Editor's note: This is a guest blog from our friends at Manufacturing Talk Radio. This content offers a valuable insight into the technologies creating more efficient warehouse operations worldwide.
The warehouse is an essential part of any manufacturing origination. It can also consume a large amount of the overall operating costs, so ensuring it runs as efficient as possible is vital.
If a warehouse isn’t optimized for the modern business landscape, manufacturers could be losing money and beyond that, customers could ultimately end up feeling the impact as well.
There are a plethora of new tools and technologies available that can help optimize a modern warehouse to increase its agility and meet customer needs. We’ll be diving into 5 of these impressive technologies that manufacturers can use to improve their warehouse and their overall organization.
1. Mobile Solutions
Mobile solutions have transformed the way businesses get work done. Nearly everyone on the planet has a powerful computer in their pocket at all times, the smart phone.
New software is coming out almost every day focused on offering innovative solutions for businesses. When it comes to the warehouse and mobile technology, managers are finding the benefits to be clear.
Instead of spending money on expensive bar-code readers for each individual on the warehouse floor, warehouse managers can instead direct their workforce to a common bar-code scanning app instead.
Also, much of the managing software that is in use today has mobile applications that can help streamline inventory management and scheduling processes.
2. Warehouse Computers
Industrial Computer Enclosures are a safe-haven for computer controlled warehouse management systems.
Mobile is helpful for monitoring the warehouse from afar, but the employees on the floor need to have computers on hand. Computers are everywhere and they can do so much to improve any warehouse management system.
If a computer is located where shipments are received, employees can effortlessly upload all the details of any shipment directly onto a warehouse management system. Having an industrial computer paired up with the right software for the task at hand could dramatically increase the productivity of the modern warehouse.
Not only will productivity and efficiency increase, a warehouse can become more organized and the possibility of losing inventory drops.
However, a consumer level computer is prone to damage in a warehouse setting. Forklifts, heavy pallets and other industrial equipment can destroy a computer on contact.
There are ways to ensure a warehouse computer stays in peak working condition while also keeping it user friendly. Armagard is a manufacturer of industrial computer enclosures, which will protect any computer and increase the life-span of the machine.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on rugged, industrial computers, a computer enclosure can turn a $300 dollar tower computer into a rugged and long-lasting piece of essential hardware for the warehouse floor.
3. Equipment Monitoring
In a vast warehouse space, equipment monitoring has become a necessity.
Equipment is an essential part of the modern warehouse. From forklifts to cranes, when a piece of equipment goes down it can lead to costly downtime.
There are new technologies available that can help closely monitor equipment without having to spend time searching for maintenance reports and reduce time consuming troubleshooting.
Businesses can begin to utilize QR codes that can be scanned with smartphones. The QR codes keep a record of important data such as the equipment’s history and past repairs.
This system is much more reliable than paper records as those can go missing. Employees that are tasked with using the equipment can easily scan the QR code before they begin their shift to make sure all necessary maintenance has been conducted.
4. Employee Enhancements
Wearable tech use in the warehouse is growing.
There has been an incredible push to enhance the human workforce in nearly every industry. Manufacturers are using robotic hands, NASA engineers are using augmented reality and warehouse employees can even be given super human strength.
There are new wearable technologies out there that can reduce worker fatigue over an 8 hour shift. Worker fatigue can lead to employee burnout as well serious physical injuries.
A specialized apparatus - known as the AWN-03 - has been designed by Panasonic and helps support the complex movement of the lower back. It can alleviate strain put on the lower back when lifting or holding heavy objects.
It’s easy to use and takes little time to put on. A series of straps, motors and sensors help transfer the weight of the object to the pads on the upper thigh. Furthermore, wearable technology like Google Glass can have a profound impact on the overall efficiency on a warehouse’s workforce.
The ability to scan bar codes and receive real-time information on schedules and pick-ups can be gathered without needing to take their eyes off their current task. Enhancements like this are allowing warehouse managers to create a modern and highly advanced workforce.
5. The Future (Drones)
Wal-Mart recently introduced drones to its warehouses.
Drones have continued to impress the world with their nearly limitless applications. Now, even warehouses might have a way to utilize this incredible technology to improve their processes.
Wal-Mart has come up with a way to incorporate drones into its inventory management process. Drones can fly above a distribution center and scan hundreds of shipping containers to find out what’s inside and where they belong.
The indoor warehouse could use this same kind of technology. With shelves that might stretch over 10 feet in the air, it can be time consuming to have an individual bring a lift or ladder over to each top row.
Instead, a drone can fly around the warehouse, categorizing and recording all the inventory that would be out of reach. It will still take some time before this becomes common practice, but the technology is nearly where it needs to be.
Take a look at the most recent warehouse management drones making their way onto the market: http://mfgtalkradio.com/let-drones-leg-work-warehouse-inventory-management/
The modern warehouse needs to be agile enough to keep up with the fast pace business landscape of the 21st Century. Orders are constantly changing and communication can fall apart. However, with the right technology in place, a warehouse can thrive instead of just survive.
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