As per the research, McKinsey estimates that IoT can decrease the cost of sorting warehouse goods up to 30% by 2025, saving business around 6-19 billion dollars annually.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is here to change our world so awesome! As billions of physical devices around the world are connected to the internet, IoT has made it easier to track, analyze and access real-time information of the connected objects across the world. With this digital intelligence, it enables to communicate without the human being involved and merging digital and physical space.
When it comes to the warehouse management, IoT would enable unlimited scalability, high efficiency, would streamline inventory management and increase overall productivity.
Introduction of IoT in Warehouse: Use of Beacons in Warehouse Management
The so-called smart warehouse enables the workers to move about and access information and instructions from anywhere in the warehouse. By leveraging the power of IoT, a smart warehouse can serve as a hub to boost efficiency and speed in the entire supply chain.
But How It Can Be Done?
This can be done with the help of BLE, an IoT solution which would monitor the status of assets, packages and automates the process with the aim of obtaining more quality, predictability and reducing costs. BLE-based IoT solutions use beacons that can be attached to your asset to track the asset within the vicinity. Beacon warehouse management application can reduce manual labor, increase speed and shipping accuracy and provide visibility of inventory and supply chains.
Before digging out details, let’s first understand the gist about beacons.
What is Beacon?
Beacon is a low-cost, low-power transmitter small device that works on wireless technology and uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to provide location-based information directly on the smart-phone. With the help of Beacon, the beacon-based mobile app can understand the user’s physical location and accordingly delivers hyper-contextual content to the user. In recent times, the beacon is dominating the world like no other technology from malls to park, to airlines, stadium, museum, hotel and many more. This tiny device is changing our lives every single day.
Why There is a Need for Beacon in Warehouse?
It is because; the use of inferior and unstable warehouse management software leads to the troubles during the time when a number of order increases and traffic are at the high peak. These results into lack of full-time inventory visibility, out of stock problem or excess of stock problem, return problems, order inaccuracy, less work productivity and much more. Hence, this ultimately has impacted your balance sheet! True?
Everyone who is still using traditional and unstable warehouse management software in the new age trends come across such challenges and find it difficult to stand tall amongst competitors.
Beacons in Action for Warehouse Management
If beacons are installed at various places in the warehouse, and associated mobile app is developed it would
- Streamline your warehouse management process by locating the important assets
- Provide the real-time status of your inventory
- Enhances productivity
On a lighter note, Beacon would automate the warehouse management process in single clicks while also making sure that smart warehouse principles/new age trends are followed. BLE technology is set to improve your business, leading to the improvements in sensing, planning, reporting and much more.
Wondering, how it can drive operational efficiencies, cost reductions and address your challenges in the warehouse?
Let’s Have a Look at its Key Features.
Warehouse Asset Tracking
Much of the time and money can be saved by deploying beacons in a warehouse for your manufacturing operations to track your valuable assets. For tracking any important asset, you need to deploy beacon on the asset and map it with the associated beacon-based warehouse mobile app. Doing so, it tracks the location in real time and gathers the important data like how often the asset was used, by whom it is used, at which time it was used, how long it was in use and much more. Moreover, with Beacon tags, employees working in the warehouse can find the pallets with ease; regardless at which place they are kept or get missing at any location or not handled properly or handled by the wrong person. Hence, it becomes easy for the warehouse professional to get reports of each asset and can have access to it even from the remote location.
Optimizes Physical Space
Underutilized space is a major concern in the warehouse. You may have faced the situation where during loading and unloading of stocks, you may have missed out the extra storage space in your warehouse. Although, inventory audits can help in identifying the free space but can become tedious in managing due to the time it takes to scan large warehouse manually. With the Bluetooth beacons in the warehouse, warehouse professional can have instant visibility of the available space in any corner of the warehouse.
Overstocking and under-stocking of the products can result into serious problems for warehouse professional costing the organization heavily. But, wouldn’t be great if your warehouse keeps track of the inventory that comes in and goes out? This will increase the throughput of the warehouse enabling to forecast inventory in a better way and helping to make smart decisions. If the beacon-based mobile app is developed, you can track the movements of the inventory right from the point when it comes to the warehouse till the time it gets dispatched. Having such handy data, it is easy to figure it out which shelves are empty in the warehouse, its average dwell time and much more.
Ageing Inventory Tracking
Perishable items like drugs, food packets, groceries, confectionaries etc. are the products which need to be kept in certain environmental temperature. So, to ensure if the products are of further use or not, warehouse professionals need to check each and every item manually; which increases the chance of errors. But, with the beacon app development, you can automate the whole cycle; keeping the track of expiry dates and temperature to prevent the stock from going bad.
Asset Performance Tracking
It is quite challenging for the warehouse managers to know which asset is working well and which is not. In such a scenario, if there are 8 forklifts and out of them only 3 are performing well; what would you do in case of an emergency? Regrettably, you have to work with only 3 forklifts which obviously will lead to low performance and delayed the result. But, if Bluetooth beacons are deployed on each forklift, you will come to know instantly which assets are performing well and are working condition and which are degraded. Beacons have the ability to monitor and perform audits of each asset and ensure their regular maintenance.
Benefits of Using Beacons in Warehouse
After understanding the features of beacons in warehouse, there is no doubt that it offers numerous benefits which include:-
Let’s admit it, security is always the concern be it is home or office. Losing a large number of assets is simply not acceptable; it is necessary to have security thing to take care of all assets in a warehouse. A warehouse can be the burglary-prone area because it has a number of products all under one roof. If Bluetooth beacons are deployed and associated beacon-based mobile app is developed, it can automate the access control. This means, in case of any mishap happens, it triggers the alarms indicating that assets are moved outside the defined range.
As the warehouse operations grow, keeping track of each and every worker’s performance becomes complicated and monotonous. In such case, with the help of beacon warehouse management application, warehouse owner can easily track the general movements of the employee, ensuring that the right employees are at the right place at the right time. They can know the time and location of the worker at some particular place which leads to increased efficiency, work performance, great output and at the end increases work productivity.
Communication Gap Management
Workers involved in the list of the supply chain are very long which includes warehouse workers, manufacturers, managers, and salesmen. When one thing goes wrong, it affects the chain of other people. For instance, let’s say cloth wholesaler sells clothes to the retailer and during the transit one of the merchandise is found missing; hence a wholesaler is unable to make its delivery on time. This missing merchandise affects many people involved in this supply chain. If a beacon is used in warehouse and with other people in the supply chain, it helps to alert everyone involved in the supply chain and ultimately prevents inventory management problems. It proves to be a great communication tool enabling to share information between various workers involved in the supply chain.
When warehouse professional is nearby any asset or physical object, beacons can trigger notification about safety instruction or other instructional content and can even provide the audit history of the people who have used that asset and much more. It helps to eliminate the collisions that are involved in forklift preventing people from being struck by the loads. It proves to be an ideal tool for planning your safety policies and procedures.
In huge multi-storied warehouses which covers a massive acre of space are generally have a huge number of assets and inventories. In some cases, it may happen that warehouse professional can get lost or need assistance from the other professionals. So, to avoid that, beacon technology can be used inside the warehouse! The beacon-based mobile app can help professionals in way-finding and indoor navigation with the help of indoor maps.
Determines Key Performance Indicator
An overall warehousing strategy depends on measuring the right key performance indicators. However, inventory carrying cost, order turnover, picking accuracy, order return, meeting demand spikes, tracking seasonal trends, minimizing the loss of goods and much more is quite difficult. But, if Bluetooth beacons are used in a right way, it can help to overcome this! Beacons will help to improve these KPI and will put your warehouse management on track to increase performance and ultimately results in more cost savings.
So, What Ultimately Beacon Can Bring To A Table?
- End-to-end visibility of the inventory
- Real-time updates on inventory counts
- Forecast the demand in a better way
- Faster communication
- Secured data-exchange over a short distance
Implementation of Beacon App Development Process and Warehouse Management Software
Research and Strategy Planning
The idea of using beacons and IoT in warehouse must be examined and you must research how each component will work together to implement warehouse management system in the better way. Moreover, it is also important to determine what kind of networking, communication and alerting process will be followed to generate the high ROI. Furthermore, identify the gaps in the existing process and build the operational strategy that can satisfy your business needs.
This phase includes the configuration of the beacon and mobile apps that are compatible with each other to match the unique need of your warehouse. This stage also involves the setting of business roles and user access rights to import data from employees/customer/suppliers/users etc. From the technology perspective, this can be considered as a key area before commencing the deployment operations.
Test, Test, Test until you get the satisfying result! Well, testing the beacon-based application and beacons in warehouse is not a straightforward task compared to the other apps. You need to produce test scripts, run test scenarios often multiple times. Test the business processes with the type of test that includes Unit/System/Acceptance/Load/Regression and repeats these exercise several times.
Upon testing and integrations, beacons are placed at the appropriate locations in warehouse and are paired with the mobile apps. Accurate data is uploaded into the database and warehouse operator can access the system via smart-phone, search for the asset, tract it, can produce the beeping sound which can straightly lead to the destination. Everything can be done in just a few clicks.
It is true that warehouse management gets an extra boost after deploying beacons! Warehouse can be transformed to the smart warehouse by integrating with mobile technology and BLE beacons. Although Beacons are still young in IOT warehouse space but can help to save money by optimizing operations.
We hope, you have got a clear idea of how beacon works in a warehouse and what perks it can bring to the table. If in-case you are looking to get a beacon mobile app for your warehouse or other IT Solutions for Logistics and Supply chain Business, get in touch with us. Our expert consultant will help you to convert your warehouse into a smart warehouse.