Industry 4.0 Is Heading to the Warehouse. Are You Ready?
Industry 4.0 will revolutionize and protect your warehouse and therefore your entire business. It will allow you to understand what is happening in real-time and know that any necessary changes will take place in real-time.
Eight out of 10 warehouses are still manually operated. And yes — this statistic is indeed surprising. Given the exceptional technological advances we’ve seen in recent years in the automation world, the material handling sector is obviously taking some time to catch up! However, given that Industry 4.0 is revolutionizing the sector, that is all changing.
If we take a look at the previous industrial revolutions, we can further understand the magnitude of potential change possible and the significance that comes with Industry 4.0. The first industrial revolution was driven by mechanization — the ability to use machines to do work. The second was the implementation of the assembly line and was sparked by Henry Ford’s desire to mass-produce an entire automobile.
The third was automation and computerization, which has so far entirely transformed the ease with which we carry out daily tasks not only in industry, but from within our homes, too.
All three revolutions have been the catalyst for major improvements in productivity. Now, with the unique convergence of five major disruptors, we are entering the age of Industry 4.0.
This all means computer intelligence is spreading and allowing more devices to connect and communicate, meaning more big data. Of course, this perfectly fits the needs of a warehouse. In a warehouse, SKUs (stock keeping units) communicate with machines, machines connect to and communicate with other machines and then, in turn, these connect and communicate with ERP devices and warehouse management systems.
This mini ecosystem in itself drives the distribution operations for your warehouse. It can respond to any updates in the task sheet and the robotics involved can reconfigure themselves to react in real-time without involving human “colleagues.” These technologies are not only more reliable and more cost-effective than ever before, but they’re also more widely available for a range of applications. This means warehouses can incorporate them, thereby automating their operations and reducing the logistics industry’s dependence on labor.
America’s industry output is 85 percent greater than in 1987, meaning automation of every part of a product’s lifecycle is imperative. Warehouses experience issues with labor — especially during the busier seasons. Labor remains limited and the competition for this decreasing employee pool is high, particularly when trends are moving people away from manufacturing and supply chain work.
Therefore, Industry 4.0 will provide a much-needed solution for this productivity hindrance through system-integrated and intelligent, collaborative robots who are able to work next to humans in a warehouse.
Industry 4.0 will revolutionize and protect your warehouse and therefore your entire business. It will allow you to understand what is happening in real-time and know that any necessary changes will take place in real-time by an efficient, intelligent, reliable and accurate integrated system. You will also be able to glean other insights from your data that can help predict the future needs of the business from a logistics perspective and further protect your company from productivity challenges such as labor shortages.