The Internet of Things (IoT) is making an appearance in nearly every industry around the globe, including warehouses. With e-commerce on the rise, companies need to move into the digital age to keep up with growing demand. How are IoT warehouses disrupting the supply chain? And how can warehouses adopt IoT technologies to improve their productivity and efficiency into the future?
Improved inventory control with asset tracking
IoT devices are networked, allowing them to send and receive data depending on the limits of their programming. This IoT technology has a variety of different applications, including improving inventory control and tracking. Equipping each piece of inventory with an RFID or GPS tracker gives companies the tools to track the location of each item in real time. This use of IoT doesn’t just make picking and packaging easier. It can also warn supervisors of low stock and detect unsuitable temperatures for product storage. And even broadcast inventory information to the warehouse management software remotely.
While IoT asset tracking doesn’t replace human employees, especially for picking/packaging, it can help reduce inventory loss, shipping errors, and theft.
Real-time fleet management
Maintaining a fleet is sometimes an integral part of a warehouse’s operations but keeping up with the needs of an entire fleet of vehicles can be challenging. IoT takes a lot of the guesswork out of maintaining a fleet by collecting information about fuel efficiency, vehicle maintenance and even driver behavior before collating it and sending it back to the warehouse management software.
IoT sensors can help you improve each fleet vehicle’s efficiency. By tracking all these variables and recommending changes to driving patterns and maintenance schedules to keep the fleet running smoothly. Instead of having to inspect each vehicle and collect this information manually, IoT-enabled fleet vehicles can communicate all of the data autonomously back to the warehouse’s hub. Loading and unloading heavy machinery can potentially harm employees and damage your equipment. This technology can also help maintain fleet vehicles within the warehouse, such as cranes and forklifts.
Improved worker productivity with wearable technology
Wearable technology is becoming a part of nearly everyone’s life, from fitness trackers like the Fitbit to smartwatches that are beginning to replace cell phones. Companies are also starting to use these IoT-enabled wearables to track employee productivity in the workplace. In addition to tracking productivity, these devices can track stress levels and even improve fitness, leading to happier and healthier employees.
Companies are beginning to require their employees don wearable technologies as a condition of employment. This trend is raising privacy and security concerns. As well as concerns that people could abuse the technology to force employees to work harder or meet unattainable goals. But in general, the push toward wearable technology is helping improve employee productivity.
Demand forecasting with machine learning
Tracking industry demand can be challenging. And incorrect predictions can leave you with too little inventory when the demand is high. And too much when it drops again. IoT, paired with machine learning, can study the highs and lows the company has experienced in the past, and use that data to predict when demand will be high and when it will drop with a surprising degree of accuracy.
IoT isn’t a crystal ball. It uses machine learning and data your company generates to track patterns human analysts might miss. The more information the system has, the more accurate the predictions become. Turning IoT and your data into a tool that can help you ensure you always have enough inventory. And at the same time, you’re not over-ordering when you don’t need to.
The future of supply chain disruption in warehouses
IoT will continue to disrupt warehouse supply chains well into the future, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead of balking at the idea of new technology, warehouses owners and logistics companies should consider adopting IoT as part of their standard operating procedures. IoT will help companies improve productivity, track inventory and employees and make the entire process smoother and more efficient.
The Internet of Things isn’t merely a tool to connect smart appliances or wearables. In the next decade, IoT will become an invaluable tool to keep your products moving, regardless of the industry. Warehouse logistics and IoT will move the entire industry into the 21st century and beyond.