The Smart Warehouse: How IoT Devices Have Changed the Way we Work
The IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of connected devices that share data via the internet. There are over 22 billion internet-enabled devices worldwide and that number keeps on growing. To keep up with competition, investing in IoT for your company is now a necessity, not an option.
When one thinks of IoT devices, the go-to image is Alexa or other voice assistants and their ability to control your TV and lights. However there is so much more to IoT its applications in warehouses and logistics provide an insurmountable number of benefits, including but not limited to:
- Helping to bridge the gap between the warehouse and physical stores
- Boosting productivity and efficiency in warehouse procedures
- Creating higher data accuracy in supply chain planning and management
- Minimising stock loss from damage or spoiling
- Improving forecasting accuracy
- Reducing risk of accident and injury to staff
- Reducing monotonous task loads for employees
- Simplifying reporting documentation for easy tracking and planning
- Reducing downtime through early issue detection in machinery
IoT for Warehouse Accuracy
The right system of IoT devices can provide information on the availability of every individual product in a warehouse. With sensors connected to smart data management systems, the location and quantity of a specific product line is accurately and easily trackable, which comes with multiple advantages.
Smart technologies in warehouses and transportation can monitor storage conditions and automatically adjust them to the optimum temperature, moisture or pressure. This reduces loss through spoiling whilst increasing customer satisfaction in good quality products.
A sensor system and accurate data management can quickly alert theft and provide a means of fast retrieval of stolen goods and is also more likely to identify the thief.
Having highly accurate data helps to optimise product planning, you’ll know when stock is low on a particular item and be able to accurately forecast the future demand. Once you have a system for producing accurate data in place, what you do with it is entirely up to you.
IoT Solutions for Warehouses
Smart warehouse management systems
Setting up a smart management system is the best way to keep on top of everything that happens in your warehouse. These systems’ seamless real-time tracking, reporting and managing of items and can also help assess efficiency of your employees and can even provide a portal for doing your taxes. Many systems produce the data in a clear, visual display making it easy to understand.
Multy Lift’s INSPIRE Online Fleet Management System provides reports, analysis performance and status of your MHE fleet.
Autonomous Guided Vehicles and robots
AGVs can calculate the shortest routes to aisles and can travel safely at faster speeds than human-driven machines. Amazon famously utilises over 100,000 robots in their warehouses. When using IoT to automate repetitive tasks like picking and packing, it reduces the margin of human error, whilst freeing up your staff to carry out other tasks.
Drones were thrown into the logistics and distribution spotlight when Amazon announced their drone delivery service in 2016, however drones have actually been used in warehouse operations for almost a decade. Drones can scan and monitor items and record their location, which is especially great for high racking, they also place staff at less risk of falling and minimise the need for nightshifts.
Blockchain item tracking
There are several advantages to using blockchain for real-time data, from accurate forecasting to instant product visibility, both in terms of location and sales performance. Blockchain can help to quickly detect issues such as incorrect transportation conditions, poor packaging integrity or theft.
This nifty device allows employees to pick items and effortlessly transport them across the warehouse without moving from their seat. They are easy to use and take less time than memorising the location of hundreds of products.
Sensors have a wide range of applications in logistics. Some detect floor anomalies, spotting potential hazards before accidents occur. Others can monitor temperature and humidity inside trucks or even the vital signs of your employees and can help to maintain better control of stock.
Radio-frequency Identification tags hold considerably larger quantities of data than barcodes. They can provide serial numbers, manufacturer info, expiration dates and much more, with one simple scan. An average RFID reader can scan up to 200 tags at any given time and at a faster rate than a barcode reader.
Thermostats and lighting
Ensure that both your staff and stock are at a comfortable, maintained temperature and at a safe level of lighting to meet health and safety working requirements. Smart thermostats enable heating or cooling to be monitored and adjusted from anywhere at any time.
Predictive Maintenance System
A predictive maintenance system detects early signs of malfunction, so that spare equipment can be prepared or maintenance can be scheduled to avoid downtime.
A network of IoT devices working together can completely change how a warehouse operates. Forklifts are transformed by sensors, RFID readers and on-board intelligence, making the workplace safer and more controlled than before. There are forklift readers available that will revolutionise your current fleet without having to invest in smart forklifts. Browse our new and used range of forklifts to expand your fleet today.
IoT technology can be expensive but the long-term advantages make the investment worthwhile. IoT reduce workplace risk, ensure minimal product loss and streamline operations, there will always be a need for humans in the warehouse, but smart devices make their jobs just that little bit easier.