by Mr. T. Manivannan, Vice President, Operations.
Globally, from Amazon to Alibaba, Uber freight to drone delivery, technology in logistics has been at the forefront in the last few years. India is also seeing its fair share of action. It is predicted that over 85% of all businesses will be digital within the next five years.
Supply chain and logistics companies are now starting to implement technologies that are making everyone’s lives a lot easier. Heavy investments are being made by companies in India and around the world to ensure the best of technologies are implemented in a bid to improve the efficiency of the supply chain processes. Let’s look at a few technologies that are impacting our day-to-day lives in a significant way.
Best-of-breed WMS – Adopting the right WMS is critical to warehousing operations. No longer can businesses have a godown approach to warehousing operations. A major component that brings a touch of professionalism and accuracy is WMS. While there are options in basic WMS which help manage simple operations ranging from ASN, Receipt, Put-away Pick and Ship; those that give scope for integration with RFID, Put-to-light, Voice based pick etc. are the advanced versions which also give scope for scalability. Having the right WMS plays a key role in differentiating a 3PL from competition and the ability to use it effectively o best of use and reaping desired benefits showcases one as a clear winner amongst majors.
Hand Held Terminal (HHT) – Reducing interventional approach to doing job and keeping the human element of decision making minimal reduces the chances of errors and gives bear 100% accuracy. Augmenting WMS strengths lies on usage of handheld devices that help the user to move on a set process without much dependency on individual decision making. HHT plays an important role in using WMS capabilities to its best and android based mobility solutions also are catching up considering cost of ownership.
RFID – An industry technology that has been in the radar since sometime now still has a lot of relevance when it comes to automation. Given the scale, RFID enabled storage and retrieval has a lot on offer and is now a proven technology with most ERP solutions. Realtime locator and stock count not to mention guided put away and pick through RFID are some basis features available.
EDI – Gone are the days when data entry was a role in itself and as they say anything manual has the risk of having the error component attached to it. Automatic flow of data from clients’ ERPs to the SCM enabler softwares like WMS and TMS is a key feature and this gives a key benefit of seamless data visibility in both systems.
Pick and Put-away technologies – A warehouse as a matter of speaking is a bank which stores money in material form and processes that play an important role in maintaining sanity in the warehouse are mainly the put-away and pick processes as any miss in a bigger scale warehouse involves a lot of efforts to sort out such issues.
Voice pick – The best way man can communicate is through voice which no other creature can. Enabling warehouses to work with voice-based pick model is the best and easiest way a picker / put-away guy can coordinate and execute with a AI mechanism. Most AI tools available are done basis English as the language and not to mention the accent that one will have to use. Localized solutions which can support Indian languages will be welcome in an India scenario.
Google Glass 2 – Google Glass is a hands-free, head-mounted intelligent device that can be worn by users as “wearable computing” eyewear. Google Glass 2 supports augmented reality and is slated to transform workplace training. It will enable employees to access training materials anytime and anywhere and will enhance collaboration and connectivity.
Robotics – Witnessing Robotics and robots on screen has always been interesting and ever wondered how interesting it will be having robots as coworkers? Robotics managed high throughput warehouse operations are fast catching up. Efficiencies that bring in terms of hours of work and reduced error rate will set off the high investments and future of bigger operations lies with robots.
Drones – Off late pizza deliveries and wedding video shoots are seeing use of drones and why not for deliveries and in warehouse operations? With cost reducing for these flying machines use of drones for deliveries and picking at higher levels will become a good use case for drones.
Cloud storage – Most of us have been casualties of failed Hard drives and loss of date and most of the times it is critical mails and efforts of days of hard work that are lost in a second and hearing the engineer saying that you have lost all data sometimes sounds like the end of the world. Cloud based storage for all such critical data at a cost that is worth paying comparing the loss of data. Future is moving towards cloud and we have moved our critical applications to cloud and planning a lot more in that space to reduce dependency.