With modern Internet of Things (IoT) business solutions, many industrial operations have transitioned from manual procedures to digital interactions. As the Internet, data storage, analytics, and sensors become more affordable, quicker, higher-quality, and better integrated, IoT devices are being worked into virtually every industry – including warehouse operations. Read on to learn about the numerous benefits of utilizing IoT solutions for warehouse management.
Warehouse Inventory Management – What Is It and Who Uses It?
The aim of effective warehouse inventory management is to efficiently coordinate and control the movement of products within a warehouse’s operations. Such operations include:
- Receipting inbound goods
- Tracking movement throughout the warehouse
- Maintaining the quality of products during storage
- Making sure the pallet racking or shelving is up to code
Warehouse management systems are tools that businesses purchase and use to satisfy demands from their distribution channels and supply chains when spreadsheet tracking just won’t cut it.
So, then, how exactly do you apply IoT in warehouse management? An IoT warehouse uses innovative technology to automate processes and reduce labor costs.
For instance, IoT- integrated RFID (radio frequency identification) tags are able to store huge data volumes – much more than standard barcodes. When a warehouse implements RFID readers, up to 200 tags can be scanned at once. The data gleaned from RFID tags is stored in a cloud-based platform and automatically processed and analyzed. Now, the manager can see condensed inventory data in a concise way through a visual dashboard. Expiration dates, serial numbers, sizes, manufacturers, and many more product characteristics can be added to the dashboard without any manual input.
Another way that IoT tech can be integrated into a warehouse is through wearables. Warehouse workers can use connected devices to improve operational effectiveness. One such example is voice picking systems. They allow your warehouse employees to work hands-free; these devices are able to reply to voice commands, giving directions and guiding workers through their order list. There are also wearables that track the accuracy of product picking and keep track of employees’ performance. These devices use speed, motion, and GPS detectors to flag operational inefficiencies.
Sensors are another form of IoT tech that can improve warehouse processes – they enable managers to keep better control over the warehouse’s merchandise. The warehouse’s humidity, temperature, vibrations, and light motion can be tracked, thus reducing the cost of spoiled goods.
Challenges of Traditional Warehouse Inventory Management – And How IoT System Management Can Help
There are several challenges inherent to traditional (aka: manual) warehouse inventory management. However, IoT solutions for warehouse management can drastically reduce these occurrences – or, at the very least, make it easier to handle them.
Challenge 1: Locating Inventory
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact location of every product in a warehouse – especially one with multiple floors. IoT warehouse management allows for the tracking of products across all floors.
Challenge 2: Monitoring Changes in Inventory
Do you know what is coming in and out of your warehouse? Are you forecasting and managing demand accurately? If not, IoT solutions for warehouse management can not only track product movement but also use analytic models to predict future demand.
Challenge 3: Using Warehouse Space Efficiently
Is your inventory being stored efficiently and in a manner that allows it to be picked off the shelves quickly? Setting up the perfect storage system manually takes lots of trial and error. However, IoT-integrated systems can configure an ideal and efficient layout with little effort on your behalf.
Challenge 4: Maintaining Equipment
If your equipment fails, you will have to deal with downtime that will not please your distributors. Luckily, IoT solutions for warehouse management have the capabilities to track the performance and condition of your equipment.
Challenge 5: Storing Inventory Properly
Is your warehouse at an ideal temperature for upholding the quality of heat-sensitive products? An IoT warehouse system is able to monitor temperatures and other environmental parameters – therefore keeping you out of situations where food products lose their freshness.
Benefits of Using IoT for Warehouse Management
We’ve addressed the challenges the IoT warehouse management can assuage – now it’s time to take a deeper look at its advantages.
- Reduced labor costs: An average warehouse that has 100 non-supervisory employees might spend up to $3.7 million per year in labor expenses – this adds up to an astonishing 65% of their operating budget. When you use IoT-integrated warehouse management, you are cutting down the amount of time it takes to shelve products, find products, map ideal layouts, check equipment for maintenance, and more. With the automation of tasks comes huge cost savings.
- Better utilization of space: The average warehouse size is approximately 180,000 square feet. While this may seem spacious, nearly half of warehouse managers have trouble managing the space effectively. IoT warehouse management systems help the managers accommodate as many goods as possible with the space that they have. Programs can track the arrival and departure of goods and, thus, easily find empty spots for the allocation of products.
- Real-time data sharing:. Let’s say, for instance, that your IoT warehouse stores food products that must be kept at a certain temperature range. If the warehouse environment gets close to leaving that range, alerts are sent out so that the manager can take preventative steps and avoid product wastage.
- Global supply chain visibility: About 1/3 of warehouses do not use adequate information support systems. This means that they aren’t gaining comprehensive data on their market’s supply and demand. With the advanced analytics available in IoT warehouse management software, a manager is able to view the different logistics levels and take the market status into account when optimizing operations. When you incorporate IoT into your warehouse analytics, you can then manage procurement, scheduling, and other operations based on inventory stock levels.
Optimize Your IoT Smart Warehouse With Intetics
The implementation of IoT in warehouse management systems allows managers to optimize procedures and tasks in accordance with advanced analytics. The need for manual intervention has been reduced, and warehouses can fully optimize allocated space for goods. Furthermore, IoT sensors allow the quality maintenance of perishable goods.
Intetics can help you deploy the most efficient software integrated with IoT devices of any kind to digitize various operations inside the warehouse facility, including real-time inventory tracking, workflow visibility, and demand prediction algorithms. If you’re ready to automate your warehouse processes and save time and resources, reach out to our team for a consultation.