Mastering the supply chain: Eyes on the warehouse October 23th, 2019

Mastering the supply chain: Eyes on the warehouse

Small and midsize retail supply chain trends state that there's always a push to get orders out and off the shipping dock in an efficient manner. The goal is to ensure that shipments go out without a major costly expense. SMBs must become nimble, especially when it comes to the warehouse, distributions centers, and other in-house operations. The more agile the company is, the better their ability to anticipate and react to the "Amazon Effect." The Amazon Effect is the expectation for fast and frictionless transactions. This trend has set the bar high for operation and shipments processing standards for every other fulfillment center in the world. 

Implementing smart solutions in the supply chain 

Warehouses and Fulfillment centers are diving into the usage of several digital tools as well. From Automation, Robotics, AI, IoT, Barcode Scanning and RFID, Warehouse Management Solutions come in many shapes and sizes. For example, Barcode Scanning/Labeling is essentially the foundation of any warehouse inventory process. It's a storage center necessity. 

Mobile & stationary: Printing forward 

A significant key factor is remembering to improve the supply chain visibility standard. Accurate labeling is crucial when it comes to real-time tracking shipments on their journey from the manufacturer, to the warehouse, to the customer. "Just-in-Time" inventory has increased rapidly into "must-have" inventory over a short lapse of time. This visibility becomes an ever-important priority for the cost-conscious supply chain partners, who don't want it until they need it. 

When it comes to supporting the manufacturer, it's important to remember what their workflow looks like on the clock. Warehouse workers scan shipping labels to record incoming inventory pieces or raw materials at the loading dock. They also scan materials, update storage shelf locations, and navigate through the inventory to fulfill workflow orders. Applications that provide real-time updates and IoT data responses can help warehouse workers continually meet the ever-evolving demands regarding supply chain management. 

Strengthening quality assurance 

Retail stores and online retailers alike depend on fulfillment centers to complete their orders and inventory requests. "99.6% of order fulfillment seems like a high probability, but there is always room for error." This is where that 0.4% can equal out to millions of errors and faults on the supply chain line. 

Take a digital twin as an example; the virtual image of a process or service can be used for planning, monitoring, and even forecasting the outcomes of various scenarios. Companies can access new business realms and optimize them according to customer needs. Digital twins act as a bridge before the digital and physical world, through utilizing intelligent sensors, such pertinent data can be collected to detect mishaps, that might previously have gone undetected. 

By doing more with less, warehouse managing systems and other systems allow workers to generate accurately labeled stickers for shipments and storage shelves efficiently. Managers can operate with fewer workers and help to bring seasonal employees up to date during peak/holiday shifts. 

Automation on the line 

When warehouse managers entrust robots and connected machinery, they are ensuring tasks are completed and keep from work orders and shipments piling up and workers getting overwhelmed. These devices have the full mental and educational capacity to operate these tasks and troubleshoot errors as needed. Such duties include picking, packing, monitoring, weighing, and so much more. 

When artificial intelligence links up with automation within the distribution center, even more tasks can be successfully completed as well. These AI-related tasks range from anything including order processing, invoice handling, receipt, and finance managing. Though there is much at hand, this just equals out to the amount of smart opportunities that can be applied to modern-day warehouses, fulfillment centers, and distribution buildings. 


Samantha is BlueStar's Digital Media Specialist, and the primary contributing writer for VartechNation. Previously, she has worked as a Public Relations Associate and a Social Media Manager.