Logistics and Warehouse Problems + How Beacons Solve Them
There’s no shortage of problems and pain points in the supply chain. From raw material to last-mile, the increasing demand for speed and optimization is causing many managers headaches. Bluetooth beacons are already making a difference to several businesses.
Here’s how beacons can solve some of the most common problems in the supply chain.
Pallets, containers, lids, and the like are a common tool in the supply chain. They’re constantly moving and changing hands. The result? One common and awful warehouse problem: a lot of lost resources. Deloitte, as cited in DHL Supply Chain Insights, had several findings on the topic:
- “The cost of replacing “lost” reusable packaging and pallets in the North American auto industry is around $750 million per year.”
- The U.S. Postal Service loses about 20% of its pallets annually
- The automotive sector loses 15-20% of its pallets and lids annually
Solution: pallet tracking (read more about Bluetooth in pallet tracking here). By tracking the movement of pallets either with disposable or long-lasting tags, owners can know when and where pallets go missing. This can even be paired with automated messages or other actions in order to take human error out of the equation completely.
Storage is another crucial part of warehousing. However, despite being important, it’s also very difficult to manage. Instead of storing in the most practical space, businesses are left storing predefined places that don’t always make sense. Bluetooth offers the chance to better track assets, meaning they can be stored wherever is practical–and easily found when needed.
- Only 30% of warehouse space is optimized for efficiency.” Georgia Tech
Solution: asset tracking and navigation (read more on asset tracking here). Bluetooth tags make a warehouse digital and smart. That means, workers and managers can find packages with ease no matter where they’ve been placed. Whether these packages are stored with other customers’ goods or in an unusual back corner, they’ll be found. That means storing packages wherever it’s practical.
Supply chain management has been a crucial part of business operations for decades. After years of business as usual, businesses are finally able to recognize and quantify poor business practices. Exactly how much time is spent on which forklift? Where are packages spending the most time? These are questions that need exact answers.
- 63% of supply chain companies using big data analytics in their operations shortened order-to-delivery cycle times and 59% increased supply chain efficiency by 10%. Accenture
Solution: data generation and analysis. Where are errors occurring? This is one logistics and warehouse problem nearly every manager will face. Long and short-term studies of your operations can reveal data points you wouldn’t possibly know otherwise.
No amount of meetings and reviews can make up for poor oversight. By tracking assets, operators can find bottlenecks wasting time and inefficiencies using up resources. Most importantly, this isn’t just a matter of a few hundred dollars wasted on inefficiency. One study from PWC suggests that 10% to 30% increase in efficiency in the EU logistics sector could power €100-300 billion in cost savings for European industry.
Solution: asset tracking (read more on asset tracking here). Where are your assets when you need? Simply attaching Bluetooth tags to equipment or employees can support a powerful asset tracking system that gives operators complete oversight of what’s happening.
Pharmaceuticals, foods, and other sensitive assets require proper temperature tracking. This is a relatively simple problem that can lead to unnecessarily complicated solutions. Employees must manually check numbers or regularly move sensors, adding only more chances for error. Bluetooth beacons with sensors are now stepping in to automate the process.
- “Between 2010 and 2014, delivery volumes of fresh foods (e.g., refrigerated foods, specialty items) rose by 40% and continued growth is expected in the coming years. (Oliver Wyman)
- “By 2018, global sales of biopharma cold-chain products are expected to increase annually by 13%.” (DHL Logistics Trend Radar)
Solution: end-to-end cold chain (read more on cold chain here). Handling sensitive goods requires careful monitoring not just for legal but financial reasons. When your temperature-sensitive assets go bad, that could hundreds or hundreds of thousands of dollars right out the door. That’s why cost-effective and easy-to-use Bluetooth tags are now being used to track and verify temperatures of items transported via the cold chain.
Simply losing a large number of assets to theft should be unacceptable. There are already enough problems in the supply chain, and operators should be confident that their assets are being cared for.
- Warehouse burglaries are the highest-value incidents because of the volume of product in one location. Average warehouse theft incidents is valued at $3.8 million. (Freight Watch International)
Solution: entry access control. Supply chain managers often keep many expensive eggs in one warehouse basket. Now Bluetooth beacons or tags can be used to automate access control. That means an added layer of security and also the chance the trigger new kinds of alarms should assets be moved outside of set parameters.As operations grow and become more complex, managing workers also becomes more complex. According to one report, the importance of managing an efficient logistics workforce is now more important for 68% of operations (68%) Fortunately, tracking with beacons and Bluetooth tags makes this easier and more automated than ever before.
- 57% of interviewed operators named increasing workforce productivity as their toughest challenge (Labor Strategies in the Warehouse Report)
- “Survey responses suggest that LMS solutions yield significant benefits:
- 1. Ability to objectively measure associate performance (72 %)
- 2. Reduction in labor costs (57%)
- 3. Visibility over performance throughout the day (50 %)
- 4. The capacity to monitor progress against a production plan (50 %)”
(Labor Strategies in the Warehouse Report)
Solution: people tracking (read more on employee tracking here). Keeping track of employee movements is one thing. Making sure an entire labor force is optimized is another. By tracking their general movements, Bluetooth can help operators know when and how their workers move, leading to greater efficiency and performance.
Maintenance is important. It’s a regular and recurring cost of business. However, there are numerous inefficiencies in the way businesses manage this. By not fully understanding the wear on assets, operators will find themselves wasting time with unplanned or unnecessary maintenance.
- “In 2016, in the US alone, the cost of maintenance related delays for airlines was well over $0.5B. Almost a third of total delay time is due to unplanned maintenance.” (PWC report)
- By triggering specific maintenance operations only when they are actually needed, predictive maintenance helps optimize maintenance planning and allocation of capacity (such as teams and workshops), which in the airline industry alone could reduce maintenance labor costs by 5-10% (Oliver Wyman report)
- The predictive maintenance market size is estimated to grow from USD 1,404.3 Million in 2016 to USD 4,904.0 Million by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.4% during the forecast period. (Markets and Markets)
Solution: Sensor data for better predictive maintenance. Predicting maintenance needs isn’t always an exact science. By tracking assets, operators can better visualize wear and tear and know when maintenance should be scheduled for optimum efficiency.
Want to discover more Bluetooth use cases in the Supply Chain? Make sure to check out our complete guide.