When it comes to managing warehouses, requirements continue to evolve: transparent communications, greater efficiency, streamlined processes. Going forward, a key role will be played by the Internet of Things, better known simply by its acronym IoT. This technology has the potential to revolutionize logistics, enabling the end-to-end digital transformation of production, transportation and documentation.
As the name suggests, the Internet of Things is about objects, devices and systems that are connected to the Internet. As a result, they can communicate with each other in real time – and can transmit data to central software solutions. This allows the various “things” to autonomously interact, react and improve processes. In other words, IoT will enable intralogistics to move to a whole new level of efficiency.
At the touch of a button
The following scenario illustrates how the new world of smart factories could look: someone presses a button at the end of a conveyor belt, and an entire production process is launched, with each step triggering the next. But how does it work? The conveyor belt wirelessly sends a message to the smartphone used by a forklift operator, telling them where to pick up the corresponding pallet. When the truck driver arrives at the defined destination, a digital label provides details of the products on the pallet, and where they need to be taken. Once the goods have arrived at their storage position, the digital waybill informs the logistics system that the item is ready to be collected.
IoT offers genuine value-added for intralogistics, delivering transparency, rapid responses and intelligence. It has the ability to significantly improve individual steps and entire processes, e.g. by means of
- Detailed monitoring, for example using RFID tags that allow parcels, pallets and products to be identified and tracked by means of electromagnetic fields, transmitting information to all devices with system access in real time,
- Improved warehouse management where systems monitor and analyze themselves, allowing them to adapt their behavior,
- Greater visibility via a central software solution that consolidates all data in real time and presents it in user-friendly form,
- Enhanced route planning through enriched information and goods and vehicles equipped with GPS,
- Extended data use and greater precision for ERP systems, especially with regard to customer service, forecasting and maintenance.
To fully realize the potential of IoT, companies need the right software, such as Dematic iQ. This powerful solution portfolio from automation specialist Dematic – combined with the capabilities of IoT – offers visibility into the entire process chain, generates actionable information and manages it intelligently. And these are essential factors in intralogistics – an industry that can harness IoT to create a more efficient, self-improving supply chain.