What is a smart warehouse? What are the benefits?
Logistics is an area in which efficiency, process optimization, and speed are of particular significance in gaining a meaningful competitive advantage. Especially now that online trading is so powerful and popular, the supply chain is facing many new challenges. The introduction of modern technologies is of great importance in improving the work of this sector. Therefore, many logistics companies implement innovative solutions, such as smart warehouses. Increasing automation in the management of orders and deliveries, the use of warehouse management systems or analytics has a positive effect on the functioning of logistics businesses. Let’s take a closer look at the smart warehouse concept and its benefits.
What is a smart warehouse?
An intelligent warehouse is a warehouse system in which some or all of the processes are automated. The operations performed in smart warehouses are closely interconnected and just as important. The use of modern technologies to improve warehouse procedures contributes to increased productivity and efficiency. Smart warehouses use artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and robotics to connect processes, improve information flow and smooth the performance of the entire system. Moreover, modern warehouse management systems help companies manage smart warehouses. Such platforms can be custom developed to fit the needs and demands of a given business.
What is the main goal of a smart warehouse?
Smart warehousing is a way of more effective management that translates into various profits. It can help businesses optimize their supply chain and provide the tools they need to be more productive. Warehouse management systems give logistics businesses better insight into the processes and operation of the warehouse, data transparency and the ability to collect them efficiently. They help you stay on schedule, effectively manage resources and their processing on the production line and deliver goods to customers on time. Smart warehouses enable businesses to unleash their full potential.
What are the benefits of a smart warehouse?
Many logistics companies choose to update their supply chain with smart warehouses. It is a solution that benefits both businesses and consumers.
- Lower operating costs – smart warehouses reduce demand for employees and optimize their efficiency. This contributes to lower operating costs, which in turn may translate into lower prices of goods and services for consumers. This ability to offer more affordable rates for the same products is a notable competitive advantage. After all, price is a major factor in purchasing decisions.
- Better customer service – due to the increased interest in online shopping in recent years, the supply chain sector has become even more critical in providing good customer service. The advantages of smart warehouses, such as fast shipping, affordable prices and a lower likelihood of returns, are essential features for customers. Therefore, smart warehouses help to ensure their satisfaction and meet expectations.
- Optimization – technologies and tools used in smart warehouses provide insight into the entire process, help to detect problems and potential threats on an ongoing basis, as well as control workflow and manage resources. Such support in the form of intelligent software full of analytical tools and monitoring systems helps to optimize and improve key performance indicators.
- Efficient order planning and processing – utilizing complex analytics and AI to manage smart warehouses help you gain greater visibility into orders processed by your warehouse and improve supply chain planning. It is also easier to estimate future orders and thus streamline warehouse operations and reduce expenses.
- Faster shipping – smart warehouses are a way to increase efficiency and reduce errors while completing orders. Compared to traditional warehouses, where order processing takes a long time and includes the human factor prone to errors, smart warehouses are the optimal solution. The order dispatch process is supported by robots that automate the process and reduce the time needed to complete orders. This contributes to faster shipping, which is a very important factor for consumers.
- Fewer returns – automation and the use of robots for order picking help reduce mistakes compared to manual work. In this way, smart warehouses help to reduce the number of goods returns. They also enable faster processing once such an event occurs. Increased accuracy and speed of service result in greater customer satisfaction and retention.
What is the best smart warehouse technology?
In fact, more than one best technology that helps you build an effective smart warehouse management system. Here are some of the most innovative of them.
Blockchain technology works well not only in the cryptocurrency or FinTech market. When it comes to supply chain and warehouse management, this technology helps to track the physical location of goods and gain immediate insight into inventory levels or sales effectiveness of a given item. Blockchain, due to its features such as increased security and transparency, also helps in detecting theft, more proactive inventory management and forecasting demand based on data logs provided by technology.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is a popular and very effective technology in this sector. IoT connects all devices with Internet access and allows them to communicate with each other and share data. It helps to create an extremely effective, more comprehensive system for the entire warehouse. IoT can also help reduce errors in the entire process by collecting all data in one system. This enables artificial intelligence to use collected data to conduct comprehensive and predictive analyzes.
AI allows machines to collect data, analyze it, and learn from it. This has a positive effect on the development of the company and creates more and more efficient processes. Artificial intelligence is used for many tasks, including the protection of warehouses. With the help of IoT, AI can collect data and create a holistic strategy for better warehouse operation.
What is WMS software?
WMS, which means Warehouse Management System, is a type of software used in logistics to manage the flow of products in warehouses. This solution is used to coordinate warehouse work, improving all processes that take place in warehouses. They are often a technology supporting the operation of an ERP management system.
What is the difference between ERP and WMS?
ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is software for effective planning of managing the entire enterprise resources. It automates activities in all departments of the organization, including accounting, customer relationship management, inventory management, and facilitates the flow of information. The main difference between WMS and ERP is that WMS systems offer inventory optimization based on real-time information. Information can be generated in the form of reports based on historical trends and data that determine the best location for each inventory item. Actually, ERP software will have WMS functionality but on a smaller scale.
What is the best program to keep track of inventory?
Take a look at some of the notable program examples.
Sortly is a full-fledged inventory management system that can be accessed directly from your smartphone. It offers a built-in barcode and QR code scanner, stock alerts and customization features. Sortly includes an offline mode that allows you to scan incoming and outgoing items, even without a connection. It has several pricing plans to choose from.
inFlow Inventory is a very powerful inventory management software. It is available in an extensive, full of advanced functions of a desktop application, as well as a slightly reduced mobile version. inFlow Inventory offers team management, supplier and customer tracking, and order management. Besides, the inFlow mobile application allows you to use the built-in barcode reader, adjust inventory levels and create new sales orders and orders.
Stock Control Inventory is an on-the-go inventory management solution especially useful for businesses with intense tracking needs. It allows you to sort goods by location, complete detailed information about items in stock, generate PDS catalogs based on current inventory levels, and more. Currently, the app is only available on iOS devices.
Building a smart warehouse is undoubtedly a challenge that requires a lot of work and good planning. Ensuring proper integration of the system and all its elements needs an appropriate strategy and adoption of suitable technological solutions. Hence, it is good to make changes gradually and analyze the market first. In the beginning, it is worth considering implementing a warehouse management system. If you have doubts as to which way to go with your business development, you can use our consulting and development services. We have built a lot of smart warehouse support systems, so we have the experience to improve your supply chain.