The concept of Industry 4.0 is nothing new and we have had plenty of time to get used to it. The development of industry started with mechanisation processes, then came electrification, digitisation and, finally, the integration of people and systems with Internet-connected machines. Industry 4.0 solutions can influence the reduction of production costs; they also help to handle customer enquiries. There is no doubt that this translates into building a competitive advantage, so it is not surprising to find out what place in the Industry 4.0 space does warehouse logistics have, especially in Poland. To answer them, we must first assess at which stage of technological advancement Polish companies are.
Industry 4.0 in Polish companies
An issue that needs to be looked at is the standardisation of processes within companies. Have they already done this or is this process still ahead of them? Will the question about implementation of IT systems, integrated with machines and other systems, e.g. production systems, also be relevant? Or maybe is the concept of Industry 4.0 in Polish companies implemented by means of data which are the basis for analysis and optimisation of processes?
Looking at these elements, we will quickly discover that each company is at a different stage and it is difficult to make general statements about Polish enterprises in this respect. Some of them are just beginning their adventure with Industry 4.0 solutions and are analysing processes within their organisations in order to select appropriate IT tools. In other companies, on the other hand, IT systems, machines, robots and sensors have been forming one network (ecosystem) for a long time and now they only strive to optimise the data collected.
Digitalisation: the solution for industry
Not all companies have set themselves the goal of becoming as technologically advanced as possible. As using Industry 4.0 solutions is not an obligation, it is difficult to force them to do anything. However, among those companies that care about the digitisation of their business, we observe a growing interest in this topic and intensification of activities in the area of IT systems implementation. This is because managers are increasingly aware that developing a digital factory is much more than just a technical innovation. They know that such solutions will not only increase efficiency and productivity, but also reduce costs. This is helped by data obtained in such sources as logistics processes, which allow for the use of artificial intelligence algorithms that support the configuration and selection of appropriate flows.
Warehouse logistics and WMS
When dealing with logistics in warehouses and its place in the concept of Industry 4.0, it is worth addressing the topic of WMS. This is important not least because they allow for the control of automatic equipment. Let us, therefore, focus on their functionalities.
What distinguishes a WMS class system is the option to create digital images of warehouses in real time. This is actually its most important feature. Thanks to the WMS, we collect detailed data on work in progress in the warehouse, materials and products used and consumed in the course of work, machines in operation, tools used and conditions under which subsequent elements are manufactured.
WMS in warehouses: not only automatic communication
It is also on the part of the WMS to capture information: it does this via smart sensor, RFID, barcode or mobile devices and touch-screen terminals to connect directly to each machine. With this data, a process can be designed for automated technology. All machines, tools, conveyors, trolleys and vertical storage systems will then operate without any supervision or in interactive mode with the operator. Thus, it looks like it is the system that automatically handles the warehouse logistics activities. It controls, monitors and analyses them, displays current statuses and is also responsible for communication with the operator. To sum up, it is difficult to imagine the smooth handling of warehouse logistics processes without the implementation of a WMS. All the more so as its capabilities and functionalities perfectly fit into the concept of Industry 4.0.
expert in the R&D department eq system
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