warehouse automation

3 Myths about Automation and AI in Warehouse Operations

Innovations in AI have made it easier than ever to create smarter, more efficient, and safer warehouse operations. Here's 3 myths we should break.

Automation is reshaping the warehouse industry as we know it, promising to deliver increased efficiency, lower costs, and a safer working environment. At the heart of this transformation are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) software that can analyze vast amounts of data to enable smart automation and better decision making. 

Many warehouse players have yet to adopt automation and AI despite the potential benefits. In our experience, three common “myths” about warehouse automation often prevent companies from harnessing the full potential of these technologies. This blog post breaks down these misconceptions and offers insights on making the most of AI solutions in the warehouse.

Myth #1: It’s a long path to ROI

Companies that adopt automation and AI solutions no longer need to wait months or years to see a return on their investment. Today, AI warehouse solutions can be both affordable and quick to install, which means you can start reaping the benefits sooner.

Invest in software, not hardware.

Companies traditionally have overinvested in clunky hardware that was expensive to install and integrate, leading to long payback periods and lower returns. Today, there is an easier way to equip a warehouse with AI and automation technology. The key is to focus instead on advanced AI and ML software with added support from low-footprint, affordable hardware. The software allows companies to generate rich insights from data—insights that they can act on for better business outcomes. For example, Motion2AI works by installing Wi-Fi-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices (called MotionKits) on material handling equipment (MHE). MotionKits are flexible, capital-light solutions that eliminate the need to install and maintain any beacons or “bolts-in-the-ground” infrastructure. Data generated by the MotionKits are imported into our cutting-edge software, allowing users to gain new visibility into their current operations. 

Get up and running in days.

New technology makes it quick and simple for warehouses to install IoT devices—without downtime or extended rollout periods. Each MotionKit device can be installed in ten minutes, and installation can easily take place while forklifts are charging or are under maintenance. This means an entire warehouse or distribution center can be outfitted with AI technology in as little as two weeks so that you can get straight to the data and insights.

Unlock significant value with a small investment.

Bringing in cutting-edge AI solutions does not require an all-or-nothing commitment. With Motion2AI, companies have the flexibility to install IoT devices on just one subset of their equipment, such as the highest-volume forklifts or high-traffic areas within the warehouse. You can start small and ramp up over time—or scale back as circumstances change. For warehouse operators who are new to automation and AI, usage-based pricing can help manage costs and ensure that you pay only for what you need.

Myth #2: It’s inflexible

In the past, productivity solutions were hardwired into the physical infrastructure, with limited room to grow and change. Robust AI software can now perform the heavy lifting, allowing for more flexibility and customization. As a result, advanced AI solutions can meet you where you are today and adapt to help you better prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

Customize AI solutions to meet your needs.

Traditional, hardware-intensive products lock you into a fixed system. Motion2AI, however, offers a dynamic and modular solution that can be tailored to your needs. Because MotionKits can capture almost unlimited amounts of data, they can be used to analyze a much broader set of metrics than any telematics or warehouse management system (WMS) solution. Data from the camera sensor can generate rich and valuable information about individual and global productivity, traffic and congestion patterns, idle times, load factors, and much more. For a wider set of inputs, companies can easily plug in auxiliary sensors, including temperature sensors, momentum detection, and safety systems. In other words, you can pick and choose what is most useful for you and make changes as you go.

Integrate with your existing systems.

One of the barriers to implementing AI technology has often been a lack of compatibility with legacy systems and platforms. However, Motion2AI’s software seamlessly integrates with all commercial and custom WMS software so you don’t have to change any of your existing physical or digital infrastructure. And if your business or operating model changes, Motion2AI can evolve with you and continue to provide the data and insights you need.

Myth #3: It’s complicated

We all know that AI can collect and process reams of data. But how easy is it to actually use that data to generate value? You can quickly transform data into action with the right solution and the right capabilities.

Make the complex simple.

AI should provide more than just data: it should help you identify and solve problems in your warehouse. Motion2AI helps translate vast amounts of data into valuable insights and actionable recommendations. For example, one multinational consumer electronics company discovered high levels of congestion near the elevators at a multistory warehouse. With information from the MotionKits, the company realized that all of the forklift drivers were using the two closest elevators, while the two farthest elevators were left idle. The AI technology was able to help them understand that the shortest path is not necessarily the fastest path—and dynamically optimize their routes moving forward based on current warehouse conditions.

Put data into context.

AI provides greater visibility into warehouse operations and can also drill down into the nuances and the “why” behind the numbers. For example, instead of relying on a raw metric of worker productivity (for example, pallet moves per worker), Motion2AI can factor in the complexity and difficulty of each task and the real-time situation at the warehouse, providing a more nuanced view of productivity. Similarly, most warehouses are able to keep close tabs on accidents, but it is harder to track and learn from the accidents that almost happened. With IoT sensors that detect the direction, speed, and proximity of MHEs, MotionKits can identify potential safety risks with greater confidence and fewer false positives. This additional layer of information makes it easier to create a smarter—and safer—warehouse.

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