Logistics move fast. You have to move faster! Wi-Fi and Operator network services are not enough.
By: Mike Mulica, CEO at Alef
Our current global supply chain has never been so complex, or under as much pressure to perform as it is today. With the COVID-19 pandemic becoming a part of our daily lives and additional international crises, fulfilling the demand for goods globally has become increasingly difficult due to labor shortages, supply, and other challenges, and the need for speedy and efficient warehouses has never been more apparent. What warehouses need to implement now to keep operations running smoothly is a private mobile network. Introducing a mobility platform into warehouses will open a new class of performance, flexibility and economics relative to what’s possible with Wi-Fi or available from the traditional mobile network operator.
The demands on the supply chain are intense and increasingly the burden falls upon warehouses, as supply chain systems are implementing end-to-end workflows driven by increased demand. Traditional IT and OT networks are being put to the test as remote controlled automations, such as guided vehicles and other remotely controlled automations, are being implemented so that shipments are streamlined. These new technologies, while essential in improving warehouse efficiency, can also pose a danger if status updates and information are not shared in real-time system-wide. For instance, if an autonomous robot navigating the warehouse isn’t quickly or accurately receiving the information it requires to operate as it should, it could inadvertently collide with personnel, stock, or other (very expensive) technology.
Many warehouses today continue to rely on short-range wireless technologies and outdated hardwired systems, which can lead to interference and decreased security. Additionally, as more devices are added to the network, performance is likely to wane under the increased demand. Traditional Wi-Fi can also cause a lag in feedback, resulting in inaccurate or outdated information being shared. With a private mobile network, warehouses can strengthen their connections and eliminate any lag in shared feedback – as well as enable increased safety, productivity and operational efficiency – by utilizing ubiquitous wireless coverage to support warehouse connected devices like robots and forklifts.
Meeting Efficiency Needs:
At the end of the day, the primary focus of warehouses and distributors remains on delivering top-tier service to their customers. Traditional Wi-Fi, with its interference problems, can’t be counted on to be reliable. Warehouses need a network that provides them with low latency in order to keep up to date in real-time, allowing them to, say, accurately track inventory, enabling retailers to make more informed decisions and prevent stockouts (as well as frustrated consumers). Warehouses also require real-time analytics to speed up laborious processes such as product and pallet matching, especially as they deal with continued disruptions and delays.
In addition to the above, warehouses need a network that is flexible enough to deal with the constantly changing warehouse environment. With a private mobile network as a service, warehouses are able to remove the need for expensive on-premise solutions and the expensive footprint that they require, maximizing the efficiency of their network, and eliminating the space and time needed in order to set one up. The flexibility of the private mobile network as a service allows enterprises to set them up as needed with specifically tailored resources and capabilities. For instance, if a retailer needs to temporarily expand its warehousing capacity during an exceptionally busy time, it could go to a logistics company which could then easily and quickly provide an edge-enabled warehouse rental for a short period.
The Future of Warehousing:
Our global supply chain is constantly in flux, and the requirements to keep up with global demand change with it. As warehouses look to the future, private mobile networks as a service will serve as a solution to ensuring that warehouses are able to accommodate the increasing demand in the most efficient way possible.
Alef CEO Mike Mulica has been at the nexus of mobile communications, the internet and globally scaled industry solutions for the past three decades. Mike is a mobile and internet industry veteran, playing a foundational role in pioneering the Mobile Internet, and has led many highly successful companies and product introductions across the globe.