A recent study revealed that 66% of warehouses have plans to expand their technology investments by the end of 2018. We are currently in a technology transformation age that is driven by the amalgamation of global mobile connectivity, computing on demand via the cloud and the recent emergence of entirely new classes of connected things. The number of “Internet of Things” currently is about 14 billion and is set to climb up to 50 billion in the coming five years.
For manufacturers, the main aim is to improve productivity on the plant floor with technology that reduces task time and physical strain, while fulfilling customer demand effectively, at an acceptable cost. However, for such a transformation to reach its full potential, manufacturers need to focus on improving their production capability too on top of enhancing their warehousing and logistics operations. The more connected, the more effective everything will be.
Manufacturing facilities and their associated supply chains are effectively becoming platforms where employees, buildings, assets, inventory and infrastructures are more connected, more intelligent and are able to give information across and from the edge in real time. Trials arise when having to collaborate all this dissimilar information together into an intelligent enterprise platform where it can be used to make business decisions that drive real-time user experiences and actions. There begins a convergence and coordination of fixed intelligent infrastructure with the legacy mobile edge as the next wave that will transform the experience within the enterprise of the future.
Let’s look at what an Intelligent Enterprise will compromise of and the few compelling advantages that it will create
Maximizing Efficiency in Packing, Staging, Loading and Shipping
Customer satisfaction is now a major goal and differentiator in warehousing. Fast and accurate requirements set by customer standards are playing a more important role in the packing, staging, loading and shipping functions; taking advantage of processes such as load optimization and performance monitoring. A wide array of technology options is introduced to help warehouse operations give outbound material handling in order to maximize efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.
Packing stations can consist of mobile wireless computers, scanning and RFID devices, and fixed-mount kiosk solutions to increase speed and efficiency while reducing errors and damage. Packages and containers will be marked with intelligent and active tags. Employees will make use of wearable devices to see real-time updates in terms of the next steps in their workflow. Such advanced capabilities will help meet impressive targets. Robust wireless outdoor coverage of RFID and WLAN will assimilate dock and yard operations with the warehouse – providing end-to-end efficiency. Integrated video capabilities will be for quality control and proof compliance.
Automating Manual Processes
Increasing operational visibility with innovative technology and analytics is a very crucial part of creating value and being efficient. With this in mind, the industry aims to increase the number of barcoded items received at a warehouse or distribution centre by 67% currently to 84% by the end of 2018. This is to also make certain that supplier and partner processes meet requirements and use the capabilities properly. Such assists in providing support to more highly prioritized picking and storage processes and allows for greater & solid collaboration across the supply chain.
Having mentioned the above and for all it to work as supposed to, operations and IT leaders must all understand and agree on the technology systems and business processes. In a lot of organizations, difference arise, but focusing on infusing both disciplines together with a common vision is one of the most important goals in the upcoming five years.
Better Visibility Creates New Efficiencies
At the moment, manufacturers are seeking for more holistic solutions to tackle supply chain challenges. Organizations in the logistics industry, for example, are very sophisticated and complex; so simply involving parts of technology inconsistently does not make much of a difference as opposed to coming up with a solution for an entire supply chain.
One of the difficulties consumers face in logistics or large-scale transportation of materials is packing efficiency. How do you optimize a trailer load, for example, to improve both worker efficiencies and logistics costs? Advanced analytics now grant companies the ability to accurately assess the state of a trailer, check how well workers are loading vehicles and identify errors in real-time to prevent any downstream impact. All this information is readily available to managers and front-line workers, so decisions and adjustments can be made in real time. The potential impact on companies of all sizes and industries will be major.
Planning for Change
These are exciting times in the industry. With next-generation technologies, a solutions-based architecture will effectively turn the enterprise into a platform used to create better outcomes. Data will be captured in real-time from warehouse, distribution centres, hubs, depots and deliver networks and coordinated with people who will be connected via traditional devices and emerging wearable systems to allow new levels of operational efficiency.
As soon as technology makes provision for better quantification of the environment, and the context and location of workers, there will be an adoption of various wearable technologies in the enterprise space enabling a workflow that is seamless. Workers will interact with technology immediately and it will become integrated into their experience, and will effortlessly direct and inform them – increasing productivity, reducing errors and streamlining training.
Additionally, arm yourself with these 6 Ways To Implement Seamless eCommerce Warehousing!
Source: Supply Chain Minded