Reaping the benefits of IoT = A smarter warehouse

Is your WMS up to scratch to cope with these changes in IoT?

Given the forever changing business and technology landscapes, warehouse management is growing increasingly complex and critical. Now with the help of Internet of Things (IoT), 3PLs can optimise the utilisation of their warehouse space in a more robust and effective manner.

Consumer expectations continue to grow and are expected to drive continued investment in IT and operational functions in warehouses over the coming years. Now is the time to make sure your warehouse is up to the task.

Increased connectivity is everywhere, as tech companies make everything from heating systems to refrigerators internet-ready.

Today’s warehouse is far more than just a facility in which to store inventory.

Leveraging the latest supply chain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), a “smart warehouse” can now serve as a hub to boost efficiency and speed throughout the entire supply chain. From wearables on workers to sensors and smart equipment, internet-enabled devices and technology can profoundly change logistics management.

Connected devices and sensors can help manage the right quantity of products, at the right price, time and place. The objective is to manage the route (journey) of merchandise from pick-up point to end point, including pick-ups, reception, quality control, reporting and forecasting etc. Across Warehouse Management Systems, there is a need to allocate every square meter effectively to ensure easy retrieval of specific goods followed by processing, and speedy delivery. Integration of IoT with Warehouse Management System (WMS) leads to the true development of pull-based supply chains (rather than push-based).

Take the example of perishable food products. As of 2017, the U.S. and Europe accounted for approximately 60 percent of all food wasted with an average 21 percent of this waste happening due to spoilage. Some of the spoilage in the Warehouse can be prevented by using sensors to capture the data transmitted by each pallet as it arrives from the inbound gateways and record parameters like dimensions, volume capacity and sending the whole data to WMS for processing.

How? It can be achieved by moving pallets to the right location more successfully, tag transmit signals to WMS and provide real time visibility for inventory controls. If the goods are temperature-sensitive, then sensors can be used to measure humidity threshold and in case of location mismatch, the warehouse manager can be sent alerts to track its exact location.

During outbound deliveries, outbound gateway can be used to track the right order; stock levels can also be automatically updated in WMS for accurate inventory control. Cameras can be connected with gateways, and pallets scanned for damage detection. We can also monitor the health and fatigue of workers, track the fixed process paths of workers, and analyse where warehouse managers can improve walkways or change a process to make the lives of workers easier and safer.

3 Ways Supply Chains will benefit from the IoT:-

  • A Smarter Warehouse: Embracing the IoT grants supply chains the ability to operate a hyper-efficient, optimal warehouse. The result (and subsequent impact on the bottom line) is a reduction in asset losses, temperature stability, and total warehouse inventory optimisation and accuracy.
  • A Responsive, Continually Improving Supply Chain: In an omni-channel marketplace, organisations that ramp up utilisation of the IoT will enjoy a highly intelligent, transparent and responsive supply chain that continually improves itself. The IoT platform will allow supply chains to accurately locate, track and measure the movement of inventory through sensor technology and will have the agility needed to speed up or slow down based on the dictation of customer demand.
  • A Deeply Intelligent Supply Chain: With enhanced connectivity, supply chains will feel the impact of intelligence on every area of their business, including financial, customer support, marketing, sales, and operations. By boosting forecasting accuracy and demand planning capabilities, organisations will be able to focus on the right tasks at the right times, leading to significant cost and time savings.

Getting it right

With the right IoT and WMS solution in place, enterprises can connect all devices across a centralised cloud network, and capture and share their mission-critical data, allowing them to gain real-time visibility of their operations. This enhanced business knowledge can be gained through a set of enabling technologies in the areas of asset management, cloud, mobile and Big Data.

One of the key challenges in the IoT-enabled warehouse is execution, and ensuring that the warehouse management, warehouse control and building automation systems (WMS, WCS and BAS) can break out of their traditional silos. For successful IoT deployment, all of these systems must be able to integrate and share information. Warehouses that want to implement IoT technology need to establish a system that supports both legacy and new smart devices, as well as multiple connectivity options. They should also consider device management and security, along with the possibilities for application programming and analytics.

With this in mind, it’s important for executives to make decisions about how they will manage the transition to a more connected, IoT-ready facility and integrate their current warehouse management systems. In theory, this can start with point-of-sale devices that allow retail operations to more seamlessly report changes in inventory. It may also include efforts adopting systems that change temperature, lighting and other factors within a warehouse or factory to cut costs whenever possible.

Is your WMS up to scratch to cope with these changes?

While those that have been upgraded in the past few years may be built to handle the increased flow of data the IoT brings, some legacy systems may not. As such, it’s important to consider the capabilities of a new system versus the costs of sticking with an older one. This type of cost-benefit analysis will go a long way toward informing the right time for any company to step into the next generation of warehouse visibility with cloud WMS solutions.

About us

Speak to one of our team to understand how Clarus’ WMS system can cost effectively support best practice warehouse management processes, better customer service and highly efficient working for a range of warehouse operations with pay per month options and no IT infrastructure needed.

Our platform can scale from a one user, small depot system to a 100’s of user distribution centre operation. The ClarusWMS platform will cost effectively scale with your business based on demand.

ClarusWMS is a UK based supplier of warehouse management solutions with a wealth of industry experience in third party logistics, wholesale / retail distribution, online fulfillment and manufacturing warehousing.