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Four Ways the Internet of Things (IoT) is Revolutionizing Fulfillment Automation

“Like any company that blissfully ignored the Internet at the turn of the century, the ones that dismiss the Internet of Things risk getting left behind.” —Fast Company

Internet of Things (IOT) technology is transforming ways in which automation systems are installed, maintained — and the way customers can tap-in to maximize their value. Whether you are evaluating more automation for your fulfillment operation or DC, or have already made a recent investment – be sure to understand and leverage the value to help reduce costs, increase throughput, and better understand your business.

  1. Commissioning times are being slashed.

To generate value, today’s systems typically contain a wide variety of technologies – labeling, conveyors, scales, machine vision, dimensioners, and others.  But implementing these systems no longer requires an onsite army of specific experts.  Now, the commissioning technicians can be supported virtually: Developers, Scanner Experts, Controls Engineers, Scale Technicians, for example.  The customer gets the benefit of multiple resources all working in parallel with reduced travel expense.  An individual team member can be tapped briefly and fluidly for specific knowledge.  All of this combines to help you get your system up quicker and at a lower cost.

  1. Intermittent Problems are solved quickly.

Ever had a car with a problem that seemed to hide while at the dealer?  Me too!!  In our industry, it’s the bug that disappears when we are watching onsite or remotely. StreamTech creates virtual ‘robots’ that monitor input and communications data to flush out and resolve those once-in-while problems.  This may take the form of a machine vision system monitoring label placement or a process that looks for intermittent communication losses.  Either way, it’s a lot more fun and cheaper than waiting and watching.

  1. Systems maintaining themselves.

As customer requirements become more demanding, we continue to add clever ways to save customer maintenance and operational resources.   The proliferating number of sensors means that the systems can self-diagnose to save resources:

  • Labelers request more labels; turn themselves off while their siblings pick up the load.
  • Areas of the system are de-energized automatically when not in use
  • Electrical and compressed air utilities are monitored and system compensates or stops when parameters are out of bounds.
  • Auto-request of print heads when scan rates start to decline
  • The system asks for a routine check of a drive roller with higher than normal current.
  • Smart Exception Management – identifying if it’s a random event, or indicative of a sudden problem

 

  1. Rich data streams are available and readily mined for insight.

StreamTech monitors and displays a wide variety of statistical and operational data for consumption through our standard and customized reports.  Reviewing this data provides insight into both the system’s health and how your business operates. This data can be promulgated to your senior managers’ desks through via remote StreamTech workstations, or capture of the data into your in-house systems.  Studying this data can allow you to extend the life of your system by optimizing its peak periods and how to best operate the system for maximum throughput and efficiency.

 

Order Fulfillment IoT Takeaways:

Purchase Evaluation How does the proposed system include connectivity that can be leveraged to reduce cost and increase functionality?  What’s available as a standard?
Implementation Maintenance and users understand how to leverage intelligence in the system to reduce downtime, anticipate service.
Operational / Ongoing Ensure system generated data conveniently available and summarized so it can be promulgated and re-purposed.  Management engagement and use in planning.