Drones and 5G: Building the Warehouses of the Future
With the global shift to online shopping growing exponentially, the focus on improving inventory management for time and resource efficiency has grown. As these industries face labor shortage and global competition, they are increasingly turning to the technology innovation and automation. Drone and 5G services have made their way into warehouse management, pushing the boundaries of efficiency and actionable inventory intelligence, and featuring prominently in the future of warehouse and supply chain.
Drones and 5G
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) which can be used for military, scientific and various commercial applications. Drone technology is dependent on a wide range of technologies such as power storage, wireless communication, sensory systems, and artificial intelligence (AI). Modern drones maybe required to travel longer distances and operate in an environment in the presence of many other drones. These drones are driven by AI algorithms to avoid other objects, recognize other drones, and to identify landing spaces.
These AI-based technologies rely on cloud computing and a stable internet connection. While 4G networks do offer good upload and download speeds, they are not equipped to handle thousands of devices while supporting high speed downloads and low latency. This is where 5G steps in. As compared to the 4G network, the new 5G network standard offers higher data traffic capability, faster transmission speed, lower latency, and support for a larger number of devices with decreased interference. The universal popularity of the 5G drones has been steadily increasing and it is no surprise that it is projected to grow from 17.8 USD in 2019 to 46.4 USD in 2025.
Digital Transformation of Warehouses
Drones are revolutionizing a large number of industries today. The innovative uses of drones in warehouses and supply chain logistics include:
- Accelerating inventory stock taking
- Drone scan
- Managing intralogistics
- Improving worker safety
- Carrying out inspection and surveillance
- Improving accuracy by eliminating human error
- Reducing human labor costs on repetitive tasks
- Accelerating Inventory Counting
Manual inventory management requires staff members to physically scan every label within the warehouse. This procedure is very time-consuming and resource-intensive. Whereas drones can scan tags 50 times faster than their human counterparts thereby accelerating the entire process.
Scheduling stocktaking and inventory maintenance can even be performed at night,
which means reducing aisle closures and maximizing uptime.
- Drone Scan
The drone scanning system provides a revolutionary robotic solution to scanning products and pallets in warehouses. InfoVision’s own drone scan technology is GPS-independent, hence can be used in remote warehouses, and comes with custom-built drones outfitted with inventory intelligence software. Not only does it enable greater supply chain visibility and intelligence, but it also offers a simple web-based user interface to control all functionality.
- Managing Intralogistics
Drones can transport parts from warehouses to workshops in factories. The ability of drones to follow predefined flight paths and carry items show good potential for indoor environments too such as warehouses. Some drone scan technologies, including our drone scan, are equipped with collision avoidance technologies that are crucial while carrying fragile items.
- Improving Worker Safety
With humans out of the loop since drones have taken over several hazardous duties such as working at heights or in close proximity to forklifts during stock taking, inventory movement and so on, worker safety risks are drastically reduced. Drones can reach the most inaccessible locations in a warehouse with ease.
- Carrying out Inspection and Surveillance
Drones are a viable alternative to replace manual inspection and surveillance operations in warehouses. Drones can inspect roofs, racks, pallet placements, walls and ceilings. Indoor inspection tasks require skilled inspectors and sometimes work is interrupted due to difficulty to access certain areas. Drones can easily monitor and inspect in dangerous, high altitude areas. Video, image, and barcode data collection can all be used to arrive at the final inspection results. Drone missions for perimeter security also help to keep real estate and assets secure. Losses due to theft on the premises and within warehouses can be controlled with drones helping monitor the warehouse and its surrounding areas.
- Improving Accuracy
Accuracy is the key to maintaining the competitive edge in ecommerce. It involves maintaining accurate levels of inventory, scanning front-facing barcodes on deep pallets stored in racks across hundreds of square feet and so on. By improving inventory accuracy using drones, warehouse stakeholders can free up valuable capital locked up in buffer stock especially during peak seasons.
- Reducing Labor Cost for Repetitive Tasks
In this era of accelerated ecommerce, inventory counting and maintenance must happen at higher frequencies. Previously thousands of man hours were spent on inventory management at warehouses. This is repetitive, expensive, extremely time consuming and not error free. Moreover, these activities need to be performed on a daily basis. Today the digital transformation of warehouses has moved the performance of all these tasks to drones. Taking away these repetitive tasks from employees also has a positive impact on employee satisfaction, apart from saving cost.
Building Warehouses of the Future
The pace of adoption of drones in warehouses is paving the way for a smarter future for warehouse and supply chain management. The business benefits from drones are significant and immediate, given low capital expenditure and infrastructure investments.
Drones and 5G are now building the warehouses of the future. Better utilization of space, reducing production downtime, reducing labor turnover and downtime, improving health and safety, increasing warehouse flexibility and increasing productivity outputs are all areas positively impacted with the use of drone technology.
Looking to deploy drones and 5G services to your warehouse? Get in touch with our supply chain and logistics experts today!