"Sensors in Distribution: On the Cusp of New Performance Efficiencies"
The digital economy is strong with e-commerce accelerating at a better than 10 percent annual clip.1 That shift in buyer behavior draws attention to consumer technologies like smart phones and mobile commerce, but when it comes to fulfilling all those orders for the goods that connected consumers are snapping up, distribution centers (DCs) are where the demands of the digital world run up against the realities of the physical world of order picking, packing, and getting goods out on time.
In short, to flourish in the digital economy, companies need to stay abreast of the latest technologies for data capture, condition monitoring, and inventory and asset positioning that allow physical order fulfillment processes to keep pace with customer expectations.
The world of DC operations, however, is a practical, cost-conscious environment. Concepts such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and IoT-connected sensors need to carry a bottom-line payoff, either through curbing costs on factors like energy, or improving throughput. While analyst forecasts about billions of Internet connected devices are impressive, the real question is what can be done with all the data being churned out by sensors and other “things,” and how can new, Internet-connected forms of data capture mesh with existing forms of data collection to improve processes?