Cool Ways Drone Technology Can Be Used in the Supply Chain

Dustin Caudell
Tue, Jun 2, 2015
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Drones are useful in the supply chain despite recent changes to FAA regulations.

In February 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration released a new set of guidelines affecting the use of drones in manufacturing and shipping items in the U.S. Many have criticized the guidelines for being too strict. The guidelines state that drones must be less than 55 pounds in weight, can only fly during good weather, can only fly at speeds slower than 100 miles per hour, must not fly close to airports and must be within visible sight of the operator. Despite these seemingly strict regulations, companies like Amazon and Google continue to express interest in using drone technology for some of their deliveries.

There are a few key reasons why drones are becoming more popular for use in the supply chain, and they all revolve around how the technology helps simplify operations and create efficiency in the warehouse.

Fast, More Efficient Delivery
Drone technology offers a way for businesses to get packages to customers in record time. As this kind of tech becomes even more popular in the supply chain, businesses will start looking into using it to do same-day deliveries of food, books or other items, according to ZDNet.

With drone technology, it also becomes possible to send small shipments to remote locations. Logistics firms have been able to expand their reach around the world, connecting remote parts of the globe and ensuring customers receive shipments as quickly as possible despite what distance there may be.

In the Warehouse
Companies can also use drones to streamline warehouse management processes. SupplyChain24/7 noted that already, drones can move pallets around the warehouse and other tasks related to inventory mobility. According to Material Handling & Logistics, a warehouse technology company in the Netherlands is looking to learn more about how drones can be used to build pallet loads:

"With little superstructure or extensive hardware to install, a drone-based palletizing solution could be deployed rapidly, and should be capable of a relatively high sustained load throughput," said the company, which is called Qimarox. "Although the current limitation on their usefulness is clearly the weight of the carried load, this is not seen as insurmountable in the medium term. Interest from companies like Amazon will continue to drive battery and control development."

High-Tech Solutions Go Hand-in-Hand With Drones
In today's high-tech world of supply chain automation, it's important to remain competitive, and warehouse management solutions can help minimize the error in data collection. Since many businesses are looking into using drones for remote delivery of products, they want to collect the right kind of data to see what, exactly, is happening to their shipments. Whether the drone is moving product around the warehouse or making a delivery to a customer, it's crucial to collect accurate data, and this can be done by integrating warehouse management solutions like radio frequency identification devices and mobile data collection. When integrated into existing enterprise resource solutions and coupled with drone use, these solutions can make inventory management easier and more accurate. Companies can be certain where their products are on warehouse shelves and reduce human error associated with the shipping process.

Download the free e-book 5 Amazon Inventory Management Secrets to learn what  Amazon's innovations mean for your digital supply chain strategy.

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