Inventory automation includes software and technology that manages warehouse inventory in real time with minimal effort and error. It ensures smoother performance of supply chain business processes by automating deliveries of customer orders; satisfaction of the inventory request; track and manage real-time data important to warehouse operations; increased efficiency and increased return on investment. Automated inventory management systems are not just trendy features but are seen as a constant necessity for businesses that want to successfully survive today amid tough competition that threatens every hour.
Gartner stipulate that 91% of companies are going digital today, 87% of senior management representatives are focused on the need for digitalization and 51% of successful digital transformation cases are driven by market needs and necessities rather than internal company wishes. ‘company. Cloud computing and AI, robotic or IoT technologies, easy access to on-demand warehousing techniques, modernized tracking operations in real-time mode remove the challenges of manual inventory management and speed up the operation of the warehouse. entire supply chain.
According to FinanceOnline.com (a popular reviewer of financial products), data analytics, IoT and cloud computing are the three most popular automation technologies to address future inventory challenges in 2023.
Types of Automated Inventory Management Systems for Productivity Optimization
AGVs and AMRs
AGVs or Automated Guided Vehicles are software vehicles that perform tasks in warehouses and other types of logistics centers as a replacement for forklifts, conveyor systems or hand trucks by traveling along pre-established paths through the use of radio waves, cameras , magnets or lasers. AGVs and AMRs (mobile robots) help warehouse operators collect products from bridges and pallets and help save space.
While AGVs have been around for a long time, AMRS are newer. With minimal on-board intelligence, AGVs need the help of wires, magnetic tapes and sensors and have restricted movements as they have to follow these fixed routes, requiring additional costs and disruptions to bring changes in the future. AMRs are the new group of “collaborative robots” using intelligent sensors and therefore do not depend on any fixed route to move or navigate. They can also collaborate with a human worker to complete tasks.
AI-powered inventory management systems identify large volumes of data, facilitate improved decision-making, reduce costs, eliminate risk, optimize warehouse functions for increased productivity.
One of their main roles is mining data and converting it into profitable solutions. By monitoring, gathering, recording and processing each customer’s data and interests, AI helps companies better understand their customers and they can better plan their strategies taking into account customer needs and stock products accordingly. AI can also streamline deliveries and transportation by using complex algorithms to calculate delivery time more accurately by considering historical and real-time data and finding optimal routes to ensure orders arrive in time. delays.
According to available statistics, around 45.1% of companies in 2020 invested in warehouse automation and 40.1% invested in AI solutions.
IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Nvidia, tencet, Alphabet are the major players who have leveraged the benefits of AI.
This technology allows all computer data to be securely stored in one place and accessible from anywhere, allowing decision makers to respond quickly and resolve inventory issues. The multiple benefits of cloud-based solutions over on-premises applications include lower costs incurred as there is no hardware involved, faster implementation, regularly updated software, and security and resiliency. increased. From an inventory management perspective, data centralization enables a GPS tracking project where one can track the movement of pallets, containers, delivery vehicles in real time to confirm when and how items reach their final destination.
Cloud-based inventory management software can integrate with accounting and order management and help track inventory down to SKU or barcode, whether items are held in warehouses or in transit . The best inventory management software is not only cloud-enabled, but it is mostly or entirely cloud-based.
IoT (Internet of Things) for smart warehouse operations
IoT is the digital transformation of data management and tracking that has revolutionized every step of the entire supply chain management process. It makes inventory and supply management faster, more efficient and more precise. Ali Baba, DHL, Amazon are already deploying IoT-enabled software for inventory optimization. AI-powered devices collect information from different sources and analyze the data to improve warehouse operations. They have the potential to automate entire warehouse management operations.
Businesses are installing IoT sensors to monitor the movement and use of hardware inside their premises. These sensors transmit real-time inventory information to the cloud and help end customers have accurate real-time information about an item’s availability and expected product delivery dates.
RFID Tags – Best Example of IoT Application in Inventory Management
Radio Frequency Identification or RFID are advanced 5G wireless data transmission technologies that support efficient and automated data collection and micro-tracking of inventory management processes. The special attribute of RFID tags is that they can highlight which crucial parcel of the shipment needs to be opened first at the point of delivery, besides of course helping to provide accurate information about the location, the traffic, the exact arrival time of the package.
Manthan – Moving Forward on the Back of AI-Powered Inventory Solutions
Manthan’s Merchandise Analytics solution automates purchasing, inventory planning, pricing and promotion. It helps in customer-centric assortment planning that personalizes the assortment based on the preferred sales channels used by customers. Key assortment metrics such as sales growth, gross margin, and inventory turns are optimized through new product allocation and introduction. It also helps with demand forecasting, trend and sentiment analysis, and achieving a profitable localized merchandise mix. The system works in real time to suggest products to retailers to remove, keep, replace or substitute, in addition to selecting products to markdown with ideal markdown rates, percentage, and expected sales uplift. It further helps in deciding an optimal price for each product across all channels.
Future-ready retail needs data-driven decision-making, as well as agility and flexibility in execution. Technology solutions like AI and IoT-based software are helping brands increase sales 2-3x by increasing accountability, minimizing human error, and charting real-time data and analytics. The aforementioned new era warehousing solutions enable businesses to excel in this hyper-competitive environment with an effective balance of pressure on retail margins.