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The Benefits IoT Sensors Offer Warehouse Operations May 25th, 2022

The Benefits IoT Sensors Offer Warehouse Operations

Solutions are in-demand for high-functioning warehouses focused on customer satisfaction and competitiveness.  

Businesses and enterprises in various verticals are building Industry 4.0 operations. Smart factories resulting from this “fourth industrial revolution” benefit from connected systems using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors that allow data to flow freely to where it’s needed. These factories also streamline and automate processes, leverage robotics and autonomous vehicles, and enable predictive analysis that keeps operations running smoothly. However, it’s vital for value-added resellers (VARs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) to recognize that the advantages of Industry 4.0 can also extend to warehouse operations. 

IoT Sensors and their Use Cases 

A range of sensors is available for high-functioning warehouses, from radio-frequency identification (RFID) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to temperature, proximity, image, motion detector sensors and more. You can find sensors to collect virtually any type of data that your warehouse client needs to maintain better control of operations and product throughput.  

Sensors enable visibility, real-time data-sharing, and automation in a range of use cases throughout warehouse22_Zebra-RFID-Q1C2-eBook_Mockup-(EN) operations, including:  

Accurate picking: Sensors designed for real-time locationing can direct pickers to the correct parts or products, down to the aisle and bin. Additionally, they can communicate data with the warehouse management system (WMS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for efficient inventory management. 

Asset tracking: In addition to finding parts or products, solutions leveraging sensors can quickly locate equipment, pallets, or more and share data on their status.  

Environmental control: Warehouses storing raw materials and products that must be kept at a specific temperature, humidity, light or other conditions can benefit from sensors that measure those parameters. IoT sensors monitoring environmental conditions enable warehouse operations to control costs, produce less waste and preserve product quality.   

Shipping efficiency: Sensors can weigh and measure cartons or pallets automatically. Accurate measurements via sensors help make the best use of space in trucks, railroad cars, or transportation containers and create the most cost-effective shipping and last-mile delivery schemes. 

Smart building applications: Warehouses can also leverage IoT sensors to cut overhead costs, such as determining when lighting is necessary, optimizing heating or air conditioning, and automating access control.  

Health and hygiene: The COVID-19 pandemic drove changes in warehouse operations to support safe work environments. Solutions that include sensors that measure body temperature and proximity can help ensure that employees keep a safe social distance, those with fevers are quickly identified, and contract tracing is easier via sensor data.  

 

Better Warehouse Operations, Courtesy of IoT Sensors—and Solutions Providers  

Optimal warehouse solutions, from robotics and IoT systems to smart shipping solutions and facility control, also include data analytics solutions. Analyzing sensor data in the cloud or at the source with embedded computing enables emergency shut-down functionality and can alert managers when immediate attention is necessary. Data analysis can also inform decision-making and predictions to help managers anticipate and reduce risks that could lead to delays.  

In addition, operations looking for ways to advance their sustainability initiatives can leverage sensors to control energy consumption, optimize shipments, and make the best use of energy-efficient equipment and autonomous vehicles.  

Furthermore, warehouse sensors enable greater productivity and faster service—an essential capability in an era of strong competition and elevated customer expectations. They also provide greater flexibility and resilience through real-time data and response to unanticipated circumstances. Managers can’t be everywhere, monitoring each process at all times, but sensors can.  

A skills gap is one roadblock that warehouses face when planning an evolution to an Industry 4.0 smart operation. For example, in-house IT teams may not have experience integrating connected sensor systems with WMS or ERP. However, your expertise as a VAR or ISV providing solutions and services to this space can help them overcome this challenge and make great strides toward reaching their business goals.  

Take advantage of this opportunity to build the solutions your clients need—and grow your business in the process.  

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