Drones in the Warehouse

September 7, 2018
Drones in the Warehouse

Digital inventory management in warehouses is made possible by “plug-and-play aerial robots”.¬† Warehouse drones can be trained to scan and track inventory much faster than humans.

The resulting inventory information is uploaded to the cloud for warehouse/inventory management synchronization.  With better inventory tracking at warehouses, inventory moves faster throughout the supply chain, adding values to companies that invest in digital inventory management technology.


Video Spotlight: Digital Inventory – PINC


Businesses are exploring drone use throughout the supply chain. Check out previous OM in the News posts about last-mile delivery and medical deliveries to geographically isolated regions.

This post is based on the Supply Chain 24/7 article, Can Warehouse Robots Help You Manage Inventory Better?, by Matt Yearling, July 14, 2018; and the YouTube video, Digital Inventory РPINC, by PINC, May 16, 2018. Image sources: Getty Images/iStockphoto, ©DreamPictures/Blend Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the operational benefits of digital inventory management?

Guidance: A list of benefits are included in the article, including 24/7 operation, faster scanning, higher accuracy, reduction of operational expenses, improvement on employee safety, better understanding of inventory levels, and faster inventory movement throughout the supply chain. Students may identify other benefits. The article doesn’t mention drawbacks, providing a good opportunity to encourage brainstorming.

2. What are the technologies involved in putting together a digital inventory management system?

Guidance: The technologies include aerial robots/drones, indoor navigation systems, computer vision and sensors, and a cloud-based warehouse/inventory management systems. This list can lead to a discussion of why the article states that payback takes months, rather than years.

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