Technology is driving businesses toward an era of greater visibility and automation of operations. Warehouse management solution has become an important component of enterprises, and it is a process of planning, organization, control and coordination for an enterprise to make full use of its storage resources and provide efficient warehousing services. As a link between producers and consumers, it plays a vital role in the whole logistics and economic activities.
The simple and static traditional warehouse management mode currently is unable to adapt to the new warehouse management solution needs due to its low material turnover efficiency, high labor costs, backward logistics management information means and other shortcomings. Major enterprises play an active role in exploring new information management technologies to build new warehouse management systems. This article will explain what Bluetooth beacons are and how beacon technology helps enhance the warehouse management solution.
What are Bluetooth beacons
Bluetooth beacon is a hardware device based on the Bluetooth Low Energy broadcast protocol, which is compatible with the iBeacon protocol or Eddystone. As a BLE device, Bluetooth beacon is usually installed in a specific location in the room as a reference point for the indoor location. It is not connected to any host device, but broadcasts continuously and periodically to the surrounding environment, requiring only scanning and parsing by the host device.
The potential application of beacon technology has broad prospects: For example, Bluetooth beacons in museums can push the information of each exhibition to visiting smartphone users, who will be notified within a certain distance of the exhibition. Even lost wilderness explorers can benefit from Bluetooth beacons, which allow people to get information about the most convenient route home through beacons installed on roadside trees. The wide application of Bluetooth beacons, just like magic, greatly narrows the application space of traditional manual brushing bar codes or QR codes, thus facilitating people’s production and life.
Why beacon technology best suits the smart warehouse management solution
The positioning principle adopted is based on Bluetooth active positioning mode, and a positioning error of 1~3 meters can be achieved under ideal circumstances. Typically, Beacons involved in positioning have the characteristics of small size and long battery life. On the basis of accurate positioning, the cost of a beacon warehouse management solution is only a fraction or even a tenth of the traditional one compared with UWB and RFID solutions.
The main purpose of indoor positioning is not only for navigation, but also for the location management of personnel, equipment and materials. Relatively speaking, it is difficult to ensure the stability of WiFi positioning signals, which cannot satisfy the requirements of accurate positioning. With UWB technology, centimeter-level positioning can be achieved, but the cost is high. Bluetooth beacon comes with its advantages in small size, high performance and price ratio under the same precision. Besides, Bluetooth is less affected by the surrounding environment, and its power consumption is relatively low, all of which make Bluetooth positioning technology the most widely used technology in indoor positioning systems.
How does beacons work in warehouses
Beacons can be everywhere in warehouses, including trailers, forklifts, shelves and even a loading dock bay, which can broadcast information to various smart devices within a certain distance. When the equipment is close to the beacon, it tracks what is nearby and when the equipment leaves that area, while the Bluetooth beacon records these events and pushes real-time information to the warehouse professionals.
Different beacons are adopted to measure attributes associated with the operation of warehouse such as location, temperature, humidity, and movement. After the gateway collects the data from different beacons, all the information is forwarded to the cloud where the data will be stored and analyzed, and then streamlines to actionable insights. These insights can then be used by automated equipment to orchestrate various actions of a warehouse in real-time. To be precise, beacons in warehouses offer a unique opportunity for fundamental changes in the day-to-day operations of logistics.
Exploring beacon technology in warehouse management solution
As an essential link in any supply chain, warehouse facilitates the storage of goods until they are dispatched to their place of use. Beacon technology offers pretty much benefits in boosting and refining warehouse management systems. The following section will discuss some of the applications of beacon technology in the connected smart warehouse ecosystem.
Enhancing asset real-time tracking
Beacon positioning technology can realize real-time dynamic tracking and management of large quantities and varieties of materials in warehousing and logistics. To a certain extent, not only the process of entering warehouse, out of warehouse, moving, storage, and finding inventory is becoming more intelligent, but also the circulation speed of materials and supplies has been improved. Problems such as chaotic inventory, inaccurate quantity, wrong picking-up materials, etc. can be avoided, and early warning will be notified for abnormal situations such as damaged products or poor transportation.
Tracking of temperature and humidity
Different types of storage materials require different storage environments, so it is critical to obtain comprehensive and accurate data on environmental parameters for storage environments in different locations. For example, fresh and pharmaceutical products have stringent requirements for the storage environment, vegetables and fruits require low temperature while maintaining a certain humidity, and some drugs need low-temperature dry storage. Temperature＆Humidity sensor beacons provide you with instant environment changes of the sensitive items.
Efficient warehouse equipment use
A large quantity of equipment and devices can get involved in the operation process of warehouse loading and unloading, such as storage shelves, internal carts, hoisting tools, forklifts, and transport tracks. The utilization of different tools depend on the associated warehousing assets, process operations, and spatial locations. Especially for logistics warehouses with large storage and circulation volume, the overall management of equipment is of great significance for a smart warehouse. With beacon tracking technology, misalignment is prevented by intelligent deployment and reasonable path planning, so as to improve the utilization efficiency of warehouse equipment.
Boosting workforce productivity and safety
Mostly, personnel operations in warehouse logistics areas span different functional partitions of different warehouses or involve varied locations within the same area. With beacon tracking tags attached to the badges of warehouse staff, information of the personnel is continuously recorded and reported, improving the accuracy of real-time scheduling, operation area management, and early warning of warehouse staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic, beacons can also help to maintain a safe distance between the warehouse workers, and they’ll be informed if secured assets are not properly handled.
Improving warehouse space utilization
With beacons tracking the input and output of inventory, it’s possible to make the utmost use of warehouse space. Sometimes, you may forget some extra space when managing the loading and unloading stocks. By deploying Bluetooth beacons around the warehouse, you’re accessible to get instant visibility of the available space and then take full advantage of it. Moreover, beacon tracking tags of each storage shelf allow you to make sure the assets are stored where they should be.
Available technologies for smart warehouse management solution
Despite Beacon technology improving the speed and accuracy of operations in smart warehouse, there are still many technologies that are available for automated warehouse solutions. It’s difficult to preview what the future holds for smart warehouses, we’re sure all these warehouse automation technologies are working towards a smarter warehouse. Below will show some of the possible technologies applied in smart warehouses management solutions.
Long gone are the days of repeatable and error-riddled manual handling and picking, robotics come as crucial technology that helps perform manual processes and simplify operations in warehouse. Warehouses investing in robotics see many tangible and visible benefits. Expenses such as cutting costs and increasing efficiency are obvious results, and there are still many other benefits such as better customer satisfaction, and better employee engagement. In all, robots take over repetitive tasks from humans and optimize operation of warehouse to be more consistent, efficient, and accurate.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
AGVs refers to self-guided transport vehicles capable of following a specific guidance path. There’s no better way to improve the automation processes in the warehouse than embrace AGVs. Though the structural integrity of automated guided vehicles is evolving, models that have existed on the market for a period of time proved to be safer than manual labor and generate a faster return on investment.
Warehouse Management Systems(WMS)
Warehouse management system is an information management system that is comprehensively applied in warehousing business, outbound business, material correspondence, quality inspection management, and real-time inventory management, etc. WMS controls and tracks the logistics and cost management of the warehouse business to achieve perfect warehouse information management. The system can not only independently perform logistics warehousing inventory operations, but also realize the intelligent integration of logistics warehousing and enterprise operation, production, procurement and sales.
Why choose MOKOBlue smart beacons
MOKOBlue is a Bluetooth device development company, building end-to-end beacon solutions for different sectors. The deployment of MOKOBlue beacons not only helps to provide greater visibility in logistics and inventory, but also allows for better quality maintenance of environmentally sensitive products. If you want to customize your IoT projects with Bluetooth beacons, modules, and gateways, please communicate with our expert.