Tactics And Technologies That Help Operations Work Smarter, Not Harder

Distribution center resiliency
Distribution center resiliency

Tactics And Technologies That Help Operations Work Smarter, Not Harder

If your operations include any retail e-commerce or online fulfillment tasks, events of 2020 probably have pushed you and your distribution center (DC) management team to the point of exhaustion. As if the mental and emotional strains of COVID-19 aren’t enough, you’re challenged 24/7 by erratic spikes in e-commerce order volumes and competition for faster delivery times — all while rolling out comprehensive safety measures to keep workers and consumers safe.

Whether you feel your efforts rise to the occasion or not, you can’t possibly work any harder than you have over the past 10 months. This then begs the question: How can your warehouse operations be adjusted to work smarter?

The answer lies within a variety of advanced warehouse automation technologies and software that harness existing data to create more efficient, effective and accurate operations in the face of ongoing volatility:

  1. Robotic technologies — such as palletizing/depalletizing, articulated arm picking, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) — can be integrated into a variety of repetitive processes to reduce the reliance on manual labor, increasing efficiency, accuracy and productivity. Current associates can be reallocated to more value-added tasks that better align with wage rises.
  2. Voice-enabled devices, combined with analytics software, generate advanced data collection, automated documentation and productivity insights. Operations managers can leverage this information to optimize workforce productivity while reinforcing compliance with new safety protocols.
  3. Micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) shorten the distance between traditional fulfillment centers and consumers. Highly automated, higher-density, small-footprint MFCs can be utilized in stand-alone facilities, installed in dark stores or warehouses, or deployed within existing retail stores to address in-store, e-fulfillment models like click-and-collect or direct-to-consumer delivery.
  4. DC monitoring, control and visibility technologies help managers to continuously monitor every aspect of their facility — including personnel and assets — in real time. This enables the optimization of climate control and ventilation, occupancy flow, security and access control via a single, centralized dashboard view of key facility metrics.
  5. Data-driven insights into asset performance can be gathered by implementing connected, internet of things (IoT) infrastructures and leveraging the wealth of operational data found in equipment control systems. Such a system notifies DC managers of any issues that could potentially impact operations; provides trend analysis that could predict and prevent unplanned downtime; and uncovers opportunities to drive higher asset utilization and associated system productivity levels.
  6. Intelligent warehouse execution software (WES) is capable of orchestrating nearly every aspect of the order fulfillment lifecycle: from disparate automation systems and integrated processes to labor management, workload balancing and real-time decision-making. Powered by advanced data science capabilities — such as machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) — it factors in all variables and gives DC managers the decision intelligence to oversee various order priorities and address dynamic fulfillment demands.

Make Your Operations Smarter

As a full-service technology provider with deep domain expertise and interdisciplinary solutions, Honeywell Intelligrated can help you to deploy solutions such as these to build intelligence into your operations. Read this On The Move article to learn more about how we can help improve your workload. 

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