Warehouse Management Using Drones and ERP

Warehouse Management Using Drones and ERP

Warehouse and inventory management has entered the new era of systemisation and transformation. Traditional approaches to warehouse management are falling behind the latest modern, more productive solutions in order to meet emerging business needs. This results in faster and safer process management, lower costs and better performance.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things, augmented reality and robots can help to increase warehouse performance and substitute people in unsafe, difficult or time-consuming tasks.

The need for inventory accuracy, up-to-date demand and supply data, secure facilities and full safety of employees are driving companies to adopt new digital technologies – from QR codes, electronic data interchange, radio-frequency identification, which helps to identify and track objects autonomously, to machine learning used in autonomous robots, pick-and-place robots, computer vision etc.

Deploying the integration of drones and ERP systems helps to ensure real-time control. Cloud ERP used for inventory management combined with cloud-connected drones and API-based integration make it easy to use fully autonomous drone fleets in the company operations.

Warehouses management processes include internal transportation, fast detection of empty and full slots, space optimisation, surveillance, roof inspection, inventory management, etc.

Most of those processes are laborious, time-consuming and risky. The occurrence of mistakes in any of these processes causes lost money, inaccurate predictions of supplies, and most importantly, human loss, harmed employees and death from accidents. Accidents can occur any time and in any of the every-day operations like inventory counting, manual monitoring of the area, working with heavy or dangerous goods, manual inspection of any warehouse damages.

Artificial intelligence used in warehouse automation facilitated unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). The ability of drones to fly autonomously without GPS inside the warehouse, land in dedicated places, operate simultaneously in concert with other drones, and be managed remotely by personnel, open new horizons for warehouse operations management.

Warehouse Drone Automation Benefits:

  • Reduced human errors and risks in counting products
  • Improved inventory audit
  • Safe roof damages inspection
  • Higher work productivity
  • Enhanced safety of employees
  • Improved accuracy of inventory recognition and location
  • Better accessibility of remote or narrow areas
  • Faster stock and item search

Access to real-time data and fast sharing of information between company departments can be granted via a cloud ERP system. But the manual data collection process still remains the bottleneck of effective information management and hence – fast and correct decision-making. The success of ERP performance in warehouse and inventory management depends a lot on efficient, safe, relatively cost-effective and reliable methods of information collection.

Replacing all possible manual processes with drone technology can significantly improve real-time communication between employees, optimise productivity, increase profitability and outstanding competition. Supply chain operations inevitably cause inventory management problems. Companies which are able to forecast better, to shift safety stock levels faster, as well as process orders with less time and effort,  are those who can’t be left without clients or income.

Warehouse Suitable For Use Of Drones:

  • Products can be stored in pallet-racks
  • Products can be stored at the pallet or carton level
  • Products can be stored one-deep
  • Products have barcodes

The fast-growing e-commerce sector, omnichannel sales, high demanding customers and a labor shortage are adding to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers more and more problems, which can destroy a business if operational volumes increase.

Human-driven errors are very common in processes which are based on repetitive manual routine tasks, and simple implementation of warehouse management is not enough anymore. More and more companies are selecting autonomous robots to solve inventory management and tracking problems, performing repetitive or dangerous tasks.  

How To Deliver a Successful In Drone Deployment For Warehouses and ERP

  • Select cloud-connected drone fleets powered by artificial intelligence together with charging pads and docking stations.
  • Make sure that drone hardware and software are compliant with the ERP you have selected for your business.
  • Make sure video recording and image capturing capabilities of drones are high enough to deliver a good quality of data and avoid mistakes in QR codes reading
  • Connect up to 5 drones into a fleet to test all possible cases of use and data transfer to ERP system, automate it to be sure everything works smoothness and increase the number of drones gradually after basic test fleet was tested so that you can avoid collisions.
  • Use customised dashboards in your ERP to gather and present collected by drones data
  • Make sure drones are able to navigate autonomously through warehouse aisles to scan and monitor items stored.

Major international companies like Google, Amazon, Walmart have been using drones since 2015. Walmart autonomous drone inventory scanning in one hour substitutes work normally taking around 50 people. Having 150-plus warehouses, it’s clear that performing with this approach provides enormous cost savings and allows redirecting of valuable resources.

According to Gartner, global revenue market for the drone is expected to reach more than $11 billion by 2020.

Distribution and warehouse providers constantly search for ways to decrease products delivery time and reduce costs for storage and order processing.

The main purpose of drone use is to assist warehouse personnel in accessing inaccessible places, deal with dangerous goods or perform difficult tasks.

Use of drones is not only a very speedy way to do all these tasks, but it also has huge potential for order performance optimisation.

Using drones in inventory management together with the right modern ERP offers a world of possibilities to improve your business performance.


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Kateryna Sloboda
Kateryna Sloboda
Head of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing consultant with expertise in growth marketing, branding, paid marketing and social media marketing.