Wireless Innovation and Machine Vision are Underpinning Operational Success in the Warehouse
The needs of the modern warehouse are changing, and the warehouse of the future will be no different. Customers continue to expect faster deliveries and competitors are always looking for that all important advantage. The key to meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and finding that advantage is choosing the right solution for both customer and operation.
There are so many technologies making an impact on the fulfilment space, but wireless networking and machine vision could be the most influential. From picking and packing to navigating the warehouse floor, both provide the opportunity to solve key pressure points and make business-critical processes faster and more cost effective to run.
Here are some of the main ways machine vision and wireless connectivity could elevate the operations in your warehouse facilities:
Machine vision and the benefits of industrial automation
Machine vision covers the process and technologies that enable static cameras and mobile camera systems to not just capture an image but analyse its entire contents (one of our recent blogs can provide you with a deeper device on machine vision and the use of AI). For the warehouse, these cameras enable organisations to analyse an image in its entirety and utilise that data to enhance processes around the business.
Machine vision has multiple uses across the warehouse floor, including:
Even the best workers are fallible and can miss faults or issues during an inspection. A machine vision camera system can deliver 100% quality assurance and analyse package sizes, contact information and even identify faults or damages.
Machine vision enables warehouses to speed up countless processes, such as QA procedures, picking and packing workflows. Being able to scan an item or area and provide rapid analysis can drastically reduce the time it takes to complete said process.
Monitoring pain points
Every warehouse will come under periods of increased business, and with them comes spikes in pressure on key processes. Machine vision has the capability to identify these pain points fast so operators and managers can adjust their operations.
Alongside monitoring pain and pressure points, machine vision also offers the ability to proactively predict when a piece of equipment or overall process could fail. This enables users to adjust workloads to avoid periods of costly downtime.
Machine vision use cases for the warehouse or DC
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to improve how flexible and agile a warehouse can be with machine vision at its disposal. Gaining that all important competitive advantage comes from using these innovations to enhance or transform existing processes.
Meeting warehouse compliance
Compliance, for example, can be elevated with the use of a machine vision camera system. The combination of software and hardware all feeding into the Warehouse Management System (WMS) offers the ability to meet multiple forms of compliance. More than one type of data can be captured at once, so everything from batch numbers to serial numbers can be scanned, processed and fed back into the system instantaneously.
Scanning damaged barcodes
Some barcodes may be unreadable, even for a machine vision camera system, but that doesn’t mean a pallet, package or item cannot be processed. When properly calibrated, machine vision can identify a barcode that is too damaged to scan, then draw the information it needs from another source on the item, such as using character recognition to process an address.
Enhancing pop-up warehouses with machine vision and Wi-Fi
One area machine vision and wireless can benefit the fulfilment space is the pop-up warehouse. The effects of the pandemic and Brexit have had a profound effect on the warehousing industry, with many warehouses renting out corners of their premises to organisations that want to run temporary ‘pop-up’ operations for seasonal business.
Stock is constantly changing and means staff need to learn new inventory lists and updated inventory layouts. One powerful solution underpinned by machine vision and a robust wireless network is the use of real-time location system (RTLS). Positioning and tracking systems have vastly improved in recent years due to advancements in Bluetooth and accuracy ranges of 1m.
With an RTLS solution in place, pop-up operations can automatically generate pick lists based on adjusted inventories. This also extends to picking routes that guide staff on foot and in forklifts directly to the items they need to fulfil an order. It also helps enhance health and safety policies, identifying areas that staff are not allowed to enter or forklift routes that are currently populated with workers.
How machine vision and wireless can help warehouses meet their SLAs
Service level agreements (SLAs) are a commitment of service between the warehouse and the customer, and those customers expect those agreed terms and deadlines to meet without fail. Architecting, deploying and optimising a wireless network is vital to meeting these SLAs for both pop-up warehouses and more permanent fulfilment operations.
Conducting a site survey enables warehouse organisations to see their entire network and the extent of their coverage. It will help you identify current network black spots and enable you to craft a new network infrastructure that removes consistent signal dropout issues. With an optimised network in place, you can evaluate if your current devices are meeting those SLAs and whether a back-up system is in place should they – or the network – unexpectedly go down.
Even using different models from different vendors can have a drastic effect if those devices have not been carefully calibrated to work on your new network. Without that optimisation, you risk missing an SLA. Having a service wrap from a technology solutions partner in place addresses this issue, giving your operations and your network the peace of mind you need should a problem occur.
Why the ‘Renovotec Approach’ is so important for warehouses and DCs
As a leading name in end-to-end AIDC technology solutions, we believe that every customer is unique in the operational needs and constraints. That’s the basis of the ‘Renovotec Approach’, a consultation service that examines the key pain points of a warehouse and recognises the invaluable input of key stakeholders who experience these issues first hand.
It’s this due diligence that ensures your new technology solution is tailor-made to your exact requirements and budget, with everything from the extent of your wireless infrastructure to the implementation of machine vision innovation carefully attuned to your warehouse operations. That personalised approach is what makes the difference between an ‘off the shelf’ solution that may not properly address your issues and a tailor-made solution from specialists you can trust.
Want to hear more about the benefits of an optimised wireless network and a machine vision camera system? Watch the latest episode of The Warehouse of the Future, a Renovotec Podcast Series. Click here for an audio-only version of this podcast.
Contact us today to book your visit to the Renovotec Innovation Centre at our UK Head Office in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside and meet our wireless network solutions specialists for retail.
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