If you’re a supply chain leader, you’ve probably found that unprecedented demands for your product, labour shortages (the right fit labour), geo-political chaos (Ukraine war), and natural disasters (Covid … or is that unnatural?) are disrupting your industry.
The VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we live in has driven more companies to embrace software, automation, robotics and the like across their supply chains.
All supply chain operations aim to make things easier and improve productivity, performance and profits. But, to do this, companies must focus on the most important thing: keeping customers happy, which is where smart warehouses come into their own.
What is a Smart Warehouse?
Simply put, it is a warehouse designed to work at peak efficiency. It deploys several production-enhancing systems and tools such as warehouse management software, IoT-related devices, process and business improvements, and technologies like automation and robots.
What makes a Smart Warehouse tick?
A smart warehouse speaks to agility, scalability, visibility, and connectivity.
- Agility – A smart warehouse needs to be able to adapt quickly to an ever-changing environment.
- Scalability – As demand grows, so must the business grow to deal with that demand. A smart warehouse can handle any eventuality in its stride.
- Visibility – A supply chain leader needs real-time information instantly so that the organisation can adapt quickly to changing demands. The correct data given timeously is a serious competitive advantage.
- Connectivity – Systems must combine and communicate to share the relevant data for better decision-making.
We’ve listed some of the tools below that drive agility, scalability, visibility and connectivity in smart warehouses.
A warehouse management system is a fulcrum that drives the entire smart warehouse. It plans and executes the warehouse’s workload, collecting relevant data and providing real-time visibility whilst driving operational improvements.
Some tasks lend themselves to being automated rather than handled by people, allowing the organisation to deploy people where they can be even more helpful.
The arena of robotics within logistics is mind-boggling, with so many options from which to choose. Robotic solutions come in many forms, including pick and place, autonomous mobile robots, automated guided vehicles, and drones, to name a few.
Internet of Things (IoT)
In today’s world, “big data” is a massive driving force to achieve better results. IoT helps facilitate this through a network of connected devices communicating with data centres and systems in the cloud and between the devices themselves.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
AI and ML are vital for a smart warehouse to sing. These turn real-time information, historical data and other relevant information into actionable advice to drive more intelligent decision-making and leaner processes.
Warehouse Control System (WCS)
A WCS is a software program that serves as a bridge between the WMS and material equipment. It’s like a traffic controller, directing and coordinating equipment used to handle products/goods in the warehouse. Successful smart warehouses get their WMS and WCS to work seamlessly.
In the Final Analysis
If your organisation wants to stay competitive, there’s no doubt that smart warehousing is the way to go. However, creating a smart warehouse is not simple and will fail if it doesn’t start with a solid foundation. This is where a warehouse/supply chain integrator like Apex shines. We help you do it right the first time so that there are no costly surprises downstream.
Reach out to us for a consultation, and let’s see how we can help you develop a smart warehouse management system that helps your organisation become more productive and profitable.