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IoT and the smart warehouse

How warehouse management systems are transforming operations

August 22, 2019

A digital transformation of the warehouse is now underway. A recent study found that more than 50% of warehouse executives plan to implement warehouse management systems (WMSs) in the near future. They’re investing in IoT-driven inventory tracking solutions and other technology to improve transparency in the supply chain and streamline the delivery of goods.
 
A steady read on inventory 
RFID tags, beacons and sensors installed in products and materials deliver ongoing data, providing visibility into an organization’s inventory at all times and locations—whether goods are in the warehouse or in transit. This ensures that the right amount of goods is shipped to the right place at the right time (at the right price)—and that the warehouse accommodates for the resulting loss of inventory. Use of this technology has been shown to minimize damage prevention and increase inventory accuracy by as much as 95%.
 
Facilitating workflow automation
The WMS captures order requests from customers and allocates existing inventory to fill them. Then voice and light-directed software systems provide instructions to warehouse workers to help facilitate and ensure the efficiency of the “pick-and-pack” process.
 

WMSs are used to improve and streamline other job functions as well, including:

  • Warehouse design—To ensure a warehouse is set up for optimal inventory allocation, a WMS establishes bin slotting that maximizes storage space and allocates for seasonal variations in inventory.
  • Shipping records—The WMS generates bills of lading, barcode labels, packing lists, invoices and advanced shipping notifications.
  • Employee management and performance analysis—A WMS helps warehouse managers monitor workers’ performance, based on key performance indicators (KPIs), and analyze the performance of overall warehouse operations and where improvements can be made.
  • Examples of a WMS in action
    DHL, the global logistics company, has implemented an IoT-driven warehousing system to improve operational efficiency and employee safety. So has the e-tailing giant Amazon, which now also employs more than 100,000 robotic assistants globally to allocate and move merchandise to fill orders.
From automotive to foodservice and from electronics to pharmaceuticals, a WMS saves money and helps companies make more of it. By reducing wasted warehouse space and shipping errors and automating routine manual tasks, WMSs are delivering outstanding ROI—and it can do the same for your customers.
 
If you have someone who’s in the market for warehouse management technology, contact our IoT experts.