Published Tuesday 24th September 2019

Over the last few years, technology has revolutionised the supply chain process and created new standards for efficiency. In an increasingly competitive market, even the smallest gains in service quality and speed can have a sizeable positive effect on the company’s outlook.

One such technological advancement that is increasingly prevalent in warehouse management is that of big data. Countless businesses across a range of industries are using data to transform their processes. However, in the logistics sectors, many are still not using it to its full potential. When combined with other emerging technologies, particularly the Internet of Things (IoT), big data can revolutionise the distribution process from beginning to end.

Maximising Warehouse Information for Maximum Performance

Big data itself is nothing new, and every large business should be utilising it in some form. However, warehouse and logistics partners are traditionally slower than other sectors in implementing new technologies. Recent studies suggest only 60% of such businesses are using warehouse management software, despite its prevalence in modern business management. As the amount of technology that is used throughout warehouses increases, so does big data’s potential, making its role even more critical.

The benefits of big data for businesses are almost as limitless as the technology from which it is harvested. One of the most common uses for it is employee productivity, but it can also make existing automated procedures work more smoothly. By analysing in detail the movements of packages through the warehouse (with the help of technologies such as RFID), common inefficiencies can be quickly ironed out. By discovering the reasons behind any drops in warehouse productivity, businesses can improve the quality of their procedures and, furthermore, reduce warehouse management costs.

The Pitfalls of Big Data in Business

However, as big data’s advantages increase, so does its risks. One of the most significant risks with big data is GDPR, and the need to ensure it is complied with at all stages. Often, this is seen as one of the biggest hurdles to big data optimisation, as companies are uncertain of their responsibilities, particularly with internal data.

Whilst GDPR must always be followed, that should not become a barrier to big data utilisation. Many industry experts suggest that warehouse managers should adopt big data for one business process at a time, slowly building over time.

Utilising Internet of Things to Maximise Data

As mentioned above, the many advantages highlight the importance of big data for all warehouse and logistics providers. However, when combined with other technologies, big data can create even more opportunities throughout the supply chain. The Internet of Things is a more emergent technology but, combined with big data, can drastically improve service performance.

In its simplest form, IoT refers to the ability for devices to share information in real-time. In practice, this could allow delivery drivers to know when and where they should be to create the most efficient delivery schedule. This schedule can also be updated seamlessly at a moment’s notice. Updates could occur due to a change of circumstances for the receiver or issues at the distribution centre – IoT allows such updates to happen quickly and more effectively than ever before.

Many distribution companies are already using these technologies to provide real-time updates to delivery schedules for their clients. The example above shows how quickly the Internet of Things, when utilised with big data, can improve customer satisfaction and supply chain efficiency. Ultimately, the effective implementation of such technologies can lead to significant savings in warehouse and logistics management.

Here at Expense Reduction Analysts, we work with major UK companies to help them reduce distribution costs through effective supply chain management. Our specialist teams can look in-depth at your current processes and uncover opportunities for long-term procurement savings in areas such as couriers, pallet networks, mailing services and much more. If you’re interested in discovering what our expert team could save your business, why not get in contact with us today?