Smart warehouses: automating with real-time data

Sep 25, 2020
Innovation

At a time when shippers and carriers are striving to reach greater levels of service excellence than ever before, it’s important to recognize that B2B customers are not much different to B2C customers; they just have different needs and a different sense of urgency. They live in an increasingly connected world and there is a new expectation to be able to access real-time information, in an instant. Expectations around the delivery experience are growing continuously and this has a significant impact on all parts of the supply chain.

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Warehouses are critical supply chain components, allowing organizations to regulate their flows of goods and ensure they're available for end customers at the right place and at the right time, in turn helping to maximize sales. As operational pressures increase in response to more demanding customers, the ability to streamline activities and maximize operational capacities has become a key focus for management.

Striving for perfect processes tends to require both having perfect information (e.g. lots of reliable data) and advanced computational power to make sense of it all. Having a full and accurate picture of operations at any given moment is only possible with the right technology. Real-time visibility solutions offer this possibility, by connecting with thousands of monitoring devices and systems in order to provide a single, holistic view of activities.

Without this visibility, a number of challenges exist both within transportation management itself and for all areas that surround transportation, including litigation, customer service, warehouse productivity, inventory management, stock outs and production line halts, just to name a few.

There is a lot of demand across the industry for smarter systems and tools. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) now need to be capable of coordinating with multiple other platforms, to make important information available to the decision makers that need it, in real-time. This is only possible with system integration, which allows smarter processes and actions to be taken and common problems to be avoided. A WMS should be a smart engine able to pilot the warehouse. In order to do that, it needs to gather multiple data sets and gain insights from them using advanced algorithms.

This allows decisions to be automated. Data and insights can be accessed easily on interactive dashboards. Only exceptions now need to be managed, allowing staff to focus on value-adding tasks. The overall result is more efficiency, more profitability and happier customers.

Integrating next-generation WMS softwares with real-time visibility platforms like Shippeo’s allows for some breakthrough efficiencies to be gained. Once technical connections are made, and carriers are onboarded, we can anticipate, using advanced machine learning algorithms processing GPS and TMS data, when trucks will arrive and whether they are arriving at the time slot needed, continuously adapting the flow and allowing for more dynamic resource planning.

For example, if a logistics manager at a cross-dock knows that a seafood delivery is late, he can delay ongoing transport and prioritize teams to help unload and move goods on. The rest of the elements prepared for the same truck can remain stored away from a dock door, avoiding congestion.

The real-time ETAs can also trigger SMS notifications or emails to customers on whether deliveries are on-time, creating an opportunity to improve decision making or actions taken further down the chain. The availability of accurate and reliable data also offers the ability to add an improvement layer, to accurately track KPI performance, in real-time, feeding continuous improvement plans across operations.

Discover more examples of how combining a WMS with Shippeo’s real-time transportation visibility platform is helping organizations automate their supply chain processes in our webinar ‘Smart Warehouses: the value of real-time visibility for better operations

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