How to digitalize the supply chain with the help of Internet of Things

My last text had an apocalyptic prediction that there won’t be any more work in logistics. I have received quite many responses to that article, some have even mentioned that I was suggesting and predicting the employers that they might have to let go of their people. We must look the truth in its eye and follow the changes in our surroundings and make sure that we adjust early enough or even use the changes to our advantage.

What must the directors and heads of logistics and warehouses do, so they won’t have to “close the stores”?

Times for the heads of logistics are not easy. A lot of things are happening, inventions are limited and consumers demand more and more while the opportunities are scarce. What should they do? What should they take care of?

  1. Recognize the trends

Currently the hottest trends are in the Internet of Things, RFID, automatization of process and exchange of information with partners. Follow the events, go abroad and visit fairs, talk to your suppliers of your logistic technology. Talk also with your suppliers and costumers and engage the external collaborators.

Concretely I would suggest you to visit Logimat fair from 14th to 16th of March in Stuttgart http://www.logimat-messe.de/en. You can talk to us if you are interested in joint visits. Talk with Aleš Habič.

  1. Automatic item identification

Your next activity will surely be connected to the automatic identification of items, orders and parcels in every area of your supply process. At the entrance, at every transfer of the item, at its delivery and at every changing of its location. You must make sure that everything is well documented and all the changes are forwarded to the control system. Surely the identification must be done with as little work and as little setbacks. It must be done automatically. Ideally for that are RFID and barcodes. The reading of the barcode must not take more than a tenth of a second

and reading of the RFID must happen simultaneously while driving without stopping the fork-lift.

Concretely those kinds of systems are being used today by Slovenian Post, who has equipped all its transport carts with active RFID badges and is tracking the location of its carts in their main three logistics center, all in real time. In that way they can manage efficiently with the cars and know, where they are and where they are headed to. Tracking of the location happens automatically without human contact.

  1. Process optimization

Process optimization is a task of every employee, especially those in the leading positions. There needs to be done as much progress and value with as little effort, resources people and machine possible. There needs to be an information system that manages even the littlest parts of the process. You must track the micro location of the items in the warehouse, shelf life of every item, location of every fork-life and employee. Information system must organize work in such a way that the most work has to be done in one transfer. When the warehouse employee goes to their warehouse, he must do as much work as possible in just one visit. When you are dealing with tasks that tend to repeat quite often every second is vital.

Concretely this could be seen with project of the implementation of voice-guided task at the Gorenje repair shop warehouse. Similar system is also being used by Ledo in Croatia. With our voice-guiding solution we have saved time that insted could be used to prepare the parcel at the warehouse. If we had saved 2 minutes of our time at each parcel prepared and the warehouse made around 50.000 parcels a year, we have basically saved the input of one employee.

  1. Adjustment to the suppliers

The costumer is the king who always appreciates a well done service. He is willing to pay for it, regardless of what he is saying.

We must offer costumers regular information of all the items and parcels he is ordering. More information that the costumer is given more he will trust us. Of course we must not forget about the standardization, so we don’t create an interface for each customer individually. Let’s use the GS1 logistics label and GS1 EPC Gen 2 RFID badge.

Concretely, I suggest you the implementation of RIP – EDI system for exchange of the information with your partners. Exchange as much information as possible, not just those that are urgent.

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Being part of the Spica management team for more than 15 years, Andrej Planina is considered a leading regional expert in the field of business mobile solutions and technologies for automatic identification. He obtained extensive knowledge working as a project manager for major organizations in the region. Well aware of the business aspects in information processes, Andrej is the author of some of Spica’s successful products. An award-winner for the best innovation for the "Intelligent safety control system“, he is regularly invited to share his knowledge as the lecturer at the University of Ljubljana (Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Faculty of Economics). When not working for Špica, he is a passionate wine taster and blogger. Find out more at https://vinskezgodbe.wordpress.com/