Internet of Things and Materials Handling
The ever-increasing speeds with which we can access the Internet and the proliferation of mobile devices are allowing devices to become more connected and interact with each other in ways we’ve never seen before.
With this ongoing trend towards ultimate connectivity a new phrase has been spreading through the business world: ‘The Internet of Things (IoT)’.
IoT will enable devices to interact with each other without the need for human involvement whilst still producing timely accurate data. This blog post will explore how IoT has been implemented into the materials handling industry and the benefits it has provided.
Reporting and Storage of Telemetry Data
IoT can be implemented to collect telemetry data from material handling vehicles and fleets. Our ForkTrack fleet management and safety system relies on internet connectivity to record and report data from strategically placed electronic sensors on vehicles. The different types of sensors can include:
- Impact detection
- Seatbelt and Handbrake interlocks
- Operator ID controls
IoT enables the data collected to be seamlessly reported online and viewed by managers in real-time. Data is also able to be stored for use at a later date.
Vehicle Maintenance and Fleet Management
As well as monitoring safety the ForkTrack system is an industry leading fleet management system which also benefits from IoT integration. ForkTrack is able to monitor vital engine and battery signs such as:
- Critical coolant levels
- Coolant temperatures
- Oil pressure
- Oil temperatures
- Transmission temperature conditions
Without IoT connectivity ForkTrack would not be able to report in real-time any problems with vital signs on the unit. It also enables maintenance and/or repairs to be scheduled in a timely manner to avoid extended periods of unit downtime impacting a business’s operations.
Another significant feature of the ForkTrack system that relies on IoT connectivity is its ability to automatically control speed zones within a premises. These speed zones when implemented automatically control the speed a vehicle can travel within an specific area, which is particularly useful along shared pathways that both individuals and vehicles operate.
The speed zones are programmed and implanted via sensors installed into an area of a site and they communicate with sensors installed on the vehicle so ForkTrack knows what maximum speed the vehicle is allowed to travel.
Inventory Management/Order Picking
IoT integration has had a large positive impact on inventory management and order picking. It allows stock levels to be monitored in real-time, making inventory management in high volume businesses more efficient.
As stock levels are monitored in real-time, new helpful features can be implemented such as automatic reordering where more stock is ordered automatically when live stock levels reach a certain level, meaning stock will never fully run out.
IoT has also helped order picking as when an order is being picked, live item locations and stock levels can be sent to handheld devices and updated in real-time to show progress. It also allows staff to document any problems with orders and can show alternative stock locations or replacement products when they are available.
This blog has mentioned some of the many uses of IoT integration in the materials handling industry. As internet availability and speeds increase further in the future IoT will continue to have a large influence on the whole industry.
For further information on the ForkTrack Safety and Fleet Management System please click here.
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