It’s undeniable that profitability in wholesale is more challenging than ever. But, it’s also a great time to leverage advanced warehouse management technologies to boost profits. Here are some technologies you can begin implementing in your own warehouses to do just that.
- Automated Ground Vehicles – This is one having perhaps one of the largest impacts on the largest warehouses. These AGV’s are capable of picking products, moving pallets around, bringing pods to a packing station and beyond. These little guys are capable of replacing a warehouse worker with their efficiency, and generally, have a payback period of 12-18 months.
- Pick to Light – This system is designed to reduce errors in the warehouse by making it easy to see where the next product is to pick. Alternatively, they can be used to tell where to place a product for orders. As a longstanding warehouse technology, they have only recently made their way into many warehouses in various forms. The trouble is integrating with your existing system, though they have been proved to dramatically increase efficiency and reduce errors.
- Conveyor Systems – While it may seem old school, modern conveyor belts a smarter than they appear. With the modern push belts, products can be ‘pushed’ off a belt and into a slide. Here, the product will go into a sorting bin or out into a truck for delivery based on zones or carrier.
- Vending Based Racking System – Turning the warehouse into a giant vending machine, these are popular for similarly shaped products. While expensive and very invasive to implement, over time they can save hundreds of thousands of dollars. They use a robotic guidance system to both place product in bins as well as to retrieve them once orders are placed. They will typically place them in a picking station or on a conveyor belt to be packaged up and shipped out. (Pictured in the featured image at the top of this page)
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA) – This system coordinates and controls the motors, actuators, checkweigh scales, sensors, conveyors and more. It is more of a framework for pulling together all these ‘moving’ pieces and providing a way to control or adjust them. Especially crucial in manufacturing plants, they have the ability to tap into a visual overview for operators. Below is a visual overview using the SCADA framework from Precision Warehouse Design.
- Computer Vision Barcode Scanning via iOS/Android – It used to be you had to use the bulky, expensive, specialized handheld scanners. Not the case anymore. This advanced warehouse management technology uses any iOS or Android device to scan up to 20 barcodes at once. Beyond this, you can use it to help spot specific barcodes out of a bunch of codes, and it scans faster than traditional laser scanners. In the Distribution Hub mobile app, we use this technology to enable our clients to cut costs and improve the efficiency of picking.
- Warehouse Management System – This may not come as a huge surprise but this is the central core of any warehouse or network. These systems control the purchasing, lead timing, inbound, put-away, order management, picking, packing, shipping and more. In advanced systems (like Distribution Hub) it is paired with a mobile app to handle every movement of the product from inbound to routing and proof of delivery. What’s even better is the possibility now to integrate with an AGV dispatching unit.
There you have it, some of the most advanced warehouse management technologies running warehouses around the world. Got another one to add? Put it in the comments and let’s chat about it.
If you have any questions about anything listed here, or about the Distribution Hub, you can always reach out to a firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help with your particular situation.
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