Img Source - Danial Sabunchi
Modern technologies are constantly improving. Every day there are more and more innovative solutions and advanced automation systems, and the number of competitors in any industry is growing. For a warehouse business to keep up with the industry, it needs to increase its efficiency and productivity. To achieve this, you can use smart warehouse systems, which we will discuss in this article.
What is a smart warehouse?
The demand for logistics and warehousing services is on the rise. The growing prevalence of e-commerce pushes this industry to develop further, forcing business owners to look for new ways to work more quickly and reduce overall costs. Smart warehouse technology is currently the best solution for speeding up and simplifying warehouse operations. With it, you can optimize business processes and improve the quality of customer service.
A "smart" warehouse is described as a set of technologies that help effectively solve the problems of warehouse logistics. They are designed to automate workflows and minimize the likelihood of any possible errors. Data is used in real time, which allows you to quickly determine the need for maintenance of a particular section of the warehouse.
Using smart warehousing allows you to constantly update information about the availability of products, increase the degree of automation of warehouse processes, and optimize manual labor, which is nearly impossible in conventional warehouses. The digital system provides centralized room management and transparent analytics to further improve operations.
According to ReportLinker, the global smart warehouse systems market is projected to total $29 billion by 2028, with an average growth rate of 11.2% per annum over the forecast period. The introduction of automation in warehouses is supposed to significantly expand the sales potential, and improve the supply chain of products while reducing the number of errors.
Benefits of smart warehouses
Smart warehouse technologies are part of the Industrial Revolution Industry 4.0. They provide a new warehouse logistics approach and many benefits, from improved optimization and cost reduction to better customer service.
The implementation of smart warehousing provides management with advanced analytics that can be used to optimize business processes. The detailed analysis allows to:
- effectively manage order flows;
- eliminate bottlenecks in warehouse operations;
- monitor the KPIs;
- quickly find potential risks or problems even at the very beginning of the supply chain.
Thanks to smart warehouse solutions, it’s possible to reduce the cost of staff and order fulfillment. Technologies such as automated order processing, AGV, and inventory storage systems can be used to minimize expenses. Thanks to them, it’s possible to ensure high accuracy of order picking, reduce the need for manual labor, and optimize the working hours.
Expedited assembly and delivery process
Smart warehouse technology significantly speeds up order processing. Normally, employees spend a lot of time searching for the right products, while smart warehousing helps them reduce this time. Using pick-up robots or portable scanners enables faster product search, which contributes to speedier picking and error-free delivery of products to the consumer.
Improved asset tracking
With modern technologies (such as Bluetooth® LE, UWB, and Wireless Mesh), products and inventory can be closely monitored. System components such as beacons, barcodes, or tags allow for precise tracking of assets and other objects within the warehouse. This can improve inventory planning, prevent stockouts, and reduce the number of lost or damaged items.
Customer service improvement
Many businesses face low customer satisfaction. A smart warehouse system solves this problem and keeps the company running efficiently. With it, you can achieve faster delivery, and reduce product prices or the number of returns, which improves the quality of service and makes customers more loyal to a particular business.
Solutions to improve warehouse operations and transition to a smart warehouse
A wide range of smart warehouse solutions can be used to improve business processes. These include asset tracking, collaboration, AGV, order picking and transport optimization, and digital twins.
Asset tracking with tracking systems and IoT equipment
IoT equipment is among the most common solutions for improving warehouse operations. These are various tags, labels, and gateways that can "communicate" with each other and exchange data. Thanks to them and asset tracking systems, you can easily determine the location of objects in real time and track their movement on the map.
The tracking system can work based on various technologies, such as Bluetooth® LE, UWB, Wireless Mesh, etc. IoT sensors are installed in different warehouse parts, and, if needed, attached to equipment, vehicles, or individual products. The information that comes from these devices helps reduce errors, avoid unforeseen situations, and control the movement of an asset throughout the supply chain.
Order Picking Optimization System
Let’s explore the hardware-independent platform Fulfillment Management Kit made by Navigine, which can combine various warehouse equipment to solve specific problems. It includes the following features:
- building routes for order picking;
- real-time asset tracking;
- sending notifications based on geofences;
- optimizing the display of products, taking into account the most frequent orders;
- providing detailed analytics.
Using the Fulfillment Management Kit allows you to reduce the order assembly time by 14%. It easily integrates with any IT systems that are already in place at your company, improves warehouse performance, and provides complete transparency of warehouse operations.
Optimizing the movement of vehicles around the warehouse
Forklift drivers often find it difficult to move around warehouses because the routes are usually full of obstacles. To avoid collisions with other vehicles or collisions with people, it’s important to optimize their movement across the territory. The introduction of intelligent warehousing based on the tracking system successfully solves this problem. The system builds the most optimal route, which allows the driver to safely reach the destination and saves time.
The term AGV refers to automated vehicles that speed up the processes of product placement, inventory, and loading. They are self-driving and can be implemented in warehouses without changing the environment.
Typical examples of AGVs are pallet trucks and forklifts that move along a given route for loading/unloading boxes and containers. Thanks to them, it’s possible to increase the accuracy of inventory, reduce costs, and improve the safety of the warehouse.
Not everyone is familiar with collaborative robots (or cobots), but they are already successfully used in many large warehouses. These devices can perform several warehouse operations. They work in collaboration with staff and usually perform complex tasks such as picking or packing goods.
Unlike a human, a cobot can work without interruption, which minimizes repetitive processes. According to forecasts, the use of collaborative robots is projected to grow and by 2030 will increase by an average of 30.7%.
Digital twins are widely used in supply chain management. At their core, they are modern technology that allows you to recreate an entire logistics process to test various scenarios and modes. With the help of digital twins, you can analyze the cost-effectiveness or throughput of a warehouse, which allows you to:
- evaluate the operational efficiency of warehouse work without downtime;
- improve decision-making processes;
- plan resources and inventory;
- rationally distribute the workload and avoid overloading the staff.
If you’re interested in a smart warehouse, Navigine can provide practical tools for indoor positioning and asset tracking. Our software offers a wide range of geolocation-based features that solve many problems faced by warehouses. To get more detailed information on the products offered, please contact our managers by filling out the form on the website, or by booking a free Zoom demo with our representatives.