Refrigerated Warehouses – an evolution through AI and IoT
A warehouse is a large storage area for storing goods. Most of the large scale autonomous companies maintain a warehouse to improve the efficiency of supply chain management. Due to the fluctuating market demand for products, the necessity for storage of goods has increased, thereby inducing the need for a warehouse. Though ordinary warehouses serve the purpose for many of the products, certain other groups of products like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, fish, pharmaceuticals etc. are required to be stored under controlled temperature. The advent of refrigerated warehouses very well satisfied the manufacturers of these temperature-sensitive products. The controlled temperature in the refrigerated warehouses aids in the easy maintenance of goods for a longer period without decaying. They are not only used for storage but also for the easy transportation of such products. With the immense growth in the online groceries, the suppliers had to reconsider the storage capacity of these cold storages which in turn questioned the potential maintenance of the supply chain management. With the help of technological advancements, the providers have met most of their expectations to date. Let us have a look at the upcoming trends of refrigerated warehousing.
Artificial intelligence in warehouses
The increase in online groceries aroused the need for larger warehouses, thereby increasing the need for more workers. To work in a frigid climate was challenging for human workers. This challenge was elucidated with the help of automation. With the inclusion of automation in refrigerated warehouses, the human workers were replaced by robots. This not only helped the workers but also the managers to overcome other challenges which were faced by the supply chain management. While automated warehouses protected human workers from harsh temperatures, productivity was also effectively maintained on the other hand. Robots take lesser time than human whereas the accuracy and efficiency are incomparable. Products wastage was another inevitable problem faced by warehouses. Technological innovation helped in easy maintenance of large warehouses. The advent of automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) aided in tripling the storage capacity of ordinary warehouses. The usage of robotics crane lifts also helped in utilizing space effectively and thereby reducing product wastage. The automation of refrigerated warehouses also addressed the issue of energy usage. The ASRS used a smaller area with more storage density which enhanced the usage of energy. Lesser the human workers also lessen the need for brighter lights and dependence on other energy consumption thereby saving energy to a greater extent.
Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized the warehouses and supply chain management systems. IoT helps to ease the warehouses’ management will less or no workers. With the advent of IoT’s, the cumulative automation of warehouse components was made possible which in turn led to smart warehouses. Smart warehouses proliferated productivity as well as the efficiency of warehouse operations by minimizing errors and the number of workers. Smart warehouses are an interconnection of several automated warehouse technologies. The entire operations of the warehouse such as production, storage, transportation etc. will be automated with minimal errors. IoT based smart warehouses benefit warehouse management in several ways:
- Minimizing management cost- since every operation of smart warehouses is managed using sensors, the requirement for workers will be reduced thereby decreasing the labour cost. IoT also ensures the optimal utilization of space as well as utilities resulting in a profit hike.
- Real-time tracking- IoT helps to track the quality and quantity of the stocked goods. Real-time tracking of shipped goods through supply chain helped in enhancing the accuracy and consumer satisfaction in e-commerce.
- Enhanced scalability – IoT helps in optimal utilization of storage spaces and to scale up space according to the need.
- Forecasting market trends – Smart warehouses could easily forecast the potential changes in market demands. The fluctuation in market demand will require warehouse modifications. IoT helps to incorporate these changes efficiently according to the market demands.
With the increase in demand for perishable goods, the need for proper storage mechanism became inevitable. The implementation of refrigerated warehouses and their sustainable operations were quite challenging in the early years. To encounter the complexity of operations of these temperature-controlled warehouses, technological support was necessary. With the aid of technology, warehouses were automated thereby providing a smoother operational environment. The boom on e-commerce markets , which served much for the economic development of countries, had an impact on the warehouse and supply chain management. Nowadays warehouses have programmed themselves to accommodate the highs and lows of the market demand and act accordingly. The entire warehouse operations are available under a fingertip now.