Using tech to boost warehouse operations
Gopal Valecha, Vice-President in Strategic Alliances & Consulting, BCIL talks about the growing trend to embrace wireless technology to transform warehouse operations. He mentions various technologies which can be deployed in a warehouse to make operation
In today’s competitive world, the organisations are more focussed on making their supply chains lean & visible to draw more profitability in the market. The companies are using various technologies to enhance visibility in their supply chains and thus making it more efficient and profitable.
One of the most important and an integral part of any supply chain is warehousing of goods/ materials. A system which is used to control the movement and storage of materials within a warehouse and process the associated transactions, including shipping, receiving, put away and picking, is called Warehouse Management System (WMS).
There are various technologies such as bar coding, RFID and wireless, available that could be deployed in a warehouse to make warehouse operations more efficient, productive and optimised.
Barcode and RFID are two most commonly used AIDC (Automatic Identification & Data Capture) technologies which are used in supply chain operations (inventory, warehouse, despatch management etc) for collecting the information from the products in an automated manner.
A barcode is a series of vertical bars and spaces carrying information about the object to which it is attached in a machine readable format. This property of a barcode enables its use as an effective tool for automatic identification and data capture. As opposed to manual data entry, which is tedious and prone to inaccuracies, barcodes enable automatic data capture with 100 per cent accuracy.
In warehouse operations, data can be captured from barcodes placed on products (cartons or pallets ) through barcode scanners and transmitted to warehouse management systems.
Another is Radio Frequency Identification or RFID, is a technology that allows the identification of tagged items without a line of sight. It includes a tag, a reader and a computer system. A RFID tag containing a tiny microchip and an antenna is placed on an object.
Unlike barcode technology, RFID reader can read the data from the tags affixed on products from few inches to few metres without placing reader in front of products or tags. In warehouse operations, both these technologies can be used to capture the product information automatically with speed & accuracy, eliminate errors, reduce manual intervention, provide visibility of goods & its movement in a warehouse in real time or near time basis.
Wireless and mobile technologies have revolutionised the efficiency and productivity of warehouse operations. Wireless network connections provide a clear, real-time view of all activities happening in the warehouse and enable them to efficiently count and track inventory, improve order fulfilment accuracy, and provide workers with real-time communication.
It is an ideal fit for the complexity of the warehouse environment. It simplifies the management of inventory through Automated Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) technologies, such as barcode and RFID.
The use of wireless technology in the warehouse to deliver real time computing benefits is an established practice worldwide.
From receiving inventory to outbound distribution, warehouses increasingly rely on wireless technologies to streamline the logistics of their operations and enhance overall productivity by fulfilling orders more accurately and quickly than before.
Gopal Valecha Vice-President in Strategic Alliances & Consulting, BCIL