A warehouse is a very critical component of logistics. As such top notch technology should be deployed in a warehouse to ensure smooth movement of goods but at the same time ensuring the movement is monitored.
Demand for warehouses is increasing sharply and so better warehouse technology can be of greater help in the proficient management of warehouses.
Here are some of the warehouse technologies that a smart logistics company should embrace:
Warehouse management system (WMS)
A warehouse management system (WMS) is a software application, designed to support and optimize warehouse functionality and distribution center management. These systems facilitate management in their daily planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling the utilization of available resources, to move and store materials into, within, and out of a warehouse, while supporting staff in the performance of material movement and storage in and around a warehouse.
A WMS uses a database configured to support warehouse operations, containing detail describing a variety of standard warehouse elements including:
- Individual stock keeping units (SKUs) that are handled and stored, e.g., weight, dimensions, case pack, automatic ID labels (bar codes, etc.), and inventory by location with manufacture date, lot code, etc. SKUs may include basic materials, fabricated parts, assemblies, and industrial and consumer finished goods, etc.;
- Warehouse storage locations, e.g., individual location number, picking sequence, type of use (picking, reserve storage, etc.), type of storage (each, case, pallet), location size or capacity, storage restriction (flammable, hazardous, high value materials, outdoor, etc.), etc.;
- Dock doors, e.g., individual number, etc.; and
- Expected labor productivity rates by function or activity, e.g., cases picked per man-hour, etc
Paperless Pick & Pack System
Paperless picking systems refers to an array of highly accurate and efficient, software enabled processes designed to expedite the order fulfillment process and increase customer satisfaction by ensuring near perfect order quality.
Paperless picking systems utilize a variety of hardware devices to direct operators through tasks such as discrete order picking, case picking, put-based sorting, and packing.
Automated Material Handling(AMH) System
This system reduces or eliminates the need for humans to check-in, check-out, sort material, or to move totes and bins containing library material.
The mechanical equipment used in AMH systems includes check-in machines, sorters, conveyors, singulators, stackers and unstackers, totes, bins, trolleys, and tote carriers. Somewhere in the process there must be a scanner to read the bar code or a reader to read the RFID tag (or both.)
Various belts, pulleys, chutes, slides, and laser beams are used to ensure bins don’t overflow and to get each item oriented correctly and pushed or carried into the right tote or bin. Self check-out machines are sometimes lumped into the AMH category because they take the check-out step out of the hands of staff. However, they do so by having the patron do it themselves so it is more of a self-service feature than automation.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically-stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader’s interrogating radio waves.
Active tags have a local power source (such as a battery) and may operate hundreds of meters from the RFID reader.
Unlike a barcode, the tag need not be within the line of sight of the reader, so it may be embedded in the tracked object. RFID is one method for Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC).
RFID tags are used in many industries, for example, an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets allows for positive identification of animals.
Cloud storage is a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools. The physical storage spans multiple servers (sometimes in multiple locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data available and accessible, and the physical environment protected and running. People and organizations buy or lease storage capacity from the providers to store user, organization, or application data.
Cloud storage services may be accessed through a colocated cloud computing service, a web service application programming interface (API) or by applications that utilize the API, such as cloud desktop storage, a cloud storage gateway or Web-based content management systems.