Smart Logistics: digital logistics for the new supply chain era
The adjective ‘smart’ is now used in all areas of technology to denote a lean, elegant and above all ‘intelligent’ system.
In this short article we want to talk about “smart logistics”. But what is smart logistics? It is ‘smart logistics’, i.e. the set of technological solutions that enable the improvement of all activities, both operational and strategic in the management, storage and destination of goods.
Industrial logistics is a part of the supply chain and considers the infrastructure, equipment, resources and operational strategies for managing the flow of products and related information.
Smart technologies for logistics 4.0 can be used at various points in the logistics process, from entry to exit: from demand forecasting through warehouse management to storage and transport management processes.
In this document we will discuss some examples that Sygest proposes for its customers.
The QenteR case: a smart logisitcs application for enabling site access
As a first case we introduce QenteR, an application to manage the registration of visitors entering a plant. It is based on an App with the reading of a QRCode that can also enable or disable access to the site.
This smart logistics solution can be applied in those sectors where there are transports to be managed to a production site or a warehouse (with incoming or outgoing material) that need to reserve a loading or unloading slot. The system makes it possible to send the transporter an ‘invitation’ with a certain predefined time. The invitation is a QR Code containing the data of the transporter and the access slot, which is read at the entrance of the site and enables or disables the opening of the access bar depending on availability, after checking that the slot is correct. Through the App the haulier can also check the availability of access before arriving at the site in order to take the right time.
The application of IUNGO: e-procurement system for an intelligent warehouse
Still speaking of incoming materials, there is a very interesting application within IUNGO, an e-procurement system, whereby the labelling of parts is carried out by the supplier prior to delivery and when the material arrives, the incoming goods are directly recorded in the management system, thus taking work away from the warehouse operators. IUNGO manages the data exchange between customer and supplier via e-mail (customer orders, quotation requests, …) and allows the supplier to automatically print the labels and prepare a digital ‘prebill’ of the shipment, which is then captured by the management system.
For smarter logistics, the labels we are talking about could be of the RF-ID UHF type.
With this technology, we can speak of a smart warehouse because it allows us to detect the exact stock of components by simply reading a warehouse area with wireless terminals or antennas. In the same way, a similar system checks the exit of material to verify the correctness of the shipment.
Photo Packing List: the digital logistics application for the entire supply chain
“Last but not least” the photographic packing list is the application of Industry 4.0 and logistics that extends the concept of shipping to include not only the last steps within the plant, but also all other external entities involved: from suppliers, to customers, to customs in a fully digitised way with linkage to photos of the individual components being shipped. By reading a QRCode on the packaging, placed at the packing stage, the contents are made visible.
The logistics 4.0 application was born to speed up customs operations by making photos and information on the shipped parts available, without having to open the packaging, but it was soon realised that its further implications ranged from the control of the shipment (it cannot be closed if something is missing), to the involvement of suppliers in the operations, and finally to the end customer who can already have visible all the contents he will receive when the packaging is closed.
There are also many other situations that relate to efficient digital logistics: for example based on the collection and processing of large volumes of data to understand the relationship between production and demand, to assess the safety of personnel, the state of the product on delivery (after transfer times), delivery times, … .
The IoT is the technology that today allows data to be collected in the field, bringing them to computing and data analysis platforms based on machine learning.
In conclusion, smart logistics intervenes both on operational aspects to reduce errors and inefficiencies and increase flexibility, but also and above all, thanks to the huge amount of data available, in the strategic decision support phase.