When pundits discuss the Internet of Things (IoT), they often end up talking about the importance of Big Data analytics. Sensors generate tremendous volumes of data. How will all this data be analyzed? But when I look at the different sensor based systems generating data in a warehouse, I’m beginning to think the bigger challenge may be execution, not Big Data analysis. Most well run warehouses have a Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) that depends upon bar code data. Warehouse floor level operations personnel and warehouse managers execute their tasks based upon this data. Some warehouses also have extensive amounts of material handling equipment and will use Warehouse Control Systems (WCS). Equipment can have sensors that provide diagnostics on how well the equipment is running, and if not running well, what the problem is. Maintenance personnel depend upon this data. Finally, some warehouses also have Building Automation Systems (BAS). These systems control lighting; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), and security and facility access control. Facility and security managers are the primary users of this sensor/actuator data. Suppliers for each one of these systems – WMS, WCS, and BAS – have built dashboards that do a good job of keeping their primary users informed on the key events they need to know about. But, in the age of IoT there is an increased ability to share key pieces of data across these traditional silos to solve difficult problems. For example, imagine a warehouse that has ambient, chilled, and frozen sections. Imagine that some of the customers that get goods from this warehouse want assurances that the goods they receive have been kept within a prescribed temperature range. They don’t want the goods if the temperature has gone outside a prescribed temperature range. There are temperature sensors that can be embedded […]
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