CeMAT 2018, 23 - 27 April
Logistics IT

Smart Warehouse Logistics in Action

With robots, drones, and smart gadgets, new trends are entering warehouses. What additional benefits do digital technologies bring?

01 Mar. 2018
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An employee walks through the warehouse halls, searches the shelves, lifts heavy products and updates product locations manually. Today, this outdated scenario can already be replaced with robots, drones and autonomous systems. But how can you successfully implement smart warehouse logistics?

People and Machines Working Together

At the forefront is human-machine interaction. Connected to this, the Fraunhofer Society uses the term "Social Networked Industry" – industrially focused social networks in which people and cyber-physical systems work together. The Internet of Things paves way for completely new business models based on data. Companies and consumers alike can benefit enormously from time saving, lower prices, and reduced workload. For this however, strategies need to be aligned with technical usage.

The aim is not to replace people but instead combine their work with the efficiency and power of intelligent machines. There are three trends to look out for here: Automation with robotics, obtaining information with help from wearable tech/mobile devices, and generating real-time information regarding storage and delivery status. But which technology makes the most sense for your company?

Trends for Smart Warehouse Logistics

The answer is dependent on the challenges and targets of the business, as well as given conditions. Driverless transport systems are already on the rise. These autonomous robots are a flexible aid to goods transportation and picking and packing. However, they often require special transport carriers or shelving systems that can lead to problems in warehouses with diverse inventory.

Mobile devices and wearable tech present an alternative, giving digital support to people. Smart glasses, for example, deliver exact information in real time through the use of augmented reality and guide employees through the picking process. This helps reduce error rates and increase work efficiency.

Drones also offer promising benefits for intralogistics as they are able to take advantage of airspace for faster goods transportation. When equipped with cameras, flying drones can be put to good use in warehouse and inventory management. For this, effective software is crucial for drones to be able to navigate their own way through the warehouse.

Harmonizing Technical and Logistical Processes

Valid data and seamless connectivity are basic foundations for implementing smart logistics solutions. This requires an advanced IT infrastructure and willingness to invest, so for smaller businesses, it is especially important to weigh up costs and benefits. Technology and strategy need to fit together well, otherwise time and money invested will go to waste. Taking a proactive approach to digitizing your business will bring huge technological flexibility in the future, as digitization will continue to influence logistics. Smart systems will become increasingly important in the face of modern logistical challenges.