The warehousing industry is experiencing a major transformation. From simply being a storage location for goods or inventory, warehouses now play an important role in improving supply chain efficiency. One of the technologies driving this change is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Simplistically, IoT is a set of devices that are connected to each other via the internet to a central system and are used to send and receive signals and data. This technology has found applications in various business sectors including warehouse management. The use of the Internet of Things in warehousing helps in getting consistent visibility over the products and their assets, including manpower. It increases efficiency and accuracy in stock picking and delivery. By using IoT devices, warehouse management can remotely monitor and manage stocks, reduce the need for excess labor, and eliminate errors related to supply chain management. It helps in the automation of many processes by streamlining and increasing the efficiency of warehouse workflow.

In this article, I will discuss various applications of IoT in warehouse management.

Applications of IoT in warehouse management

Managing assets: The use of IoT in managing assets in a warehouse lets the devices track and monitor the assets and inventory continuously. Sensors such as RFID tags, when attached to assets, inventory storage, and goods, send continuous information regarding their condition, location, and usage. This data can be analyzed and used to maximize asset utilization and reduce working downtime. IoT can also aid in preventing theft as the devices monitor the assets continuously and provide real-time feedback. By managing assets and improving their use, IoT can increase efficiency, leading to better cost control and an increase in profitability.

Automated tracking of assets: Attaching IoT sensors like RFID tags and BLE beacons to warehouse inventory and assets is possible. These devices can be used to observe, monitor, and track the location of assets. Automated tracking using IoT can also help reduce or even eliminate the process of manually tracking assets. When assets are tracked using IoT sensors, it helps ensure that the inventory is accurately counted, removing the possibility of misplacing or loss of assets. IoT can also keep track of the condition of assets and send alerts in case any potential problem is encountered.

Optimizing inventory: When RFID tags, BLE beacons, and other IoT sensors are attached to assets and the inventory racks, they relay data-based information on the addition or depletion of inventory levels to the warehouse management system. This flow of information enables the warehouse system to update inventory levels continuously and in real-time. This information lets the warehouse management make accurate estimates to decide on increasing or decreasing the inventory. This process also helps ensure that the warehouse maintains the required inventory levels as required. IoT devices can help control various conditions like temperature, lighting, etc., which helps in storing the inventory properly. The flow of information from various IoT devices also lets the warehouse management understand and predict an increase or decrease in demand and make decisions based on data that allows the warehouse to run efficiently.

Eliminate errors in supply chain: IoT devices spread across the warehouse can provide consistent information on the inventory that helps in minimizing misplacement or loss of stocks. IoT sensors like RFID tags can be used to track and locate inventory very accurately, which helps in ensuring that the stock is picked and delivered as per the order received, therefore eliminating errors in the supply chain. It also ensures that the material received in the warehouse is also as per order. The overall result of using IoT in warehouse management is the elimination of errors in order management, which leads to a more accurate, efficient, and reliable supply chain.

Proactive maintenance: When IoT sensors are attached to various warehouse machinery like forklifts and palletizers they can scan the equipment for its performance and send alerts in case it finds any working irregularities. This information can then be used to forecast potential problems and ensure proactive maintenance is done to prevent machine failure. When proactive maintenance is done it results in increasing equipment lifespan, improving productivity and saving on costs.

Monitor warehouse conditions: One of the applications of IoT is monitoring warehouse conditions like lighting, temperature, etc. When IoT sensors are installed in the instrumentation panels of the warehouse, they can be used to manage and control various conditions as needed. Such IoT applications can ensure that warehouse management is cost-effective and efficient.

Security: The Internet of Things can be used to increase and strengthen the security of the warehouse premises from both within and outside. IoT sensors can be installed in the security cameras that can scan the premises 24/7 and provide footage to the warehouse management. The IoT sensors can also be programmed to prevent any unauthorized access. By tracking the movement of staff, goods, and machinery, the application of IoT in warehouses can reduce the risk of mismanagement or theft.

Final Words

Modern technologies like the IoT are instrumental in changing warehouse management and its operations. They help automate the time-consuming manual tasks that increase efficiency to benefit warehouse operations and lead to better business and higher revenue. IoT in warehouse management and its applications like asset management, proactive maintenance, increase in security, eliminating errors in supply chain, has helped optimize warehouse management. The data provided by IoT helps in making informed decisions that help in increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Author's Bio: 

Kaushal Shah manages digital marketing communications for the enterprise technology services provided by Rishabh Software.