Beacons have been around for some time now, slowly gaining traction in the retail space. More importantly, savvy supply chain managers are now using them as a great way to save time and money. Read on to learn how beacons improve logistics. Plus, learn six specific ways organizations can profit from investing in proximity beacons.
Lost time and money are preventable issues. Wrong deliveries, underutilized trucks, and lost materials are incredibly costly. At times, mismanagement of product can lead to security or safely penalties. Is the organization at risk? Maybe it’s already suffering from these challenges?
There is vulnerability when the company is operating with a mostly paper-based system. Additional risk if outsourced resources used for operational work and stocking a inventory. If true, the company can not possess the level of control needed for optimizing a logistics program. However, many are struggling with these same issues.
Numerous companies are not organized nor automated in their outbound logistics. Warehouse operations can often seem chaotic and overwhelming. Some try upgrading systems to gain more control. In the past, this meant using such asset tracking tools like GPS, barcodes, and RFID tags. These technologies over promised and under delivered.
Past technologies gave reduced visibility to a single item flowing through a logistics network. For instance, GPS was and is a technology providing the location of a truck, train, plane, or container. Barcodes, on the other hand, is a labor-based technology and often operated at the product level. The RFID buzz wanted to declare victory over supply chain challenges. Unfortunately, the reality was much different from the hype. For example, infrastructure requirements, like gates and readers, are expensive and cumbersome to deploy. Initial costs and system compatibility are in direct opposition to the desired effects of implementing the technology.
When working with the right experts, the company learns new ways to evolve. Operations become faster, simpler, and more efficient than before. How can this be done? Firstly, automate the collection of operational data. Improve data accuracy by removing human error. Gather relevant and robust data.
For example, capture elements like date-time, resource id, and location combined with environmental factors, like temperature and motion detection. The raw data gets consumed by an application which analyzes the input in real time. The organization now has a tool providing a modern, management-friendly design that provides insight into critical areas.
RISE OF LOGISTIC BEACONS
As previously mentioned, the first step is to generate timely and accurate data. Beacons are the modern and most effective way to do that. In the past, collected data might indicate when a shipment arrived at which location. By leveraging beacon technology, the level of detail is so much better. Learn that product A got moved through docking bay at 6:00 AM, handled by forklift #ABC, driven by employee #001 in truck #005 at a temperature of 31 degrees Fahrenheit, successfully delivered to customer XYZ, and accepted by Customer Name at 1:12 PM. Moreover, information can easily get exposed via a mobile app or desktop application. Beacons fill in the missing data gaps past technology lacked.
A beacon is an independent, low-cost device. They come in a variety of forms. These include small coin cell devices, USB sticks, and USB dongles. These devices are self-powered. Additionally, they require no data plan to provide proximity services. They broadcast their presence to other nearby devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and sensors.
For data to appear in reports, a software application gets installed on a device. That device (example: a smartphone) can then approximate the distance between it and the beacon. Logistics Beacons can be tuned to broadcast various distances by adjusting power output. As the device hears the beacon, it records that it is near it. When the device leaves the area, that event may also get recorded. In basic terms, the application provides arrival and departure data. The device recording the data can add additional information or logic to trigger other actions.
Additionally, product shipments are moving through delivery networks. People and machinery are always pushing them. They ride in trucks, trains, or plane cargo holds. They arrive and depart from warehouses. Every one of these places can get tagged with logistics beacons. When coupled with a sensor in the product freight, details about the shipment and how it passed through the supply chain gets exposed in the software application. Knowing how the cargo interacted with every delivery step allows management to zero in on root causes for bottlenecks.
Traditional solutions provide a single dot on the map. Beacon-based systems effectively narrate a much broader story. Beacons cost just a few dollars and can get installed in a matter of minutes. An organization can combine this with inexpensive Bluetooth sensors and readers for many affordable options.
1. Underutilized Space
Asset tracking is a primary responsibility for the warehouse. Along with that, is the challenge of utilizing all the storage space. Despite it being important, it is tough to manage due to time limitations. By deploying beacons in the warehouse, the use of space gets optimized. Products can be stored in the correct places. Also, they are more easily found. Beacons maximize storage efficiency by turning the entire working area into a Smart Space.
2. Root Cause Analysis
Monitoring and adapting to fluctuations in supply and demand is critical to shortening delivery cycles. Now more than ever, it is necessary to collect timely and accurate information for increasing supply chain efficiency. This is best accomplished by identifying where and why problems are occurring. How much downtime does a specific forklift have? Where are package bottlenecks? What are the seasonal trends? Long and short-term studies of beacon generated data reveal the information that was previously hidden.
3. Temperature Sensitive Assets
Products like drugs, fresh foods, and other sensitive specialty items require temperature monitoring. Usually, employees manually check the numbers. This always increases the potential for error. If temperature guidelines get missed, financial and possibly legal risks can occur. Let a beacon based observation system automate the process.
4. Security and Theft
Ongoing product loss due to theft is unacceptable. Management has enough other problems to handle already. Confidence that all product is secure should never get taken for granted. If left unchecked, it can quickly become a significant expense for an organization. Smart Spaces mitigate this threat by entry monitoring and control. If there is suspicious movement of high-value items, alarms can be triggered real-time. Adding this additional layer of security is the theft deterrence management wants.
5. Labor Management
As operations grow and become more complex, managing a mixed employment force also becomes more complex. Dealing with part-timers, temp staff, and employee turnover suggests attaining optimal labor productivity as a tricky job. The solution is workforce labor tracking using beacons. This will allow supervisors to objectively measure employee performance, set baseline work goals, and have real-time visibility.
6. Maintenance Schedule
Maintenance is an essential part of operations. It’s a normal cost of business. Yet, there are many inefficient maintenance practices. Often, there isn’t a full understanding about the wear on assets. Also, many ignore resources until they no longer work. As such, businesses can have unexpected expenses or unnecessary downtime. A more strategic approach would be to use beacon monitoring for planning a maintenance schedule. Trying to predict maintenance needs without good data is similar to guessing. When the logistics department starts tracking assets, maintenance plans generate value.
Why use beacons as part of logistics?
The Benefits of Beacons:
Logistics is complex and demanding. By putting a beacon based program in place, management is much better equipped to improve logistics performance. Gain control over resources while saving money. Get recognition as an innovative competitor.