We believe that Gartner’s Hype Cycle for supply chain execution technologies reveals cutting-edge insights and trends for upcoming, innovative approaches in logistics and digital warehousing.

With this blog article series, we provide you guidance through the jungle of technical innovations in logistics based on the Gartner Hype Cycle, market research and our experiences. The first article took a closer at Warehouse Picking (Humanoid) Robots. This article provides insights about another core innovation:  warehouse resource planning and scheduling.

How Gartner understands Warehouse Resource Planning and Scheduling

While warehouse picking (humanoid) robots are very tangible, warehouse resource planning and scheduling is a pure software innovation. The main concept is the application of predictive constraint-based planning and optimization of warehousing tasks. While manufacturing plants have been using these techniques for more than 30 years, warehouses mainly allocate tasks using rudimentary principles like task interleaving and wave planning.

A miniscule number of vendors offers forward-planning capabilities (such as labor and equipment planning) in their warehouse management system (WMS) solutions. As market factors drive the need for increased efficiency and labor costs lead to a high demand for expanded competencies, vendors are required to keep pace with the growing demand by including more advanced methods that consider resources, planning and constraints. Current market solutions we believe are described by Gartner as early-stage developments that are suitable for early adopters but will mature over time and will be used by a wider audience.

Results from Market Research

During our market research, we identified two main differences in the application of AI in WMS for predictive restricted resource allocation and optimization. The first approach is used to integrate AI into an overall WMS, while the second approach offers an individual add-on to the existing WMS. An example of an add-on is shown in the picture below:

Overview of the RedPilot Add-on Modules by RedPilot[1]

There is a wide variation in how AI is used in these WMSs. In some cases, predictive analysis can identify incoming regularities and the system reacts accordingly. In other cases, predictive analysis can consider and forecast external factors (e.g. transportation delays or return probabilities) to reduce their negative input and increase capabilities for, e.g., capacity utilization, batching or overall resource allocation. There are also other use cases: dynamic allocation of roles, pro-active prioritization, route optimization for forklift or other modes of transport and process optimization through camera or data input.

How CAMELOT rates this trend

Warehouse resource allocation and scheduling can lead to desired efficiency and provide predictions for upcoming events. However, our research confirms Gartner´s assessment that the available solutions are still at an early stage. The application of AI in WMS for resource management will shift operative and middle management from reacting to irregularities to acting: For example, by sending a picker to the packing area because picking outpaces packing. Additionally, the focus will shift from controlling and observation towards the latter.

Complex warehouses are recommended to consider the use cases as the first.  However, all warehouse types and fields can include warehouse resource allocation and scheduling software in their digital warehouse target vision. The use of AI in WMS can improve not only resource allocation and process optimization, but also incident prediction. To apply this innovation, a clean database in combination with solid master data management is required.

Conclusion

Gartner’s research has identified some areas which are likely to be productive in up to ten years’ time. These innovations are likely to help organizations with the definition of a suitable target vision. In general, you will either need to align your processes, business, and IT strategy accordingly to take advantage of the innovations described by Gartner. However, the described innovations also needs human acceptance. The benefit can highly outweigh the risk by leading to increased efficiency, optimization of processes and resource utilization, or reduced costs. CAMELOT provides you with insights, experience, and guidance on how and whether you can apply these innovations.

In addition to the innovations identified by Gartner you can enrich your impression of possibilities in digital warehousing with Camelot´s market research on AI in warehousing. If you want to know more about additional ai-driven innovations or the integration of innovative technologies into your digital warehouse future vision, contact us.

Gartner, Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Execution Technologies, 2020, Dwight Klappich, 7 July 2020

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

[1] https://www.redpilot.at/operational-excellence-optimise-logistics-performance/

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