Choosing the Best Technologies for Warehouse Optimization

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12 Apr 2017
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8 min
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Vitaly K.
Copywriter

To tell you the truth, I'm not a very neat person. Honestly. Sometimes I can't even find my own phone on the table. Keeping things organised is not easy, especially in a production warehouse. Not easy and not cheap. Warehouse optimization has to reduce expenses and increase the efficiency. Food, drinks and pharmaceutical chemicals - are the niches which demand new technologies the most.

In this article, we'll find out which technologies are needed to develop a highly-efficient application, the existing solutions and all business requirements your future warehouse application has to meet.

What are the best warehouse technologies

To start with, let's dig deeper and consider what modern technologies would accommodate the different needs of this type of business and why.

QR and barcodes

The ability of an application to scan a QR or barcodes can significantly simplify some vital processes during a warehouse audit. For example, this technology keeps a record of the important information such as equipment breakage history. The technology uses a camera to take a photo of a barcode. Then the computer analyzes the image. The IOS 7 operational system has an inboard barcode scanner in API. You can use it with the help of AVFoundation framework. It is because AVFoundation can read metadata. All you need to do is to choose what type of data you need and AVFoundation will do the rest automatically.

This technology is used by Wal-Mart. They use drones which can scan bar and QR codes for stores operation procedure. The drone flies above the distribution centre and scans hundreds of codes on maritime containers. By doing this, the drone gets information about the type of cargo and its origin. A manual check would take months, while a drone can collect all the information within a few hours. As you can see above, a warehouse app with this technology can bring weighty results to your business.

RFID

RFID is a technology, which uses electronic tags for data storage. The same as barcodes, RFID can identify elements. However, unlike barcodes, RFID tags don't require a close proximity and direct vision for scanning.

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GPS technology

GPS technology or any other types of trackers can be used to track staff, and the condition of the equipment. As well as for navigation around the warehouse. These all can significantly cut time for such tasks as breakage detection and time to find needed items. The GPS systems can optimise the load and delivery routes. The last step is focused on the improvement of the relationships with clients, when you or a client will be able to track the position of a particular item sent.

Voice technology

Voice technology empowers vocal options. The workers wear earphones connected to their phones and receive instructions where to go and what to do from the warehouse applications. The workers can confirm the information using the microphone on their headsets.

Another warehouse technology is the usage of robots for some routine tasks, such as sorting, packaging and shipping, because they help to accelerate operating processes.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage in an application development gives an opportunity to cut expenses and is an effective way to store a large amount of data.

It is worth mentioning that the majority of warehouses use tablets for activity management. It's connected with reports preparation and information supply, which can be uncomfortable on a mobile version. So, when you are developing your IOS or Android inventory app, consider the aptitude of a tablet version, where additional features can be included.

Warehouse inventory management software

A warehouse can be optimized with warehouse inventory software. Moreover, the majority of such programs already have mobile inventory apps for IPhone and Android, which allow users to advance the inventory adjustment and planning processes. Here are a few examples of the most successful warehouse inventory management software, which you can use as a specimen for your future product:

Each has its peculiarities and unique features, so let's look at them a little bit closer:

Dock Door Scheduling Software

provides automatically assigned planning, full-cycle deliveries, ordering and tracking of shipments, priority sequence, and resources and efficiency management. These features cut shipping charges and make the whole process more predictable and transparent.

A Smart Warehouse management system

improves the efficiency of the distribution centres, workforce productivity, visibility, customers' service accuracy and provides a reduction in expenditures for the distribution and inventory control.

A Visual Warehouse

is a multifunctional system for warehouse management, which allows you to control all inventory, from the cargo receipts to the shipments.

Enterprise Resource Planning System

(ERP) with the warehouse management system (WMS) module. It is an open source system, which can be easily integrated with your CRM or customize it for your needs.

Warehouse on demand

when you register for the site Flexe, you can see all available storage facilities near you. More than that, the operators can advertise free space for those who need it. There is even a nickname for the service - inventory Airbnb.

Existing types of warehouse mobile apps

Apart from the existing software for warehouse optimizations, there are lots of various mobile warehouse apps. We sorted all these applications out according to their purpose and determined the following types:

#1 Mobile Apps for Warehouse Managers - this type of application can be used by all staff. Usually, such apps include barcodes scanners, inventorying and pricelist management, along with order management statistics, daily and monthly statistical reporting and a live prices update. Typically, the app offers different languages too.

#2 Inventory Management, Control and Tracking Apps - here we can list the warehouse applications which are mostly used by managers. The apps are packed with all the needed tools for supervision and gathering data. They also track load movements and allow users to control all processes.

#3 Barcode Scanner and Inventory Apps - the main feature is barcode scanning. In an inventory app for iPhone and Android, data can be exported to reports.The programs scan the barcodes in such a way that the inventory can be monitored from several places. And has options to change languages and currency. The apps can also work in the off-line mode.

#4 Asset tracking apps - these applications are for asset management based on the cloud computing, which you can scale in accordance with the size of your business. Here you can easily monitor every asset in your business. Among other features are position tracking, arrival/departure registration, ability to send reminders and get an access to the driver's documentation.

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Lots of variations can be used in your business, you can use existing solutions, or you can mix the functionality and technologies to satisfy your needs.

How to build a warehouse app

If after a few hours (perhaps even days) of research and trials you've decided to develop a custom web app or a mobile app, you need to think over some crucial steps to make sure the final product will fit your requirements perfectly. To do that you need to set very clear requirements for your business:

  • The number of users - building a warehouse app, you need to calculate the approximate number of people, who will have access to your warehouse application. The other question is will there be any levels of access, and if there will be, how many levels do you need and how will people get this access?
  • Inventory capacity - this step will define the complexity of your inventory application. In this particular case, you need to think ahead about the long-range requirements of your business.
  • Type of inventory - it will not only influence, but define the set of technologies you would need to include in your future project. For instance, if the temperature and freshness control matters to you, then you would definitely need the tracking feature to estimate the time of delivery.
  • Budget - the more advanced system you want for your warehouse management system software the more it will cost. Nevertheless, this investment can dramatically impact on the expenses and income of your enterprise.
  • Devices - this step is crucial because it's better when all staff use the same phones or tablets. Though, you can easily rely on the phones of your employees. However, should think of the inventory app for Android and IOS platforms, so all employees can use it.

After you have formed your needs, you can think of the functions needed in your application. This way you can understand which technologies should be applied for the project and which ones would be unnecessary.

Advantages of an Inventory app development

It is strange, however, a few years ago we weren't allowed to use our phones at work. Now, we see how all the modern mobile technologies help us to benefit, optimize and automate all the processes we spent countless hours on before. A mobile phone is not only a way to connect workers, but also a powerful tool to advance your business on every level.

And one of the first advantages of warehouse application building, what you would gain, is an efficiency improvement. With the automatization of the operating cycle, you would save a lot of man-hours because all organization issues which would be performed by the computer.

With all of this, we can also talk about the business intelligence advancement. In simple terms, you exclude the human element along with the possibility of human fault.

If you add parcel tracking into the app for the clients, you can increase sales. The more comfortable your service is, the more clients you will receive. Nowadays, a client's loyalty is one of the most important aims in the modern business world. And with your own application, it would be really easy to accomplish.

Moreover, the technologies allow you to get real-time reports, and this fact can dramatically speed up cargo shipping and dispatching. On top of that, you have all reports in hands instead of drawing up a report by yourself.

Accelerating all operations, you increase the productivity of your warehouse. Now, workers don't have to spend hours sorting all packages manually. With the help of bar and QR code scanners they can do it within a few minutes.

Of course, contemplating about the advantages of warehouse automatization, we prioritize the cost-effectiveness of our enterprise. Replacing manual workers with robots, like in the case of the drones, that fl over the containers and scans barcodes, you can save up to 60 percent of your income.

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Find out how to estimate your project and how we do it in our article

The question of modernization and the advancement of the working enterprise is always hard. On one hand - you need to invest a lot of money in the development, teach your workers to use this system, and possibly rebuild your warehouse to adjust it to the new technologies. On the other hand, modern software and mobile applications are intended to keep your inventory up to date, save your money and make the work easier. If you decided that your warehouse needs a breath of fresh air, contact us and we will provide you with the finest solution for your business.

Warehouse Optimization: Choosing the Best Technologies

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