Distribution   |  6 min read

Leverage IoT to Digitally Transform your Warehouses, Distribution Centers and Depots

For the day to day consumer of goods, it’s easy for us to forget that warehouses, distribution centers and depots are a key link in the supply chain. Often, all we know is that we want our products to arrive at the right time, at the right place, and at the right price. Not a tall order, is it?

What we often overlook is the massive amount of complexity that exists in even the most basic supply chains that manufacture and deliver goods to either their consumers or to other industrial partners. The buffers and coordination points (or nodes) in virtually every supply chain exist in the form of warehouses, distribution centers and depots.

There are some subtle and then significant differences between those 3 types of nodes.

A warehouse, for example, is mainly used for storing products for specified time frames, while a distribution center (apart from storing products like a warehouse) offers value-added services like product mixing, order fulfillment, cross docking, kitting and packaging.

The distribution center tends to be a higher velocity or flow through environment when compared to a warehouse.

Moving on to depots, a depot will share many of the traits of a distribution center, but they also will perform additional functions such as repair of serviceable parts like cell phones or laptops, motors, pumps, etc. An example is a freight company that will service and repair vehicles in an in-house “depot” because it is cheaper and more efficient.

In many instances, depots are storage points in the supply chain that carry much larger quantities, such as an army depot that will carry large quantities of supplies and equipment as it functions as the “hub” of a spoke-and-hub distribution network, but it will also provide repair and replacement activities that the “spokes” in the network are not equipped to do.

And regardless of whether your supply chain operates warehouses, DCs, depots, or any combination of the three, there is now a significant opportunity to drive improvements in the operations of these nodes by leveraging IoT to digitize your supply chains and provide real-time visibility into the movement of your assets. By embracing the world of IoT, machine learning, new sensor capabilities with long battery lives and the now ubiquitous access to the internet, the opportunity to improve throughput and create a more error-free process is now at your fingertips. And more than ever before, the ability to deploy and digitize your supply chains and storage points can be done in a matter of days to a few weeks, not quarters to years.

So when you finally muster up the courage to embark on your own IoT journey and enable your warehouse/DC/depot operations, it is important that you take some things into consideration. Your IoT solution should:

  1. Support both legacy and new devices
  2. Have smart devices/sensors with long battery life
  3. Allow for bilateral data communications across the network
  4. Have redundant connectivity (wired, wireless and cellular)
  5. Have robust account/device management with security
  6. Contain an extensive API library for rapid integration
  7. Have intuitive analytics and reporting dashboards that can be configured to your businesses use cases
  8. Be Cloud based for scalability and portability

At Cloudleaf, we have developed an IoT solution called Sensor Fabric™ that addresses the 8 critical areas I just discussed and we are already driving value for various clients across multiple industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, large scale container leasing, automotive, steel/metals manufacturing and others.

To get a preview into Cloudleaf and the patented Sensor Fabric™ (and to discuss your own customized POC), request a Free Trial

Read the original post by Oscar on LinkedIn