Think about all the moving parts that make up the manufacturing environment (no I'm just talking about machines). How connected is each piece of the system to each other? If something breaks down how quickly can you get things back up and running? How accurate is your inventory and do you know where everything is from one step to the next? Are you having trouble forecasting production and revenue? These are just some of the questions manufacturing leaders have to answer, and still to this day many don't know where to start.
With new wireless network technologies and advances in intelligent networking a new industrial revolution has started, called industry 4.0 which basically connects the digital world with the physical world.
This new revolution has opened the door to some amazing possibilities in efficiency, production, communications and collaboration to name a few.
Whether you like it or not the traditional industrial landscape is changing. Depending on what type of warehouse or manufacturing business your in you've probably already started to see new wireless driven "smart" technology being implemented.
For example, "sensor-enabled" machines, automated inventory control systems and at the bare minimum RF guns and barcode scanning (although this has been around for quite some time now).
Manufacturing has always been about the survival of the fittest, in other words who can increase productivity and efficiency while driving down costs.
With most of the benefits going to early adopters and those that recognize the potential opportunities, we decided to outline 5 of the "smartest" warehouse wifi trends you should be considering today.
1. Perfecting Automation Through The Internet of Things
Smart warehouses used to be something that was always right around the corner; something future generations would enjoy. But with growing IoT technologies and converged networks integrating the physical world with your business systems, implementing meaningful changes to your business doesn't have to be a thing of the future.
The biggest challenge for traditional warehouses was keeping track of all the moving parts. Human error opened up the industry to vulnerabilities. It was also difficult to keep up with maintenance and services, which means a lot of downtime and as well all know, time is money, especially in manufacturing.
IoT helps alleviate these issues by providing real-time visibility and automation through big data analytics and seamless collaboration across your entire network. IoT has the ability to intelligently connect your business, providing actionable insights that can increase productivity and efficiency.
Suggested Reading - "9 Common Warehouse Wifi Problems and What You Can Do to Fix Them"
2. Empowering Logistics Via Next Shoring
Rapid wage increases in previously ideal “Off-Shoring” locations such as the Far East and South East Asia, as well as higher shipping costs, have made the cost-effectiveness of outsourcing overseas moot.
This has prompted manufacturers to build and produce closer to where goods would be sold, enabling them to circumvent transportation expenses and taxes, accelerate store shelve replenishment, and save resources by moving inventory faster.
Next-Shoring allows you to sidestep the risks and costs that come with distance management, varying international regulations, global supply chain disruption, and the bid to support the demand for quicker speeds to market.
This tactic frees up significant costs, which you can reallocate for R&D, technology improvements, or any other areas of your business.
3. Enhancing Customer Relations With SMAC Stack
“SMAC stack” in manufacturing uses social media, mobile technology, big data, and cloud technology to connect with customers where they spend most of their time, in turn enhancing the customer experience while increasing productivity.
Social – Social media is great way for manufacturers to trade useful information. This form of collaboration brings great minds together, sharing ideas that can have real-world applications.
Mobility – The proliferation of mobile devices make this an ideal avenue for fast and efficient communication throughout the production flow, allowing for timely resolution of issues and problems. This can also be used to engage customers to discuss services and products.
Analytics – The concept of SMAC is about collecting useful information. Data can be analyzed to gain insights on how your customers use products, enabling you to make better informed decisions.
Cloud – Taking you data and processes to the cloud make them conveniently accessible to those who need it, both anytime and anywhere.
4. Driving Down Costs With Virtual Reality in Manufacturing
Virtual reality inside manufacturing enables you to create and test ideas without the need to run actual practice tests. This helps drive down materials and production costs through simulated processes and 3D models.
Testing can also be done virtually through comparative data analysis.
Since everything is done virtually, there are no physical components, which means reduced equipment costs, labor expenses, and a smaller environmental impact.
5. Improvements Across-The-Board Through Capital Investment
Since the dot-com stock bubble, we’ve seen a painfully slow economic recovery, which means capital spending, expansion, and growth have been lagging as well.
This has tremendous impact not only on manufacturing but also on the entire business landscape. Less investment funding translates to slower productivity and improvement rates.
However, new innovations have stirred manufacturing activity recently, with the focus mainly on advanced technology, warehouse updates through advanced industrial wireless networks and intelligent networking as well as new "sensor-enabled" smart-machinery.
Suggested Reading: "3 Reasons Long-Range Wi-Fi Creates Warehouse WiFi Issues"
Manufacturing and warehouse companies are taking advantage of the very lucrative industry 4.0 landscape. The collective goal is make the "Smart Warehouse" the new standard.
However, the success of this strategy will depend highly on your warehouse wireless network infrastructure, as this will be the foundation upon which your success will built on.
The last thing you need is a crappy wireless network struggling to support your shiny new smart technology based strategies.
If you have any questions about designing and deploying a reliable warehouse wireless network for your “Smart Warehouse” goals or would like to chat about how industry 4.0 can impact your business, simply contact us here.