology in their business. Though the technology is still new and in the process of constant evolution, most of the big companies have already turned into smart warehouse direction.
Examples of smart warehouse IoT applications by big companies
It’s not a big secret that Amazon possesses a massive warehouse network with hundreds of thousands of employees. But it’s also the company that keeps constantly investing in robots and other automation technologies. In 2012 with $775 million they bought a young robotics company — Kiva Systems, receiving ownership of the invention of a new breed of mobile robots that can carry shelves, reading the barcodes on the ground for directions. Nowadays more than 200,000 mobile robots cooperate with employees in Amazon smart warehouses making the same-day delivery a widespread reality.
A Chinese e-commerce giant has automated almost 70% of the warehouse processes with the help of guided vehicles called Zhu Que. Laser sensors enable their bots to identify objects, scan surroundings, and map routes. The vehicles can lift around 600 kilos at once and move at 5 meters per second speed. They are also equipped with self-charging batteries.
A UK-based online supermarket not only delivers goods to customers' homes but also produces and sells modern robotic solutions to other grocery stores. The robots are able to sort, lift, pack the goods, and handle all the shipping processes. The statistics say that robots process 3.5 million items every week. This not only indicates an extremely fast delivery process but also allows more effective space usage inside warehouses.
The Internet of Things is already happening everywhere, and the advance of technology is inevitable in each sphere. There is a simple choice for entrepreneurs: either to get into this competition and take the advantage of the top-notch IoT devices in warehousing or to be thrown away of it in the nearest future.
As a software development company, we encourage you to put the power of IoT and meet the needs of the on-demand shoppers, improve the operational efficiency of your business, and make a statement in the warehouse business. Let inVerita be your vendor in the world of smart warehouse technologies. Feel free to contact our managers to learn more about the IoT applications in the warehouse that we can offer for your product.