By: Craig Badrick on July 22nd, 2016


How the Internet of Things is Improving Warehouse Efficiency


IoT in WarehousesUp and down the supply chain, profit margins are getting so thin that any minuscule gain in performance or reduction in cost or waste makes a meaningful difference. Nowhere is this more evident than in the warehouse, where a combination of factors makes it increasingly difficult to find any more ways to squeeze out a profit. Whether it's climbing insurance costs, reduced product quality, or problems finding qualified workers -- the warehouse needs all the help it can get. Enter: the Internet of Things (IoT) in warehouses.

What the IoT Is

Essentially, any connected device can be considered a part of the Internet of Things, or IoT. Most people think of consumer devices, like smart watches and pet finder chips when they think of the IoT, but the industrial IoT will become many times the size of the consumer IoT as it unfolds over the coming years. Industrial IoT devices are sensors, monitors and other devices that can collect any number of various data points, such as temperature, location, movement, the number of items, the actions of workers, humidity and much more.

How the IoT in Warehouses Works

The IoT is made most valuable by machine learning, which is also sometimes called ML or AI (artificial intelligence). ML is software that collects the data generated by IoT devices and analyzes it to find patterns and correlations. The benefits of these computer programs is that they can identify patterns and correlations in data sets that are far too complex for any human to comprehend. The software also gets better over time. For instance, the system makes changes or recommendations based on its first analysis. Then it monitors and measures how well those changes performed. Afterward, the system is able to tweak its next set of changes or recommendations, thereby getting better each time.

The Benefits of the IoT in Warehouses

Stationary IoT devices can usually be connected via a wired network, but for mobile IoT devices like those carried by workers or installed on moving vehicles, you'll need a wireless network connection.

In the warehouse, IoT devices are used for many purposes, including managing inventory, alerting workers or managers of low stock, identifying the temperatures and other conditions at which inventory is best kept fresh and valuable, monitoring the conditions at which workers are safest and most productive, determining the best layout and configuration of the warehouse, finding ways to maximize profits with inventory, scheduling worker shifts, improving the safety of the workers and improving the security of the inventory and warehouse -- among many others.

Of course, for these connected devices to work, the warehouse has to have solid, secure, reliable network connectivity. Otherwise, the devices can't communicate with the system that stores, processes and delivers operational insights based on the data analysis. Some IoT devices work via wired connections (such as stationary devices that count inventory), while others need a wireless connection (like those situated on forklifts or other mobile or hard-to-reach places). To find out what you need to properly introduce the IoT into your warehouse, contact Turn-key Technologies to request a quote today.

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