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There are several acronyms used in the logistics world. One of those acronyms is trending so much that it has become somewhat of a buzzword in the industry.
This acronym is IoT, short for the Internet of Things.
IoT impacts virtually every part of the modern world. And as more technology is introduced, levels of communication and automation are at an all-time high. Add smart technology to the mix and things get even more simple.
For those not quite familiar with the concept, I0T all boils down to finding ways of syncing tools wirelessly. This helps to improve communication, stream data and reduces a few of the flaws of the human element from the equation. It’s comprised of multiple mechanical, digital, and computing systems that work together to automate and simplify data collection, equipment operation, and even human-based workflow.
IoT is a part of daily life in most modern warehouses. From the Wi-Fi that connects order management systems to the warehouse floor to the use of robotic unloaders to unload those products across various hubs, IoT is more than prevalent.
With all this technology available, the question remains... how to best utilize this technology to improve efficiency even further?
The modern-day supply chain was one of the first industries to implement IoT technology into their daily operations.
The implementation of Wi-Fi connected equipment including handheld digital scanners, RFID tags, and automatic inventory control systems. This is what initially kicked off the Internet of Things movement within the logistics space.
Today, the internet, coupled with wireless technology has a hand in multiple daily operations. In fact, IoT touches most areas of the supply chain in some form but has rapidly had an impact in warehousing and fulfillment centers, specifically.
Within warehouse operations, IoT has created a technological hive of activity. Its use is a major driving force that helps managers and employees better organize storage, locate products quicker, improve order picking, expedite shipping and automatically update the inventory.
It also provides managers with more accurate metrics of their operations. This all in of itself allows them to fine-tune their strategies to better serve customers, reduce payroll, or improve safety in the warehouse, as well.
A warehouse is a bustling hub of activity that is mainly responsible for the storage of products awaiting shipment.
Between warehouses and distribution centers there is a large potential for lapses in communication, inaccurate inventory numbers or data stream issues. This is a major reason why warehouse operators look to integrate technology into their warehouse operations. With technology, they can improve the consistency of data flow and reduce the potential of mistakes.
However, there is a proven strategy that all warehouse managers can implement that will reduce headaches, expenses, and ensure the technology is integrated without significantly impacting daily operations.
Here are three best practices for leveraging IoT integration for warehouse or fulfillment centers.
Warehouses often deal with peaks and valleys of activity, especially during the holiday seasons.
However, most warehouses tend to deal with peak periods of activity rather well thanks to the IoT. As such, one of the first ways to better leverage your upgrades of IoT technology is ensuring that any new solution is scalable to account for that typical ebb and flow.
For warehouses, this means having the ability to add or reduce user accounts or connectivity to equipment as volume dictates. Many cloud-based solutions such as order management systems allow warehouse operators to add or subtract user accounts throughout the year, to meet with changes in staffing. Regardless of the IoT technology you’re using, make sure to ask the provider if it can be expanded upon.
A major concern for any technology solution, especially those that connect to the internet, is online security. For warehouses that maintain private or financial records of their own, verifying that any logistics IoT solution features redundant layers of security that reduce the potential of hacking attempts is a crucial step.
If your network is penetrated, it can shut down your operations completely. Not only that, but it compromises the vital records of customers and vendors and leads to significant financial loss.
Always verify that any IoT solution is safe before making the investment.
While many IoT solutions are plug-and-play solutions, most of them require training.
Working with a proven 3PL to help pick the right IoT technology ensures a seamless transition. All without impacting daily operations.
If you’re looking to upgrade the logistics IoT program for warehouses, contact a proven 3PL like Redwood Logistics first!