From RFID scanners to smart management systems, Industry 4.0 introduces a multitude of technologies into the warehouse, transforming it into a smart, adaptive environment
The smart warehouse is a mini-ecosystem. Its automated and interconnected technologies help to drive the distribution. But, as we enter the brave new digital world of Industry 4.0 (I4.0), the warehouse is evolving to meet the growing pressures applied to it further up the chain. This will be achieved by integrating the digital and the physical – improving productivity in the process.
Here’s what Industry 4.0 looks like in the smart warehouse:
- Connected I4.0 tech
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Voice picking
- Vision picking
- Warehouse management system (WMS)
- Semi-autonomous machines
- Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
Connected I4.0 tech
The technologies that have converged to create I4.0, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and analytics, augmented reality, wearables, computer vision, low-cost sensors, and robots and cobots and high-level computing, are combining to enhance warehouse automation.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is at the heart of smart warehousing, ensuring that the various components work together properly. Therefore, robots can communicate with RFID scanners, which can communicate with conveyors, which can communicate with a warehouse management system (WMS). The IoT means all of this happens automatically and seamlessly, without losing any data along the way.
Vision picking uses augmented reality (AR) technology to overlay graphical images on a human worker’s line of vision. In this way, the view of the physical objects can be significantly enhanced with extra data such as digital information. Although AR and vision picking might be in the relatively early stages of adoption in logistics, the technology has much to offer. This includes allowing users to find objects faster and with more accuracy. It can also reduce the need to separate different types of products and help to identify the precise positioning of any one batch among many. This will significantly impact on warehouse layout.
Warehouse management system
A warehouse management system (WMS) helps to capture, manage and view a range of data across warehouse operations.
Ygl i4 ERP Industry 4.0 solution has already begun the transition to a fully integrated, connected and digitised Industry 4.0 supply chain network through the use of TW Pick and Pack and warehouse management software.
Sensor detection technology can provide digital information about physical conditions. This allows semi-autonomous machines to adjust their physical movement, and can also be used to provide data that enables predictive maintenance. This can be applied in packaging, so that machines are able to detect changes in product size and shape. In turn, this will automatically notify the control system to reset the packaging configuration to make sure the correct packing box is being used. A smart, automated industrial process like this can reduce the time needed to adjust the machine and put it back into operation manually.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
Radio-frequency identification is replacing traditional barcode scanners in maintaining inventory control. Instead of having a paper label, products and packages coming into the warehouse are given a digital tag. Radio waves then transfer the data to or between the digital tags. An automated scanning system records the product’s information.
I4.0 technologies are allowing warehouses to adapt to the significant changes that are impacting upon their businesses, helping them evolve into a crucial element of the integrated, smart supply chain, improving productivity in the process.
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