How IoT smartens up warehouses

How IoT smartens up warehouses
Needless to say, warehousing is a key component in logistics. And, just like smart homes, the internet of things has made warehouses smart as well.
 
Internet of things, of course, refers to the connectivity and inter-workings of networkable devices and forms the basis of various smart solutions, from smart home to smart factory to smart city. More and more, warehousing can benefit from it, too, with data generated by IoT devices processed by the warehouse management system (WMS).
 
“Warehouse automation is not new, just as automated tools at home are not new. Yet the truly smart home is a recent phenomenon, and this is true for the smart warehouse too,” said a recent blogpost by ELEKS. “Smart warehousing refers to the integration of existing automated systems into a more connected and integrated whole. Thanks to IoT every item, every device, and every employee in a smart warehouse is connected not only inside the warehouse but also to wider enterprise systems and the outside world.”
 
According to the post, the benefits of using IoT in warehouses include the following.
 
Assets and inventory: With IoT, the location of all warehouse equipment and assets can be known, thus helping enhance efficiency and reduce errors. “Shelf-fitted sensors and weighing devices can broadcast inventory information to your warehouse management system. The benefit for warehouses lies in that your team always know where equipment is, and what your inventory levels are. For example, expensive picking mistakes occur when inventory is not where it is supposed to be. IoT offers the opportunity to eliminate this time-wasting error,” it said.
 
Health and safety: According to the post, DHL has implemented wearable IoT devices to monitor the health of its employees in an effort to support employee health and safety. “DHL’s network of IoT devices taps into its smart warehouse system, processing data to suggest rest periods and to watch against fatigue. Warehouses are vast operations with workers in spread-out locations, in contrast to a closely-clustered office floor. Thanks to IoT it is easier to gather knowledge about your workers to improve efficiency and safety. IoT devices can also be used to monitor employee performance as long as privacy concerns are taken into account,” it said.
 
Warehouse robotics: The post further pointed out the warehouse knowledge and insight that IoT brings means that robotic automation is becoming increasingly prominent inside the smart warehouse. “Indianapolis fashion company Lids was an early adopter, using IoT-enabled robots to do the picking and packing previously done by humans. This robotized, connected approach means warehouses can use human effort where it is most valuable. IoT lets machines take over the mindless, repetitive tasks warehouses are known for,” it said.
 

Security matters as well

 
Separately, keeping the premises secure is another core component of warehouse management. Security includes various elements including theft prevention, access control, surveillance, fire and safety, disaster recovery, data security and environmental monitoring.
 
blogpost by Supreme Security Systems points out motion detection and premaster protection technologies can be quite useful in this regard.
 
“Motion detection is widely viewed as the backbone of your security system because it’s the feature that can detect when someone is on your premises when they shouldn’t be. A professional security system provider will have a central monitoring center that operates 24/7, ensuring that your warehouse is always protected,” it said.
 
“Perimeter protection is an extremely important aspect of warehouse security, especially if your warehouse has a large surrounding area. IP cameras, video verification systems, glassbreak detection and door protection are key elements of an optimal perimeter warehouse security system,” the post added.


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