The term “Warehouse 4.0” covers all the innovations and connected technologies whose concrete applications increase the performance of the Supply Chain, of the personnel who work there and therefore of the company that implements them. After the Factory of the Future, the world of logistics is experiencing a revolution thanks to the emergence of new technologies in the field of infra and IT!
So what innovations and what solutions to meet these logistics challenges? And how can these technologies contribute to accelerate the mutations of companies, both in their business and in their markets?
The challenges and issues facing logistics managers mainly concern productivity, error reduction, synchronization, service rate, inventory management and finally the management of logistics activities. To meet these challenges, all warehouse processes are concerned: unloading, storage, replenishment, preparation, loading, support functions, etc.
New infra or IT solutions are available and can meet most of these challenges!
Thanks to new technologies, we can increase the productivity of inventories by automating the counting by RFID readings, increase the productivity of receptions by simplifying the access to management and printing solutions, increase the productivity also in order preparation by limiting the load carrying by the means of a direct sending of the cobot in the packing area while allowing the preparer to continue his picking activity. Productivity can also be improved by simplifying the identification of the package in which to place the goods to be shipped.
Among the solutions that can be connected to a WMS, let’s mention the intelligent cobot Husky developed by the Nantes-based company E-Cobot, which can be transformed into a real assistant to the operators: picking/kitting, station provisioning, evacuation of finished products, small logistic train/milk run, kanban management, station-to-station transfer, transfer to stock/shipping, return of empty bins, waste evacuation, tool transport.
IMPROVE INVENTORY QUALITY:
Technological solutions can also increase the quality of stock keeping by directing the operator to the place of deposit or increase the quality of service by limiting the number of errors at the time of the preparation of orders or the loading of goods.
Among the solutions that can be connected to a WMS, let’s mention the dynamic storage system marketed by the company PTLS (Pick To Light System) indicating where to put the goods in stock.
Some technologies can also provide enhanced information on the location of preparation trucks and thus enable “accompanied driving” of operators in their daily tasks or by providing them with visual information on the routes in the warehouse (filming, packaging, control).
They also allow to optimize the storage strategies in order to dedicate each operator to his zone and limit his movements, and to deliver dynamic information on activity indicators. These indicators unite the teams around common objectives (number of orders prepared, receipts made, pallets awaiting storage, etc.). These technologies are also there to limit the administrative tasks of making carrier appointments or those involving the search for evidence in case of customer or carrier disputes.
Let’s mention here the company In Virtus developing, thanks to IoT technology, a geolocation system for assets in the warehouse, or the company TKH Group on the provision of video evidence in the warehouse, and finally the dynamic Shiptify which has developed a real “Doctolib” of carrier appointment scheduling!
OPTIMIZE STORAGE & MOVEMENTS:
Some technologies allow to analyze the way goods are stored and thus assign to each item, according to its properties, a better storage strategy. The objective here is to reduce the number of order preparation trips or to limit the saturation of picking surfaces, and therefore their relocation or the return of products to storage. Still to optimize stocks, some solutions even go as far as analyzing and optimizing the thresholds of replenishment of a picking stock, improving at the same time the use of surfaces and the number of replenishments.
Finally, we could mention the solutions that increase the inventory frequency without increasing the human load. This would increase the quality of stock keeping. Algorithms will allow a smoothing of the reception activity over the week without impacting the resources and without “undressing” the preparation team or technologies that reduce the number of loading errors by setting up control points to go to the right aisle and load the right semi-trailer!
Thus, French companies specialized in Artificial Intelligence such as Fieldbox.io have developed algorithms allowing dynamic allocation of slots (slotting).