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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Smart Warehouses

 Effective management and delivery.

Delivering Smart Warehouses

By Jake Widman, Commissioned by CACM Staff, January 4, 2022

Recent trends have presented major challenges to warehouses and distribution centers. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Commerce, the e-commerce share of retail sales has risen from 10.5% at the beginning of 2019 to 13% this past quarter, with a spike to 15.7% in Q2 2020. That increase has put pressure on those facilities to increase efficiency and speed.

At the same time, the warehouse sector has been wrestling with a labor shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job vacancies in the U.S. warehousing and storage sector reached or exceeded 5% of the total number of jobs in the sector throughout 2021, representing some 75,000 jobs unfilled.

There are differences between warehouses and distribution centers: the former are used for longer-term storage and inventory building, while the latter are better suited to high-velocity, quick-turnaround operations. The bottom-line need for both is knowing where their stuff is, where it needs to go, and how to get it there.

"At a basic level, it's asset tracking," says Srini Samudrala, senior vice president for Digital and Internet of Things for Zyter, a Rockville, MD-based company that describes itself as a "digital health and IoT-enablement platform." Says Samudrala, "If you think about it, about 70% of all use-cases in the IoT world are around tracking the location of something."

Both kinds of facilities are addressing the challenges of such tracking through increased use of "smart" technologies such as machine vision, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, along with autonomous and supervised robotics. According to market research firm ABI Research, over 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses by 2025, a significant increase from the 4,000 robotic warehouses the company tracked in 2018.  ... '

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