Efficiency Enhanced: The Benefits of Connected Warehouses

Today’s warehouse is changing as new technologies allow for greater efficiency and reduced downtime. The Internet of Things is behind many of these shifts, as it offers facility managers a new way to accurately track inventory and orders, schedule necessary maintenance to essential equipment and discover inefficiencies within the operation.

Ways to integrate connected devices and sensors throughout your warehouse are seemingly countless. Speaking with an expert at Miner Corp. can help you understand how you can benefit from a more connected warehouse.

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Sensors aid in forklift maintenance

Keeping forklifts in top condition is an important aspect in any warehouse. Whether you own these essential vehicles or lease them, collecting data on them can help you save money through reduced maintenance costs as well as cut down on time spent waiting for forklift repairs to be completed.

“Sensors on forklifts compile data about when they’re used, where and by who.”

A forklift with a drained battery can quickly clog up operations. Because of this, it’s important that forklifts are charged before the trucks die. Sensors that alert the facility manager or user of a low battery on a forklift can keep operations running smoothly, Logistics Viewpoint explained.

Other sensors that can be installed on forklifts might compile data about when they’re used, where and by who. This data can be useful to determine where bottlenecks are happening in your facility, or where the environment needs to be improved.

Supply Chain 24/7 reported on one company, a sand and investments castings manufacturer in Washington, that leased forklifts and paid substantial maintenance fees at the end of each term. The company installed a system that monitored impact on the forklifts throughout the warehouse, including days and times when the vehicles were used.

By studying the data collected by the sensors, the company was able to identify problem areas in the warehouse, like where potholes caused increased damage to the forklifts. After fixing those areas, the company reduced their impact-related vehicle damage rate by 90 percent, ultimately saving them money at the end of their lease.

Keep track of inventory

Inventory management can be a challenge in many warehouses. Pickers may need to understand a storage system or even consult a map to determine where they can find certain items. The Internet of Things has introduced a solution to this time-consuming puzzle as well.

More warehouses are attaching radio-frequency identification tags to each item stored. Workers scan the tags when stocking the shelves, creating a log of where items can be found and how long they’ve been there.

This helps in a number of ways. First, when working with perishable goods, the RFID scanning system will give insight into how long a product stays fresh before going bad and needing to be thrown away, Supply Chain 24/7 pointed out.

RFID tags can also help strategically organize a warehouse – or, in some cases, disorganize it. Amazon’s Prime Now warehouses have no rhyme or reason to the arrangement of items on their shelves, Business Insider reports. Instead, each item is scanned when placed. The address is automatically stored in a database.

When an order comes through, pickers with handheld devices are shown the quickest route to grab and pack each item on the list. Since products are randomly organized, there’s a better chance that the route will be quicker than if specific shelves only had particular items.

Connected material handling systems

Your warehouse contains a lot of equipment. It’s not all related to the supply chain, either. Beyond the conveyors, the doors and your other essential systems, you also have lighting, air conditioning, warehouse fans – all the things that keep your building operational and safe for employees.

These systems are hard to keep track of. But it’s critical that you keep up with them, knowing the signs that maintenance work is in order, or the symptoms of a failing system that soon will need replacing.

Warehouse Control System and Building Automation Systems make facility managers’ lives easier by compiling data that clues them in on how equipment is working and when to turn on or off certain building systems, Forbes contributor Steve Banker reported.

Diagnostics information on key equipment helps to tackle a problem before it holds up your operation. And the ability to control all fans, lights and other building operations from one location – or even a single device or application – can save facility managers time in their daily tasks.

If you’re looking to make upgrades to your warehouse to improve efficiency, reach out to Miner Corp. We’ll install, upgrade and maintain any of your essential systems – from forklifts and loading dock doors to lights and warehouse fans.