Determining which technology trends will prevail and deliver commercial value is a mixture of art and science. Our team keeps a close watch on technology innovation, and, in addition to our tech and industry expertise, we have the advantage of working closely with clients every day to understand which warehouse automation trends will last the test of time.
These four solutions are on the top of our list for becoming standard in the supply chain industry. See how we think you can best use them – now and in the future – to benefit your business.
Internet of Things
Industrial IoT (IIoT) gives warehouses a way to connect machines, devices, and even inventory to the warehouse management system (WMS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. With sensors and devices continually sharing location, environmental and operational data with the network, warehouses can automate systems and track inventory in real time. Additionally, IIoT systems can monitor machine conditions so warehouses can schedule service before small issues lead to downtime.
In a recent Microsoft and Intel survey, 86% of respondents saw the need to monitor overall equipment effectiveness as a missions-critical KPI. Working with an experienced industry partner can help you select, image, and manage hardware, deploy cellular failover, and systems that enable inventory visibility in addition to helping you oversee monitoring your devices and their connections.
When building an IIoT network, particularly when it relies on devices with SIM cards to communicate with the network, cellular data management is an essential part of the solution. This will ensure your data costs are affordable by taking advantage of discounted data rates. A trusted IIoT provider partner can also monitor and manage data outages that might be difficult for your team to detect.
RFID: Smaller & Smarter
RFID has been the quintessential automated data collection tool for more than a decade. New, exciting updates for RFID include the ability to create increasingly smaller tags – thanks to 3D printing – with increasingly larger amounts of memory. These updates, along with reusable RFID tags, makes this an eco- and capital-conscious warehouse tool.
The main benefits of RFID over barcodes? RFID readers can collect data from RFID tags from a greater distance, they don’t require a line of sight, and can scan multiple tags at once, ideal for high-volume warehouses. The traceability and supply chain visibility RFID tags provide is used in many facets of the supply chain, from locating assets to tracking packages from the distribution center to the customer or retail location.
Data collection systems leveraging RFID technology can produce much more data than barcode systems – sometimes exponentially more – which requires more data storage. Whether your system reads 100 or 100,000 tags, cloud storage provides the scalable storage necessary for RFID system data and the ability to access it as needed for real-time visibility into operations. Visibility at this level is a game-changer for many in the supply chain industry.
Mobile solutions keep employees connected to the WMS or ERP system so they can collect data and share it in real time. Mobile solutions, like wearable tech, allow employees to work hands free, eliminate time-consuming, paper-based processes, and reduce human error with apps that streamline workflows. Warehouses can also use voice-directed picking to improve accuracy.
Warehouses that rely on mobile devices to enhance productivity and accuracy need to make sure they’re maintained and operational. Warehouses also need a way to manage devices, push updates, and keep them secure. In short, mobile device deployments need mobile device management (MDM).
An industry partner with a track record of successful mobile deployments will help with MDM in addition to device selection, and software and apps to support your workflows. When evaluating partner relationships, prioritize hands-on support that stays with you for the entire life of your devices.
Robotics for Warehouse Automation
Currently, one of the biggest warehouse automation trends is robotics in the warehouse. For example, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) like those from Fetch Robotics can save several steps in the pick-and-pack process either completely autonomously or with human-assist. Robots translate to a decreased labor demand, especially critical during labor shortages, and less traffic on the warehouse floor. In many cases this makes for a safer working environment for everyone in the building.
DecisionPoint for All Your Automation Needs
Keeping up with warehouse automation trends requires expertise, and it’s wise to trust your investment to a seasoned partner that can support your needs. DecisionPoint Systems offers industry-leading cellular data management solutions, a user-friendly hardware monitoring and ticketing system, MDM, and advice for building an IT roadmap that includes warehouse automation and robotics.
DecisionPoint Systems can also provide guidance on lowering total cost of ownership (TCO) by leveraging relationships with industry partners and helping you take advantage of rebate opportunities like the GoZebra trade-in program that helps reduce CapEx during investments. Ready to see how warehouse automation can benefit your operation? Contact us today.