In talking to 3PLs and brands across the Tompkins Ventures network on a daily basis, I find many are unhappy with how their warehouses operate. From inefficient layouts to bad inventory management to poor preparedness for seasonal demands, problems abound.

Fortunately, we have also seen cases where network partners are integrating artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality to increase distribution/fulfillment center picking efficiency by 20% to 40%. Larger operators are saving millions. AI – it’s not just for ChatGPT!

These technology options create digital twins of your warehouse, operations and inventory – every nook, cranny and bin. To continually gather data, these apps and sensors are integrated into your operating technology – your forklifts, automated guided vehicles, conveyors, autonomous mobile robots, tablets, drones, etc. Your workforce can work – not spend time inputting data. AI and ML analyze this data in real time, running simulations and recommending optimized workflows for every warehouse operation: picking, putaway, cycle counting, crossdock, loading and unloading. You get one routing service to support all warehouse operations with dynamic route optimization.

Your employees could be using 3D work views and augmented reality, seeing rich flows of data from the digital world paired with the reality of your physical warehouse. Visual and audio learning and instructions make it easy to onboard staff. Your human workforce and machines would safely share the same physical, logical and social context-awareness information and activities.

These systems can optimize inventory slotting based on order velocity, travel distance, vertical reach, seasonality, temporary spikes, brand segmentation and mixed SKUs. The systems can also provide high-resolution certifiable carbon accounting in your move to a more ESG-friendly operation.

These systems can augment or replace your existing WMS. And if you pick the right partners with the right integration capabilities, your organization will not waste big money investing in proprietary technologies that do not work together.

Whether your warehouses are primarily pallet, case, each picking or a combination, I would love to discuss how Tompkins Ventures can drive efficiencies within the four walls of every distribution center or fulfillment center your organization operates.