Today’s supply chains are more complex than ever and the organizations that are part of them are highly codependent on each other. Each link is essential for the healthy flow of the sourcing process and must be strengthened to become resilient in times of booming e-commerce and on-demand economy. After years of experience helping companies automate, I can say that the best way to achieve this joint strength is through technology. And if I could give a tip to a company that is starting its digitalization right now, it would be to prioritize distribution centers and gain benefits throughout the chain.
I am not alone in this position. Retailers across the country, of different sizes, are strengthening their warehouse and distribution center operations with technological solutions that provide teams with the information and tools they need to react quickly to unforeseen events, avoiding delays and ensuring the normal flow of the operation.
Working side by side with companies that are moving to become more competitive, I share with you the solutions applied behind the scenes – in the warehouses – that have brought the most results and are responsible for fast e-commerce deliveries and store shelves always floods:
Loading and unloading operations based on predictive analytics
State-of-the-art solutions leverage predictive analytics to optimize a retailer’s loading and unloading operations. Making a parallel between historical behavior and the current demands and availability of resources, the technology helps to optimize the execution of loading and unloading tasks, identifying when and where to allocate labor, for example. A more efficient management of operations contributes to teams that always know what the next task to be performed is.
Inventory visibility with scanners and RFID for fast fulfillment and loss reduction
Logistics operations do not start and end at the loading and unloading docks. Once pallets are unloaded, forklift drivers need to know immediately where to take them. They must also be able to scan pallets as a whole or individual packages, counting items quickly and efficiently, proofing human errors. Technologies such as industrial stationary scanners, smart vision cameras and radio frequency identification (RFID) make all this possible and even improve the accuracy of tasks and records, allowing the process to be monitored by all links in the operation, including the consumer. This is how you can monitor the progress of your order, from payment approval to your doorstep.
Cold chain operations at the right temperature with tracking technologies
An optimized supply chain is even more critical when it comes to a cold chain. Products such as food, flowers and medicines require specific and constant temperatures during transit. Tracking technologies including RFID, barcode systems and temperature sensors can help monitor truck or container cargo, ensuring optimal weather is maintained, with location and temperature information being recorded and shared across the entire supply chain. supplies. In the last year, the temperature control solution has been used around the world to ensure that vaccines against Covid-19 reach the population in perfect condition.
More organized chains with automation
Logistics is a complex orchestration of constantly moving steps. What happens on receipt impacts the entire operation, including picking, packaging, product inspection, shipping and shelf display. Investing in greater automation in data capture, task coordination and tracking processes can help warehouse and distribution center operators identify and address pain points before they affect the entire system. Again, this is possible through simple, versatile devices such as mobile computers, scanners and printers, and through state-of-the-art software that interacts with the company’s other systems.
Retail faces a critical choice: keep things as they are and fight the impact of unforeseen events and delays, or implement new technologies that can improve workflows and ensure top-notch order and inventory management. As much as the entire operation of e-commerces and stores is moving towards automation, it is in warehouses and distribution centers that companies’ investments in technology have the most impact and become benefits for the entire operation and for the consumer.
Vanderlei Ferreira, Vice-President Zebra Technologies Brazil