Smooth operator: Supply chain management with smart warehousing

Devices like WMS, sensors, RFID tags, and AGVs in a smart warehouse are connected and communicate information regarding the products, their location, status, etc.

Anish Popli Portrait
Anish Popli Portrait

By Anish Popli

In supply chain management, transportation, logistics and other core activities like inventory management play vital roles in ensuring cost and time savings. One of the trends reinventing supply chain management is smart warehousing powered by the Internet of Things (IoT). It replaces traditional methods with technology and devices powered by the IoT to enable swift record-keeping, increased accessibility, tracking and monitoring of all activities and resources within the warehouse facility.

Why smart warehousing is necessary for SCM today?

The introduction of IoT and modern technology into warehouses poses a lot of benefits and helps remove several challenges for the supply chain management.

  • It reduces human error for complex and large orders with scanner systems or automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for accurate order packaging and shipment.
  • Inventory management can be done effortlessly and accurately by keeping track of inventory in real-time.
  • Keeping track of existing inventory, shipment details and tracking and makes on-demand logistics possible even in high demand seasons.
  • Reduces reverse logistics. Smart warehousing solutions aid accurate order processing and shipping, saving costs and time.
  • Obtain real-time data of inventory, processes and logistics from aggregated sources.

Smart warehousing solutions that make supply chain management and logistics easier have seen large investments and interests lately, especially by online retailers and e-commerce businesses. Warehouse robotics help increase accuracy, saving time and reducing labour. With automated picking technology, robotics have shown to pick 3-4 times than usual with increased accuracy. AI can be used to study data for demand forecasting and make business decisions on the go. A centralised warehouse management system for smart warehouses powered by automated systems ensures quality inventory management and logistics.

In smart warehouses, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), such as forklift AGVs, towing AGVs, and unit load handlers are used for lifting, loading, shifting, etc., by following guided paths and sensors, thus increasing worker safety, reducing labour costs and time, and making operations smoother.

Devices like WMS, sensors, RFID tags, and AGVs in a smart warehouse are connected and communicate information regarding the products, their location, status, etc. These data can also be used for supply chain analytics to make improvisations in business silos and operations, manage inventory, logistics tracking, and also for dean forecasting.

Smart warehousing in action
Honeywell implemented a voice technology solution for warehouse workers to run operations using their voice. With the use of ergonomic headsets, wearable mobile devices and harnessing speech to text and text to speech technology, Honeywell workers are given audible commands and instructions on warehouse operations with detailed walkthroughs for inventory management, replenishment, maintenance and repairs in the warehouse.

DHL implemented an AR-based vision picking pilot programme for warehouse management. Using vision picking glasses, operators are able to work hands-free and perform regular and complex tasks with efficiency and better knowledge of the operation and tasks.

As technology evolves, businesses that realise its potential and make investments in automation systems and centralised technology will soon begin to thrive in this competitive market.

The writer is CEO & founder of ProcMart, an online B2B marketplace

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