AI Snowballs through All Areas of Retail – How You Can Make the Most of It

Artificial Intelligence, more fondly referred to as AI, is moving into its predicted “early adopter” phase this year. Industry resources like Supply Chain Management, Wired, Cyzerg and Archer Point, have been talking about the progression of AI for several years. Retail analysts predicted 2020-21 to be the actual breakthrough of AI into the mainstream early adopters. The International Federation of Robotics says that 422,000 robots were installed in 2018 – up from prior year. They also expect an average growth of 12 percent for all robots between 2020 and 2022.

It looks like these futurists were right on target. AI is growing in acceptance and experts predict that we should expect to see more AI applications in warehousing this year. Amazon has already pioneered the technology throughout its warehousing system. They are moving 10 million products within a 24-hour period, and they know what works to get those packages shipped. By using AI, they are able to calculate the most efficient way to get the package to the customer’s location in the least amount of time.

Other warehouses see applications for AI in improving warehouse safety. With statistics showing that Injuries happen at a rate of 5.1 per 100 workers, AI can be applied to lower these statistics. By analyzing the data gathered within the sites, AI can provide the necessary information to foresee accidents or potential hazards for workers. AI can also help detect warehouse deviations that could cause disruptions in the flow of work at the warehouse. If the data is used properly, these disruptions can be solved prior to having any effects on the system.

It’s all about the data and its use. Most of us don’t consider ourselves early adopters. If you’re watching this technology carefully and planning for its impact on your warehouse, you may want to start preparing now with the right materials to ensure your success in the future. What do we mean by that?

  • Inventory management – make sure your inventory systems are up-to-date and your storage fixtures are the best ones to meet your shipping and storage needs.
  • Inventory selection – If you don’t have a shelving and storage system like a cantilever rack or an easy-access pallet rack, consider getting one installed now.
  • Look at the big picture of your warehouse now and in the future with a mezzanine from which you can see a bird’s-eye view. This observation of the warehouse from above will give you a clearer picture of just how efficient your warehouse fixturing is. You’ll be able to see the forklift units and their pathways, the employee movement and any obstacles, as well as potential warehouse safety hazards.
  • If you already have access to data, keep collecting it and work with an artificial intelligence professional to make the data work for your personal warehouse. You could increase the efficiency of your warehouse, as well as the storage capacity.
  • Use any data you’ve gathered to make changes in your base line storage. From your metal shelving to your automatic inventory management, you’ll save yourself time and money and be prepared when the AI lifecycle curve heads toward you!
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