Today’s warehouse is far more than just a facility in which to store inventory. Leveraging the latest supply chain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), a “smart warehouse” can now serve as a hub to boost efficiency and speed throughout the entire supply chain. From wearables on workers to sensors and smart equipment, internet-enabled devices and technology can profoundly change logistics management.
The Zebra Technologies Warehouse Vision Study finds that seven in 10 decision makers plan to accelerate their use of technology to create a smart warehouse system by 2020. According to the report, “consumer expectations will drive increased investment in IT and operational functions in warehouses over the next four years as manufacturing and logistics continue to adjust to delivering directly to consumers.” Retailers alone are forecast to spend more than $2.5 billion in hardware and installation for IoT by the year 2020.
There are many advantages to creating a smart warehouse with the latest supply chain technology. Devices, sensors and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags can enable warehouse managers to know the exact location and progress of any product at any time. “Hands-free” wearables can allow workers to move about and access information and instructions from anywhere in the warehouse without being constrained by workstations. Additionally, investing in IoT can reduce the use of manual labor, increasing speed and shipping accuracy, and offer retailers an opportunity to obtain unparalleled visibility into inventory and supply chains.
Many companies are already experimenting with IoT to create smart warehouses. UPS is using smart glasses in test programs to reduce the amount of labeling on packages.