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Keeping the supply chain moving and factories humming

How IoT-driven smart conveyor belts improve accuracy and eliminate inefficiency

October 18, 2019

Keeping the supply chain moving and factories humming
Inventory visibility at all times is critical to successful distribution and warehousing. Without accurate and timely information about what’s entering and leaving a facility—and what may have gotten misplaced or damaged somewhere down the line—companies can end up wasting valuable time, resources and revenue.
 
A seamless way to address this issue is with smart conveyor belts equipped with IoT sensor-enabled inventory tracking technology. The sensors collect data from barcodes, RFID tags or QR codes placed on products and shipping crates. As freight comes into a warehouse, it passes under a scanner. This yields an automatic cycle count, either by base pack or individual item, so missing products can be detected in real time. Additional data alerts facility staff to product or component damage, so they can take steps to address the problem immediately.
 
Keeping manufacturing moving
Manufacturing facilities, too, can benefit from smart conveyor belt technology.
Sensors deployed along the length of the conveyor provide plant personnel with a variety of valuable information that can be used for predictive maintenance to keep the equipment running properly:
  • Voltage and temperature sensors detect how long a conveyor as been running and if any components are overheating.

  • Moisture sensors detect if there’s any product or fuel spillage that can pose a risk to equipment.

  • Vibration sensors determine any damage to motor components—or if any parts are overworking.

  • Position detectors make factory personnel aware if equipment has moved or shifted during operation.
With all of this information at their fingertips, technicians can head off technical issues and keep them from becoming major problems that could result in serious production delays. In fact, smart conveyor belts have been shown to reduce manufacturing downtime by up to 70% and prolong the lifespan of critical assets by as much as one-third.
 
Attendees at the recent Ingram Micro IoT Summit held in September had the opportunity to see this technology in action. The event, the first of its kind in the industry, showcased a smart conveyor belt from IBM, part of the company’s Watson IoT platform. Another leading innovator in supply chain and warehouse management technology, Zebra Technology, led a breakout session at the event. One of the company’s breakthrough solutions, Zebra Motionworks Warehouse, uses IoT sensors to track freight and asset utilization to prevent loss, misplacement and inefficiency.
 
“People who attended the Summit saw firsthand how IoT is transforming the supply chain—bringing a new level of precision and control to freight management,” explains Han Lien, Senior Manager, Brand Marketing – IoT at Ingram Micro.”
 
What about your customers?
Logistics companies and manufacturers that haven’t explored the possibilities of IoT yet would do well to consider how to integrate smart supply chain management technology into their operations. Check out the specific IoT logistics solutions Ingram Micro has to offer.