Streamlining Your Warehouse Management with Digitalization | Eastern Peak

The 4th Industrial era has brought to life many innovative technologies; as they become mainstream, clients’ expectations increase as well. To stand up to competition and to meet the growing demands for agility and accuracy, enterprises have to undergo a digital transformation.

As an integral part of the retail and manufacturing enterprise ecosystem, warehouses also need to scale up to meet market demands for increased operational efficiency and deliver fast time-to-value. The future lies in digitized warehousing, and those enterprises who have harnessed warehouse automation will have the upper hand.

Back in 2015, a survey conducted by Zenra had shown 70% of C-level executives were planning to automate their warehouse operations over the course of 5 years. Now, the percentage of companies that are already leveraging warehouse automation has increased to the point where any laggers will simply be driven out of business.

Digital warehousing goes hand in hand with warehouse automation: the process of leveraging technologies to perform tasks previously involving human labor.

In this article, we will focus on warehouse automation solutions, their benefits, and examine how you can tell if your warehouse is in dire need of digitization. For insights on how to incorporate automation into your warehouse, read on.

What is warehouse automation?

Warehouse automation is now tackling repetitive and monotonous tasks and enables employees to focus on matters requiring human involvement. Yet, labor costs reduction and workforce reorientation are just some of the benefits of warehouse automation.

So how does automation impact warehouse efficiency?

  • Accelerating warehouse processes: the most vivid effect of warehouse digitalization is the increased speed of warehouse operations. Not only do automated systems account for enhanced accuracy, they also enable warehouse workers to carry out routine operations faster than ever before. With today’s business demand for fast time-to-value, this benefit is hard to ignore.
  • Increasing transparency: always being aware of the exact stock quantities as well as the state of the available stock has a number of subsequent advantages. Eliminating stock misplacement, forecasting demand and planning supply, issuing purchase orders and automated procurement, deriving business insights, and generating sales reports are the positive disruptive effects automated and completely transparent smart warehousing can bring.
  • Eliminating errors and fallacies: humans will be humans, after all. No matter how focused they are, there’s only so much they can pay attention to simultaneously. They are also too easily distracted and often make mistakes. Warehouse automation reduces human error to an absolute minimum, so you can rest assured no process remains unattended and no important detail escapes scrupulous attention. Ultimately, warehouse automation helps avoid accounting errors and tax issues, which is an important benefit.
  • Real-time synchronization: on top of that, based on data obtained from IoT sensors, RPA algorithms can sync inventory databases with billing systems and financial data. Also, dispatching trucks and initiating deliveries can now be done almost instantly. Thus, digital warehousing increases the overall efficiency and transparency of the entire supply chain.

Read also: How to Optimize Supply Chain through IoT, Analytics and Automation

  • Increased mobility: the cloud has greatly contributed to increasing workforce mobility by granting access to warehouse databases anytime from anywhere. Employees no longer have to be physically present to make weighted data-driven decisions and act on them.
  • Improved warehouse space management/optimization: applied to facilitate automatic warehousing, IoT helps improve warehouse space management. By reporting exactly how much space is available, smart warehousing systems provide insights into better space utilization, optimal allocation and redistribution of assets, etc.

Obviously, all of the above accounts for an increase in transparency, enhanced operational efficiency, accuracy and fast-time-to-value, and gives enterprises a distinct competitive edge

Warehouse automation solutions

1.Real-time data collection

2. Connectivity

For example, a sensor may inform the storage camera that the product temperature exceeds critical levels, and the storage camera will automatically change storage temperature. Monitoring the state of equipment will help make timely repairs and avoid extra expenditures.

3. Machine Learning and advanced data analytics

Forecasting demand and planning procurements, scheduling repairs and tech upgrades is now performed on the basis of insights derived from historical data. Inventory optimization as well as increased operational efficiency are just some of the positive outcomes of using ML and predictive analytics in a warehouse.

4. Machine to human interactions

By using AR technology, smart glasses can communicate with smart product tags enabling employees to quickly view inventory-related data: type, delivery and dispatch info, manufacturing dates, etc. Apart from facilitating on-site operations, wearables can also monitor employee health status by tracking pulse and body temperature.

5. Warehouse mobility

6. Robotic solutions for warehouse automation

Modern robots are getting smarter every day. They self-learn and no longer require human programming. They are being developed with human-like capabilities, such as sensory recognition, skill, and intellect.

7. Drones and autonomous guided vehicles

In terms of warehouse automation, using drones also plays a major part. Inside the digitized warehouse, drones have wide application. Equipped with cameras, sensors and barcode scanners, quick and nimble drones can easily perform inventory counts and get to places that humans normally find hard to reach.

8. Real-time inventory management

Again, smart sensors, RFID (radio-frequency identification) systems, and GPS navigation will serve as a means to ensure end-to-end visibility and collect data which warehouse managers can instantly act on.

9. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS)

10. Warehouse management systems

Available in a comprehensive format, this data enables warehouse management to act quickly even in unforeseen circumstances and make accurate data-driven decisions.

11. Automated picking tools

If you’ve been wondering why automation is needed in a warehouse and how warehouse automation actually works, these vivid examples should give you a clear picture and demystify the concept of smart warehousing.

But how can you tell your warehouse is in need of automation? Read on for the list of symptoms and see if any of them apply to you.

Signs that your warehouse needs automation

  1. Lack of clarity as to stock numbers: you are frequently undertaking stock counts and are still uncertain about the exact numbers of stock available. Your stock is often lost, misplaced or broken, and you are frequently either out of stock or overstocked. All in all, it’s a sign your warehouse could do better with more transparency. Lack of accuracy when it comes to stock counts and availability of assets and inventory is an indication that your warehouse ecosystem is opaque and would benefit from automated inventory management.
  2. Slow loading and dispatch processes: if picking items from the warehouse to assemble orders takes forever and the dispatch process is often too slow, it’s a sign pickers find it difficult to locate the inventory. This is also a major indication that implementing a management solution should help.
  3. Lack of warehouse space: somehow you find it difficult to locate free shelves to place inventory. You are contemplating moving to larger facilities, but aren’t certain that would help. This is a sign you could use warehouse space management systems to help use your existing facilities more efficiently.
  4. Too much paperwork: your employees are struggling with paper-based documentation and Google Docs are being used to optimize at least some of the document flow, but it doesn’t really help. This is an indication your inventory transactions should be integrated into an ERP system.
  5. Too many shipment errors and returns: the level of inaccuracies and fallacies is frustrating. Because of so many mistakes, you have to frequently handle returns, you are losing money and customers aren’t happy. This is a direct result of the overall opaqueness of your warehouse management system and a call for digitalization that should ensure accuracy by improving visibility.
  6. You have too many employees and you’re still hiring: you are spending too much on salaries, but it seems like your existing staff can’t handle your warehouse processes. Digital warehousing should help you automate routine rule based tasks, optimize employee numbers and use your human workforce more effectively.
  7. Workplace safety issues and employee injuries: this is a critical symptom, and is a good indication that things have gone out of hand. Your warehouse is messy, there’s lack of end-to-end visibility, and the risks are hard to predict. This situation could lead to court suits and has the potential to derail your business reputation. In this case, investing into a smart warehousing system should prove you are a responsible employer.

Streamlining warehouse operations with Eastern Peak

If you are considering partnering with a reliable warehouse automation solutions provider to guide you through all the important stages of this complex process, you’re on the right track. Request for an in-depth consultation with Eastern Peak professionals now and start working on your warehouse transformation plan.

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