IoT in the Warehouse: It’s Present and Future
When you think about warehousing, you most likely associate it with manual labor. You probably imagine pickers gathering the right items and preparing them for shipments. The order fulfillment process has been laborious, time-consuming, and inefficient… until now.
Warehouses are being transformed thanks to the Internet of Things. Automation has made warehouse operations significantly more efficient. Read on to learn what kinds of developments are changing warehouses today and what we can expect in the future.
How IoT Is Changing Warehouses Today
In today’s warehouses, robots are becoming a frequent sight. They are part of an IoT strategy to streamline warehouse operations.
Instead of human pickers going from shelf to shelf, robots circulate throughout the warehouse. They have built-in carts to hold the items they retrieve. Once they’ve retrieved the correct items, they deliver them to human workers. The human workers load the items onto trucks. Sensors on robots and pallets can track an order’s progress from the time the robot selects the item from the shelf to the moment it arrives at the recipient’s loading dock.
Sensors and RFID tags serve another purpose: to ensure that items haven’t reached their expiry date yet. That technology can provide the warehouse manager with information on a product (including whether it’s about to hit the end of its shelf life).
The Future of IoT in Warehousing
Although IoT has made a significant impact in warehouse operations across the globe over the past several years, it’s still an emerging technology. Its utility will only grow as time goes on.
One prediction regarding IoT in warehousing is that it will be able to reduce cargo theft. Cargo theft is a serious and expensive problem for manufacturers; by using sensors, manufacturers can track packages from the moment they leave the warehouse. They always know where a package is, and they can alert law enforcement officials if their product goes missing before it arrives on store shelves.
Another way in which IoT could be used in the future is for tracking the temperature and handling of goods. Many goods arrive at the recipient’s warehouse damaged, which wastes money. By tracking the temperature as well as the handling, manufacturers can improve the storage and transit periods for their goods to reduce costs.
IoT will also play a role in making warehouses safer. The use of robots reduces the risk of injury to humans. Also, based upon the data gathered from sensors, manufacturers can redesign warehouses so that accidents don’t happen.
Moreover, IoT sensors can tell manufacturers when equipment (such as forklifts) are in need of maintenance. This saves time (and by extension, money). Broken-down equipment leads to delays, so when you can solve that problem before it starts, you’re more efficient.
Automation has made warehouse operations more efficient. However, they have yet to reach their apex of development. There is still a greater impact yet to be had upon warehouse operations, which will make them safer and more efficient.