The coming years are definitely going to see a lot more of AI-based interventions in the warehouse management solutions sector.
The coming years are definitely going to see a lot more of AI-based interventions in the warehouse management solutions sector. Despite the challenges, solution providers like Inventrax expect more customers in this sector as the benefits become more and more obvious. Two major trends worth mentioning here are the potential of systems integration and 5G.
Potential opportunity for SIs
Currently, many companies doing the role of a systems integrator as well as an OEM manufacturer. This is because, as of now, both the functional and technical knowledge of the solution are not available at the SI side. There is a need for SIs to build on such competencies where they get the techno-functional experts on the operational areas. Although developed economies like the U.S. do have some SIs who have been successful in this area, they are limited to their regions and are yet to have a global impact.
Inventrax would ideally like to sell their products through an SI but the current difficulties in finding the right installation partners limit their choices. Having a partner would give the company more resources to focus on the solution while being able to empower the partners to work with the end customers.
“As of now it’s mostly the operational sides that are experimenting with this model and they have their own concerns whether this will be a success or failure,” Suresh Yerikireddi, Founder Director & CEO of Inventrax
. “Their concerns slow down any efforts in implementing an AI-based platform or even supporting a digital transformation. But if the SIs can build such competencies, I think since we have successfully installed solutions like ERPs and fintech, it wouldn’t be difficult to accomplish in this field either.”
Naveen Kumar of Aera Technology also said that at this stage they are approaching customers directly. Their customers tend to be large enterprises that deal with several different vendors who use different systems. However, as they continue to scale up and expand their business, there is a possibility that they would partner with other companies in the sector.
5G and enhanced communication
Lack of proper connectivity is a major challenge in implementing AI solutions in this sector. Since getting wired connections in remote areas could be cumbersome, the arrival of 5G is expected to be a gamechanger.
“We are looking forward to 5G with great expectations,” Yerikireddi said. “One 5G comes into full-fledged operation, then, this will be a completely different ball-game for companies like us. Connectivity plays a key role and currently, although corporate offices are connected well, the plants, as well as warehouses, are not connected well. It is important to note that with AI-based solutions we are not just looking for connectivity to plants or warehouses, every product and component involved will be connected.
Naveen Kumar, Director of Customer Engagement at Aera Technology
agrees, adding that speed is going to make a huge difference to how data is actually used. However, he is quick to warn that while technologies like 5G would come in at some point, there should be a clear idea of how you would make use of new capabilities that come in.
“Self-driving cars are being worked on for quite a while now, but they are still not ready,” Kumar gave an example. “A similar journey can be expected in the warehouse solutions sector as well. Speed is an important element, not necessarily at every part of a warehouse but wherever it is required, it cannot be done away with.”
Finally, another major advantage that 5G will bring in would be the scalability. Large volumes of data can be transmitted at high speeds, which means more operations can be undertaken, which in turn means more business can be done. This will function as a major enabler for companies in this segment.