Key Considerations for Digital Warehousing

Written by Keane Ng, DPSM

by Keane Ng, DPSM

With the emergence of ever-on e-commerce, the prerequisite for speedier responses and the need to deal with a more prominent number of SKUs with fewer blunders, warehouses need to scale up the standard to meet the necessities of a secure, perceptive and digitized warehouse. Searching ahead for the next 2 to 10 years, an anticipated increase in digital transformation preference will bring profound changes to warehouses’ operation. As needs be, it should hit its apex by embracing disruptive warehouse digitization.

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Costs, Efficiency and Innovation

Despite the fact that e-commerce adds multifaceted nature to warehouse operations, shorter delivery times and inventory deployment across the supply chain, including the last mile, have become the norm. Third-party logistics providers are now citing 10-20 percent rate increases for standard warehousing activities such as receiving, storing, delivery, returns, and so forth. Expanded multifaceted nature and increasing rates represent a multi-faceted test for logistics sourcing teams. Those who lack discipline in procurement and proactive bid planning are struggling because of their inability to leverage market competition or explore alternative solutions.The focus on emerging technologies has expanded, but conventional firms underinvested to improve logistic proficiency are seeing limits on cost-cutting activities and a sharper rise in warehousing costs.

A good collaborative supplier development policy is an alternative or complement to a robust bidding strategy. Regardless of the fact that it is the duty of 3PLs to invest in new productivity-enhancing technologies, partnering and insurance approaches involving cost-benefit sharing as part of the shipper-supplier relationship inspire them to contribute and invest.

Innovative and intriguingideas are often transportation and fleet focused (e.g. real-time route optimization, cauterization of cargo, autonomous trucks) but interesting concepts in warehousing and technology-driven productivity initiatives have emerged. Conventional warehousing activities are evolving drastically with the help of technology innovators and logistics leaders must stay at the forefront of these innovations.

Collaborative Robots (Cobots)

The cobot or “collaborative robot” is specially designed to facilitate the human-machine interface and enhance security. These machines can likewise work with human workers in a similar zone and manage risks through their sensitivity and programming. Utilizing AI programming, programming robots would be extremely straightforward for everybody, offering significantly more flexibility than beforehand.

Improve Product Consistency
Image taken from https://sipmm.edu.sg/robotic-process-automation-rpa-digital-warehousing/

The picker would just need to “run” the moves to the robot once, and afterward, he could rehash it.For repetitive activities, for example, pallet loading packing and stacking, this kind of machine could be of assistance to human works. They will be particularly designed to work with and not replacing human beings. It isnot generallyfeasible for every warehouse to adopt such innovation promptly, especially given that this requires substantial funding and changes in infrastructure. That is why ever increasing numbers of warehouses are embracing collaborative robots or cobots, autonomous elements that are worked to work with your current partners, not without them.Cobots allow warehouses to keep many of their own processes and system design choices intact while still benefiting from the streamlined workflow offered by fully autonomous components.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

Radio Frequency Identification is a method of monitoring objects using digitally encoded tags and a digital database containing data on each tagged object. RFID technology is similar to barcoding, however, unlike reading barcodes, the RFID reader (interrogator), uses radio waves to locate tags and does not need to have the tag right in front of it to scan. In reality, the tag does not even need to be in the reader’s sight line. Several RFID tags can be read simultaneously as compared to barcodes read each in turn.

how RFID Works
Image taken from https://sipmm.edu.sg/rfid-technology-orthopaedic-warehousing-distribution/

Autonomous Mobile Robots

AMRs can be configured to be placed in different sections of the warehouse, depending on how much they are required. So, fast-moving items that need to be taken to a human order-picker more often than not would be placed nearer to the pick-up station. And, apparently, items that sell less often will be kept further away.


In fact, AMRs know when to get to the charging point and power up – they don’t need to be sent or taken manually. These are only two instances of what computing can do about it. They are described as “artificial intelligence,” but whatever it is called, many other innovations that make AMRs even more autonomous are likely to emerge.

Otto Motors
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Drone – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

The use of drones in the warehouse will vary depending on the operation. However, listed below is the typical rundown of the work that your flying robotic co-worker is going to do.

  • The drone is responsible for counting the inventory number of Items, which is contained in the boxes stored on the racking of the warehouses.
  • The Warehouse Management System (WMS) is fully integrated with the drone software. From this, drones can access inventory location data down to a preciseaisle, rack, or bin level.
  • Drone maps the optimal route to a stock location with an optical system that combines computer vision and profound learning technology, a sub-field of artificial intelligencelearning that empowers the recognition of images based on a network of learning layers.
  • The drone locates a stock location, which it knows is based on X, Y, Z coordinates.
  • The drone visually scans and verifies the labels, snaps a photo of the bar-code, or uses RFID sensors to relay the inventory to the central WMS.

Here we can perceive how effective the drone works. It saves the human worker from having to locate the stock, walk the distance to the aisle, climb up the platform, and manually scan all the boxes for a simple count. In fact, drone scanning can be performed 50 times faster than manual capture.

The drone’s photos upload to the system instantly. However, in the event of an error in the marking or discovery of a shortage of inventories, the drone generates a report that the operator can review and rectify.

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Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

The enactment of WMS enable the business to reduce employment costs, increase inventory accuracy, improve flexibility and responsiveness, reduce picking and shipping errors to enhance customer service.

Contemporary warehouse management systems works with real-time data to allow the  company to monitor the most up-to-the-minute details on operations such as orders, shipments, deliveries, receipts, and any movement of goods.

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Warehouse design that allows organizations to customize workflow and picking logic to ensure that the warehouse is designed for optimized inventory allocation. WMS sets up bin slots that maximize storage space and account for variations in seasonal inventory. Inventory tracking, which allows the use of advanced tracking systems, including radio frequency identification (RFID), automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) and barcode scanners, to ensure that goods can be easily found when they need to move.Receiving and put away processes allows inventories to be put away and retrieved, often with pick-to-light or pick-to-voice technology, assisting warehouse workers locate merchandise. Warehouse workers can likewise utilize lot zoning and undertaking interleaving capacities to manage pick-and-pack assignments in the most proficient way.

Conclusion

Digital transformation of business processes in various sectors and spheres of life radically changes the concept of “warehouse logistics.” Leading modern logistics systems in warehousing is a combination of digital communication platforms equipped with automated and robotic technologies which the top priority is to accelerate the turnover of stocks. Agility, mobility, speed, and smart analysis define the effectiveness of warehouse logistics.

In the logistics management system, the emphasis moves on knowledge process control. Conditions are created for the implementation of methods and tools for processing structured and unstructured data from various information sources and the optimization of diverse information flows using artificial intelligence technology.


References

Borisova V., Taymashanov K., Tasueva T. (2019). “Digital Warehousing as a Leading Logistics Potential”. Retrieved from Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-15495-0_29, accessed on 17/06/2020.

Hector Sunol. (2020). “Warehouse Digitization – The Future of Warehousing”.  Retrieved from https://articles.cyzerg.com/warehouse-digitalization-the-future-of-warehousing, accessed 17/06/2020.

Leong Jian Jie, ADLSM. (2019). “Key Digital Technologies for a Smart Warehouse”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/key-digital-technologies-smart-warehouse/, accessed 17/06/2020.

Mai Tao. (2019). “Warehouses becoming more flexible through the use of robotics” Retrieved from https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2019/09/23/warehouses-becoming-more-flexible-through-the-use-of-robotics/25168/, accessed 17/06/2020.

Marvin Edward, DLSM. (2019). “RFID Technology for Orthopaedics Warehousing and Distribution”. Retrieved from https://sipmm.edu.sg/rfid-technology-orthopaedic-warehousing-distribution/, accessed 17/06/2020.

Michael Zimmerman, Alberto Oca, and Akash Agrawal. (2019). “Acceleration in Warehousing Costs Shaping Greater Efficiency and Technology Innovation”. Retrieved from https://www.supplychain247.com/article/acceleration_in_warehousing_costs_shaping_innovation, accessed 17/06/2020.

Naresh Kumar. DLSM (2019). “Digital Technology for Warehouse Productivity” Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/digital-technology-warehouse-productivity/, accessed 17/06/2020. Shankar Kumar. DLSM (2019). “Technologies for more Productive Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/technologies-more-productive-warehousing/, accessed on 17/06/2020.

About the Author Keane Ng has more than 15 years of experience in the China market, and specifically in the areas of trading, manufacturing, warehousing and logistics. Keane is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). He completed Diploma in Procurement and Supply Management (DPSM) on June 2020 at SIPMM Institute.

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