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Innovation and emerging technologies have always driven the logistics industry forwards; improving productivity, efficiency and staff welfare at every step.
This history of adopting new technologies means the industry is now well-placed to step into the growing world of automation-centred technology like warehouse drones.
Automation – no longer a ‘nice to have’
Even in an industry that’s long embraced shifts in technology, automation has been seen by many in the industry as a luxury; a step forward, but one that doesn’t really need to be taken.
Thankfully, that attitude is changing as large-scale warehouse operations work to keep up with the exponential growth in online shopping – a growth made more pronounced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increased volume and velocity of warehouse inventory, coupled with escalating staff costs to manage that increase, has meant manual inventory operations are no longer enough – the profitability of warehouse operations is under constant strain, and autonomous drones can provide the answer.
Efficiency is another casualty of the increased workload. With more activity comes the need for more inventory checks, but scanning thousands of bin locations is both time-consuming and prone to error.
It’s not just the impact on the bottom line, either – despite increased safety measures, warehouse workers are still at risk of warehouse accidents. Being able to reduce the time staff spend in dangerous situations by introducing fully autonomous drones is another key driver in the adoption of the technology.
What can drones do for my warehousing operation?
It’s no exaggeration to say warehouse operations can be transformed with drones. Autonomous inventory counts are:
- More efficient: With a work rate in excess of 400 locations per hour; that’s more than 2000 locations per mission, inventAIRy XL is able to conduct cycle counts considerably faster than even the slickest of manual operations.
- More cost-effective: Not only does inventAIRy XL all but remove the labour cost of cycle counts, it also helps to resolve other profit-limiting issues such as poor picking productivity, inefficient put-away process and inventory shrinkage.
- More accurate: Real-time analytics and comprehensive reporting, with image proof of each rack location, help validate inventory data like never before and removes the extra staff hours wasted during audits.
- Safer for your staff: With humans taken out of the cycle counting loop, inventAIRy XL completely eliminates the risks associated with working at height and in close proximity to machinery.
What’s stopping you?
Despite the many obvious advantages to drone automation, there are understandably some obstacles stopping some warehouse operators from embracing the technology.
Lack of clarity: any new technology comes with a period of uncertainty as operators try to piece together what is and isn’t possible. Headline-grabbing use cases – like Amazon using drones to deliver packages – are what spring to mind for many when we talk about drones in warehousing operations.
As a result, operators are unaware of the actual possibilities drones offer to enhance their warehouse on a day-to-day level. Coupled with a lack of clarity around possible solutions is a lack of clarity around ROI. This is understandable – if people are unaware of the solutions, they have no way of knowing how this will impact their bottom line. Fortunately, we’ve developed a handy ROI calculator so you can see exactly how you can benefit.
The final area of uncertainty relates to the regulations surrounding drone use – we often get asked: “Do I need a licence to operate a drone indoors?”. The answer to this question is no – in the UK, the laws that regulate drone use are applicable solely to outdoor applications, where the airspace is being shared with manned aircraft. Of course, this is of no relevance to autonomous drones in a warehouse facility.
Cost: The perception around robotics and industrial automation is that, while it offers great opportunities, it comes at great expense. While this might be true in some scenarios, commercially available solutions like inventAIRy XL have brought the cost down without compromising on features or benefits. That means it can deliver an impressive ROI, fast payback periods, and high operational efficiencies at an accessible price.
Busy warehousing operations need solutions fast if they’re to solve the issues brought about by increased demand on their time. Fortunately, inventAIRy XL can be implemented easily and with very few steps. The system is designed to be deployed with minimal disruption to existing processes and warehouse infrastructure.
In summary, deploying the right technology with the right partners can bring more efficient operations, increased staff safety and provable ROI.