Warehouses have been typically places where we could store “things”. The advent of IoT brings to life all these so-called “things” and soon we would be renaming the Warehouse to “AWarehouse” ……..a house which is aware of everything in it!!
Warehouses and current problems
Typically it is a large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored prior to their distribution for sale. The very nature of it, we would find that things are getting dumped into places within the house. Time is lost in locating stuff if there is a lack of organization and indiscipline in the process followed in stores. It may happen that there is stuff in transit. Physical inventories are needed to ensure that the records are updated and the data in hand matches the actual quantities and locations. These problems are multiplied when you have multiple warehouse sites and that too spread across cities and countries. The list of issues would be a pile if you check with a warehouse manager.
How can IoT help?
IoT ushers in – beehive-like connectivity with which it would be possible to have an aware network of all the relevant items or things. Simple tags, gateways, and beacons come together to make up a hub. Even humans would form a part of it by using wearables.
Now in such an environment, the moment raw materials get received they would be tagged and sent to the respective warehouses, if a worker takes it to the wrong one there could be an alarm on his wearable or if he locates the item incorrectly there could be an alarm and guided directions to walk to the correct one.
The inventory gets updated automatically when raw material is brought in. Similarly, when it is taken out, it could be checked if the worker taking it out is authorized to do it else there is an alarm to the warehouse manager. The inventory gets updated respectively. Similar and more stringent measures and security may be added for products. These are just very obvious use cases, there are many when one gets to the nitty-gritty.
Warehouse to Awarehouse
The transition from the current normal to a new normal is not a simple slide, it is a wavy and bumpy ride for sure. The first step is that they will need to accept this change. An Amazon store that can run almost unmanned and people can walk in and walk out with the items they need and get auto-billed – would have been the most difficult thing to accept though it was possible for Amazon themselves. Once what is possible becomes feasible in our minds, this transition will need to be handled at multiple levels since this would be impacting every cell of the company from the top to ground zero. Thus this change would have to be handled with care and patience, but surely it is a worthwhile destination.
Warehouse and beyond
Today’s IoT technology is on its way to not just making the environment more proactive but is going to making an impact on both how businesses are going to work and how businesses are going to function. Warehouses could be a starting point for this revolution.
Read more on how IoT can help in other related areas to Warehouses, How does IoT/Automation stop Loss or Theft? and How does IoT Regulate Transportation and Logistics?
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