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How technology can improve your warehouse

by Charlie Buelow | Tue, Sep 4, 2018

Technology has shaped our lives, personally and professionally. By bringing connected equipment into an industrial facility, you can bring sustainable value to your workplace and make the working environment safer as well as more efficient.

Makes facilities safer

Employee safety is a top concern for facility managers, which leads to the adoption of devices that can reduce the risk of injury. Digital controls, for example, remove some of the physical burdens that workers would face with manually operated equipment. They also lower the chances of an incorrect manual action, which could lead to injury.

Think about manual versus digitally controlled dock levelers or lifts. When this important piece of equipment can be activated at the push of a button, workers aren't near mechanisms that could catch their fingers or toes. And with digital controls, there's no risk of workers accidentally using the wrong pull-chain to deploy the leveler or the lift and putting themselves in harm's way.

Another technology that makes facilities safer is automated retrieval systems. When robotics and conveyors pick up and transport items through a warehouse, workers avoid injuring themselves while lifting heavy or cumbersome items.

When choosing or implementing new systems to a warehouse, facility managers and employees alike need to continually evaluate these additions. Paying close attention to the benefits as well as shortcomings or complications of the technology will give them a good idea of which areas need improvement or reimagining, Material Handling and Logistics suggested. How will the ergonomic factors of your workplace change because of this new solution? Will that create problems in the future or disrupt other operations?

Provides greater insight into warehouse operations

System components like automatic identification and warehouse management systems are relatively recent developments, but the industry has been working toward them for half a decade.

"Nothing we're doing today, even artificial intelligence, belies what we thought we could do more than 40 years ago," John Hill, a director at logistics and supply chain company St. Onge, said to Logistics Management. "It's just that we didn't have the tools then that we have today."

Connected warehouse equipment can serve to keep better track of each item in a warehouse, distribution center or manufacturing facility. Sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) tools, as well as Wi-Fi enabled devices, can show where items are within the building at all times. These not only lead to more efficient processes; they also help to identify and remedy holdups quicker. 

Assists in planning necessary maintenance

Maintenance is one of the most critical ingredients to a productive facility. When equipment fails, operations can be held up for hours, days or even longer. Unexpected equipment failure can be avoided if equipment is regularly inspected and problems are resolved before they lead to downtime.

Technologically advanced equipment helps plan maintenance as needed by alerting managers to emerging issues. Additionally, data recorded by equipment demonstrates how it's performing; changes in performance can clue managers into possible problems. Further, data imported directly from the items themselves not only saves time for operators and technicians, but also reduces the chances of inaccurate data entry.

Adopting new technology used in warehouses and other facilities can help to improve operations. The equipment experts at NMS can determine the additions that your operations need the most, and a dedicated NMS on-site technician will oversee and maintain the new equipment to ensure your company gets the most from it.

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