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Smart IoT technology helps warehouses save BIG money

warehouse management systems

Posted On: December 9, 2020

The warehousing sector in India is experiencing considerable growth. Gone are the dingy godowns of yesteryears. Modern Indian warehouses are evolving with increased square footage and better technology.

According to statistics published by JLL India, warehouse absorption use grew from 32M sq. ft. in 2018 to nearly 37M sq. ft. in 2019. The Indian warehousing industry was estimated at INR 561 Billion in 2017, with some projections expecting it to reach INR 968 Billion by 2024, at a healthy 9.5% CAGR. The structured reforms wave, including the recent infrastructure status granted to logistics, and the implementation of GST, has also attracted outside interest, with USD 10 Billion in investments expected over the next few years.

Digital transformation paired with decreasing costs is now making it possible for Indian warehouses to make bigger strides with automation, real time tracking, RFID based automated data collection and stock identification which has resulted in the need for sophisticated Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) like IGZY.

Given this background, it is not hard to see that warehousing in India is definitely a space to watch out for in 2020 and beyond.

Challenges faced by warehouses in India

While sector optimism is justified given the growth, warehouses in India continue to experience challenges.

Among the challenges faced by warehouses in India, robust warehouse management systems  and warehouse security are the biggest. India’s warehouses are woefully insecure, especially compared with state of the art modern facilities in the developed world. This blog focuses on warehouse security, and provides some food for thought on how this can be implemented for warehouses in India.

Organized and petty criminals have industrial sites and warehouses in their sights for good reason. The relatively remote location of warehouses on the outskirts of a city make these locations especially tempting. Combined with the high cost of products or goods that are housed in these locations, it is easy to see why warehouses are targeted for thefts.

And these are not the only types of misfortunes that may befall a warehouse.

Shrinkage may also result due to acts of thievery within the business. Vandalism, damage to products, warehouse fires, flooding are some other challenges faced by warehouses on a daily basis, not to mention the bad publicity and press such events may result in.

The pitfalls of man-guarding warehouses in India

Indian warehouses have dealt with these threats the same way they’ve dealt with personal security – by setting up a guard office and employing a cast of revolving guards with a view to deterring miscreants by their mere presence. Guards at these locations are sometimes unarmed, with the power to react to crimes and report them but unable to do much by way of pre-emptively stopping them.

Man-guarding warehouses is an inefficient, unreliable, and expensive proposition!

Instances where security guards are sleeping on the job and unable to perform their duties are not unheard of. Even worse is when guards employed to protect products or goods are unwilling to do so. The temptation of the expensive goods they guard may be enough to turn them traitorous.

Even when you have guards with impeccable personal credentials, an organized set of criminals bent on robbing a warehouse can easily hoodwink the guards, taking them completely by surprise. These problems may worsen during periods such as weekends, bank holidays, or other public holidays when warehouse sites are relatively lightly manned.

Warehouses also tend to outsource security operations to third party companies whose job it is to hire security personnel. Personnel churn is often the norm at these smaller companies. When warehouse security depends on a revolving cast of personnel, one wonders how robustly guards are trained on SOPs, whether the SOP training covers a multitude of situations, and how studiously SOPs are followed in the event of a mishap.

One temptation for warehouse managers might be to add more guards to the mix. If two guards patrol the business somewhat adequately, do four or ten guards or twenty guards provide a bigger deterrent?

Just as too many cooks spoil a broth, a mini-posse of guards may only cause confusion and mayhem. The OPEX of running such a security enterprise itself should be a big deterrent to anyone tempted to think along these lines. In Tier I cities, a single guard’s salary costs anywhere between INR 10-20,000 per month. The cost of running a security department of 10 personnel can easily amount to INR 12-24 lakhs per year.

Warehouses and businesses across India have attempted to remedy these by using CCTV cameras. CCTVs would be quite useful if they actually did their job. Even the petty criminals know that in some instances, CCTVs are for show only or non-functional. In the instances when they do work, they only record the crime mutely, without providing any means to deter it. If security guards are sleeping on the job or otherwise distracted from the action unfolding on the monitors in front of them, it can mean that nothing gets done until it is too late.

A major disadvantage of CCTV footage is that it can be used only for a limited period of time. It can easily be erased and recorded over by anyone with access to the tapes. The reasons for this may be manifold – from benign reasons such as limited storage available to record CCTV footage, to more nefarious ones, where people with access to the camera erase footage to hide evidence of their own crimes or in aid of others.

The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) and e-Surveillance systems

Enter new age security systems based on Internet of Things (IoT) and e-Surveillance technology. For the uninitiated, IoT refers to a set of connected devices that communicate with one another. At IGZY, IoT and e-surveillance are used together to denote an infrastructure of devices that are connected with one another and store their data in the cloud.

Think of IoT and e-Surveillance as CCTVs on steroids. These systems are not reliant just on video footage, but also on data from a variety of connected sensors and other devices. Sophisticated e-Surveillance systems record events and store their data in the cloud, allowing for it to be securely stored. Data can be made accessible for a longer period of time and can only be erased or otherwise changed if an administrator with sufficient privileges allows it. As costs of cloud use go down, it will only get cheaper and cheaper to store video footage for later review.

Warehouse owners may be deterred by the thought of setting up IoT (Internet of Things) and e-Surveillance infrastructures, because of preconceived ideas about the cost and effort of such an undertaking, without weighing them against the benefits of the exercise.

Utilized the right way, IoT devices and e-Surveillance systems can truly help warehouses turn an expense into a profit by cutting down on losses due to thefts, floods, fires, and other such undesirable events.  e-Surveillance systems not only detect events as they are unfolding, but can also alert your security personnel and others, based on the SOP.

Consider a simple but typical example: sensors mounted along the periphery of a warehouse can be used to trigger light and sound alarms at multiple locations, including the control room and guard room.

In most IoT and e-surveillance systems you can also set up rule based monitoring such as between what times of day the alarm must be sounded, who needs to be notified when an intrusion occurs, and which devices these notifications need to be sent to.

Connected devices such as panic switches can help personnel alert their fellow guards or superiors to impending danger both silently and through loud alarms.  These devices can also be used to monitor and alert personnel in non-intruder emergency situations such as when a fire occurs. By alerting employees it can be valuable in saving lives and property.

Today’s state of the art IoT and e-surveillance offerings can not only help you with warehouse security but also detect and alert you to events such as fire or flooding which can result in costly product damage. Interconnected devices reporting into a central system can reduce the dependency on guards. They can also help you see if your warehouse’s SOPs are being adhered by your staff, and pinpoint areas for improvement.

Investing in an effective and robust e-Surveillance system can truly help you with warehouse security, providing enhanced control and peace of mind.

Our smart warehouse security systems with remote e-surveillance and AI based CCTV cameras backed by a unified Internet-of-Things (IoT) platform are helping warehouses reduce overall expenses and also providing them with significant ROI on their surveillance infrastructure investment.

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