M2M innovations invigorate warehouse management

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  • 1. SECURITY DISASTER RECOVERY/COMPLIANCE BI/APPLICATIONS DATA CENTER MANAGEMENT STORAGE ARCHITECTURE NETWORKING APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT CLOUD VIRTUALIZATION Handbook 1 EDITOR’S NOTE M2M Innovations Invigorate Warehouse Management Machine-to-machine technology has many uses outside the warehouse—from shipment tracking to remote diagnostics. But M2M can also bring split-second data visibility inside it, too. 2 M2M TECHNOLOGY BRIDGES THE REAL-TIME GAP 3 SOFTWARE OPTIONS ARE EXPANDING FOR MANUFACTURERS 4 HOW TO DEPLOY NEW WMS TECHNOLOGY
  • 2. 1 EDITOR’S NOTE Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology Making It to Real Time In a world where 24/7 connectivity and ubiquitous Wi-Fi are the norm, machine-to-machine technology is flourishing. Manufacturers can find many uses for M2M outside their walls—from shipment tracking to remote diagnostics—but the technology can also bring split-second data visibility inside the warehouse. At its core, M2M is all about machines talking to each other in real time. When used in conjunction with sensor technologies such as radio-frequency identification, M2M can instantly locate parts and products as they make their way from the shop floor, through the warehouse and onto shipping containers. Knowing exactly where an item is at any given moment is a boon to manufacturing efficiency. In this three-part guide, we’ll examine how M2M is bridging real-time information gaps for manufacturers. Next, we’ll explore the expanding universe of M2M software options. And finally, we’ll get an industry watcher’s tips for deploying new technology in the warehouse. n Brenda Cole Site Editor, SearchManufacturingERP.com 2   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 3. 2 TRENDS Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Access to real-time supply chain information has become a must-have for manufacturers. With the explosion of wireless networks and cloud computing, manufacturers are looking for instant communication across the shop floor or across the ocean. Machine-to-machine, or M2M, technology puts these real-time intelligence capabilities into the devices that manufacturing operations depend on. Machine-to-machine technology is a somewhat misleading phrase, according to Joe Barkai, an analyst at Framingham, Mass., research firm IDC Manufacturing Insights. “It really means ‘machine to back office’ or ‘machine to humans,’ where these machines are communicating from a remote location to a centralized location,” he said. Originally, M2M was focused mostly on remote diagnostics and maintenance, Barkai said. Machines with M2M applications built in can send an alert to their operators when something is wrong. A repairperson can then arrive quickly with the right parts, reducing the need for multiple service visits. Product restocking is another basic use case for M2M technology, Barkai said. “If an ATM or vending machine is running out of products, you don’t have to find this out by making regular maintenance rounds—now the machine can tell you instantly,” he said. 3   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 4. 2 TRENDS Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology Utility companies are starting to use M2M applications for their own routine maintenance, according to Michele Pelino, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Sensor-enabled “smart meters” can instantly transfer data on gas or electricity use In-car intelligent back to a central office, cutting down on monthly insensors send alerts person meter checks, she said. about engine trou“M2M technologies have been around a long time, ble or even save but now we’re seeing more use cases being driven lives with real-time by the fact that the price points by device are going accident diagnosdown, and there is much more wireless connectivity tic programs like for transporting information,” Pelino explained. OnStar. Some manufacturers have transferred some of these new, more affordable applications of M2M to the consumer side. Barkai sees this happening particularly in the automotive industry, where M2M is generally referred to as “telematics.” In-car intelligent sensors send alerts about engine trouble or even save lives with real-time accident diagnostic programs like OnStar. Pelino points to medical device manufacturers, many of which are giving patients the power to measure critical functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels and send that information directly to their doctors. 4   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 5. 2 TRENDS Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology MACHINE-TO-MACHINE SOFTWARE M2M’s uses aren’t limited to product maintenance; intelligent machines also increase efficiency throughout the manufacturing process. “While from the grand technology perspective, M2M is usually a one-sizefits-all, there are some more specific applications on the manufacturing verticals levels,” said Herb Congdon, associate vice president of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). “There are RFID [radio-frequency identification] tags and just-in-time manufacturing [M2M uses] as well as controlling and tracking what’s coming in and going out of the warehouse. With a lot of M2M technology, what we’re talking about is sensors; these sensors can be tracked all the way through the manufacturing process.” When the various machines used during the manufacturing process can talk to each other, businesses can make mission-critical decisions in real time, according to Congdon. “That’s the real benefit. We’ve kind of seen some of those benefits with [program logic controllers] but M2M is more,” he said. “It helps with the entire process, from raw materials to outgoing products as well as transportation and storage.” In the early days of M2M, communication between devices was limited to point-to-point, localized interactions, Congdon said. Now, with the availability of new sensors and chips, companies can communicate with their machines through the cloud. “The home office can keep track of what’s going on in their facilities 5   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 6. 2 TRENDS Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology all over the world as if they were across the street,” he said. “All the info that was only available locally can now be accessed anywhere at any given time, and that adds real confidence to the decision-making process.” Remote monitoring of manufacturing machinery may become more necessary as workforce demographics change, Barkai said. “With an aging workforce, all the people with experience [maintaining machinery] are leaving,” he said. “This means there will be fewer people on the floor with the needed expertise. Here, M2M helps if there’s a failure online with a machine, because the expert can connect remotely to help fix it.” Pelino sees M2M applications being used on the transportation and logistics side of the manufacturing process, with the aid of RFID and Global Positioning System. “Suppliers and manufacturers can now track pallets of stock to know what is coming in and the exact pieces and quantities to be delivered,” she said. Real-time visibility in shipping also reduces lost containers and costly warehouse overstocking. Barkai noted that M2M can also be used in transportation to track the status of temperature-sensitive shipments of food, beverages or even chemicals. Instead of discovering that a container has not been maintained at the proper temperature after the shipment has already been spoiled, M2M-enabled containers can give constant temperature updates to the home office and instantly alert truck drivers if something goes wrong. 6   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 7. 2 TRENDS Home One of the biggest concerns about using M2M across manufacturing is security, according to Barkai. Because most industrial networks were designed when security concerns were not high, companies with machines connected remotely today are more exposed to breaches—some of which could be serious. Barkai cited the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010 as a recent example. Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology TRENDS TO WATCH As wireless networks and cloud computing’s capabilities continue to expand, so will M2M’s possibilities, Congdon said. “Much of TIA’s efforts are around developing M2M technologies through increasing the breadth of the service that M2M companies can use,” he said. “That will get a lot of attention in America and globally. There’s a tremendous demand for spectrum to be cut loose by the federal government to give carriers access to more bandwidth.” Congdon also sees some struggles for machine-to-machine providers to accommodate the wide variety of devices that customers want added to their networks. “When you start talking about the M2M space, you’ve got hundreds or even thousands of customers with specific needs,” he said. “You can’t step from a dozen or so channels to a thousand channels without changing your approach. I think third-party services might start offering certification to make customer devices work on the desired networks.” 7   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 8. 2 TRENDS Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology In coming years, M2M will become common throughout manufacturing, Pelino said. “Certain industries are further along than others, particularly automotive. You’re going to see a broader deployment of health care with 4G as well as more uses in consumer and utilities companies,” she said. “Nobody wants to fall behind with technology, so it won’t just be high-end manufacturers using M2M.” Pelino cautioned that this broader M2M adoption won’t happen overnight. “You’re changing not just how an object is traced, but how customer service, repair and replacement are done,” she said. Barkai predicts that with the growth of wireless networks and devices questions about M2M, usage in manufacturing will shift from “How can these devices be connected?” to “How can these devices be connected while still remaining private and secure?” “We need the standards in place for these devices,” he said. “Traditionally, the biggest hurdle was the connection between devices and carriers. Pretty soon those questions will become moot. M2M will become easier, but the content and value will still be a challenge.” —Brenda Cole 8   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 9. 3 PURCHASING Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers The growth of machine-to-machine software options was once hindered by limited Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity. But now with wireless communication being the norm and networks more expansive than ever, M2M vendors are offering a wide range of services that could be a boon for many manufacturers. “You can accomplish a lot by adding intelligence to your machines,” said Nick Jones, analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn. “If you look at the general principles of M2M, you can see many business models emerging from this technology. Those models include how to reduce the cost of [machinery] maintenance as well as monitoring expensive assets.” Companies can monitor how much a machine is being used and schedule maintenance based on that, he said. Even better, M2M allows machines to broadcast a distress signal when an error occurs, so a repairperson can be sent out as soon as possible. M2M IN USE While M2M applications have traditionally been used to monitor machines outside a company’s facilities—vending machines and elevators are well-established 9   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 10. 3 PURCHASING Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology examples—the technology is finding new uses on the shop floor and in the warehouse. Jones pointed out that some manufacturers—namely, those in the automotive industry and other industries where products are assembled in multiple locations— are using M2M software such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track the progress of individual units as they travel through the assembly process. Jim Wert, general manager of the deviceWISE platform at ILS Technology LLC, has seen excitement grow around shop-floor M2M during the past few years. The Boca Raton, Fla., M2M vendor specializes in remote monitoring services for manufacturers and machine maker original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). “Manufacturers can attach the deviceWISE gateway to a machine and allow that machine to communicate back to them,” Wert said. “Data is sent through a secure service using remote apps and our hubs in New York, Taipei and London.” One manufacturing sector Wert has seen embrace M2M software is energy and utilities. Oil and gas, wastewater and municipal utilities all have to manage a wide array of remote assets. More companies are using M2M devices to send out status and usage info from meters to operations centers, he explained. Demand response signals can broadcast information from remote stations to the central hub of a utility company, cutting down on the need for in-person meter and equipment checks. “[With M2M] there is the ability to monitor the flow of gas and oil to do maintenance tasks like shutting on and off valves. We’ve even done this with a milk pipeline in India,” Wert said. 1 0   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 11. 3 PURCHASING Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology WIDER CELL NETWORKS The growth of wireless cellular networks has meant the growth of M2M capabilities; in fact, it’s not uncommon for M2M vendors to form partnerships with cell carriers to better meet customer demands. One example is Raco Wireless, an M2M provider in Cincinnati. The company has a long-term commitment with T-Mobile to carry M2M applicaIt’s not uncommon tions over a 2G network, according to John Horn, for M2M vendors president of Raco. to form partnerILS has also formed partnerships with major wireships with cell carless providers, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and riers to better meet Motofone, Wert said. By accessing M2M through customer demands. wireless and Software as a Service, manufacturers can avoid hefty, up-front fees and server fees, instead paying only a monthly bill, Wert said. By partnering with a wireless company, M2M vendors can also ensure that the connectivity that is essential to their applications will always be available. “It takes some effort to get M2M solutions into the enterprise, and nobody wants to have to turn it off just because their provider decides to turn off the 2G,” Horn said. “It used to take months to get customers onboard with M2M,” but faster wireless networks have now made it possible to implement M2M software in a day, he said. 1 1   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 12. 3 PURCHASING Home The new simplicity of setting up M2M on a wireless network has made the technology available to manufacturers of all sizes. “It’s just as easy for us to support a company with 1,000 M2M devices as it is for us to support a company with a million M2M devices,” Horn said. “You see very rapid returns on investment through greater efficiencies and product sales.” Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology KEEPING IT TOGETHER Expanded wireless networks have also expanded M2M’s uses past manufacturers and OEMs to customers and shippers. M2M monitoring software installed in automobiles, for example, has given birth to “pay as you drive” (PAYD) insurance as well as “buy here, pay here” (BHPH) car credit, Horn said. Car dealerships can use M2M devices to remotely disable a vehicle if its owner fails to make payments, he said. Shipping and logistics companies are taking advantage of M2M to improve the process of shipment tracking, Horn said. He points to UPS, which has long used RFID and Global Positioning System to track packages, and remote monitoring and freight intelligence company OnAsset Intelligence, which has been approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to keep live devices in the bellies of airplanes. “Companies now can track shipments live and in real time,” Horn said. 1 2   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 13. 3 PURCHASING Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology SOFTWARE CHALLENGES While more manufacturers are deploying M2M applications than ever, there are still some roadblocks to adoption, Jones said. “Part of the challenge of the M2M market is it is amazingly complicated. Someone has to integrate your wireless and hardware, manage subscriptions, send data to cloud service providers and back to manufacturers. Most IT staff doesn’t know how to do this all themselves,” he said. “Some M2M vendors are trying to make it easier to put it all together.” Wert predicts that, despite these challenges, M2M usage will continue to grow in manufacturing. “It’s inevitable. We are seeing the integration of M2M technology at every layer in the value chain, from software makers to PLC [programmable logic controller] makers,” he said. “Radically new M2M architectures will come into play as more manufacturers move into the cloud.” Jones agreed that M2M software has a bright future. “Machines are still the minority versus people, but I think in the future the number of cellular machines will outnumber cellular people,” he said. “The costs are falling. The opportunities are there. The challenge [of M2M] is the imagination, in thinking of clever things to do with it.” —Brenda Cole 1 3   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 14. 4 IMPLEMENTATION Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology How to Deploy New WMS Technology The warehouse management system market has changed rapidly in recent years and has incorporated many new technologies, features and functions. So how can the changes benefit your organization, and what’s best way to deploy the new technology? Warehouse operators now have many more choices of WMS applications. The WMS software market has grown to include several new types of supply chain execution (SCE) software. It has evolved to include functions such as operation management, inventory tracking, resourcing, replenishment, forecasting, RFID and automation for lift trucks, conveyors and robotics. EVER-EXPANDING OPTIONS Back when there were fewer WMS vendors, functionality was limited, but newer systems have very deep functionality. New WMS technology vendors have introduced systems that cover areas that were once not supported by warehouse management systems. More vendors has resulted in multiple players and now the deployment of cloud models and managed services. When selecting a WMS application, organizations must be aware of certain options that cause confusion 1 4   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 15. 4 IMPLEMENTATION Home during WMS deployment, including the depth of functionality as well as aligning system and organizational priorities. Organizations should examine the depth of standard functions they require— for example, bin setup, replenishment and forecasting and Web enablement—narrow down vendors that meet approximately 70% of corporate requirements and further whittle down options to create a short list. Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology EXAMINE AGILITY NEEDED Once an organization determines the depth of functionality it needs, it should use a phased approach to decide the required agility and the right WMS application to use. Organizations should identify their most pressing business issues and install modules that address those first in the WMS application. Organizations should The amount of functionality deployed is diestimate for variances rectly related to the amount of time the first phase in WMS implementawill take. Once the required modules have been detion time­ ables. t ployed and stabilized and employees are comfortable with the application, then the second phase of the implementation begins. Organizations should estimate for variances in WMS implementation 1 5   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 16. 4 IMPLEMENTATION Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology timetables. If an organization has chosen additional requirements, however, it is best to overestimate the time required, as integrations and automation usually take longer than expected to integrate with the base system. Testing interfaces and data exchange should be checked often from end to end to ensure data and transactional integrity. Once this is done, test the entire workflow process, including the Testing interfaces systems, data, agility, automation and exceptions. and data exchange Organizations can identify their needs along with should be checked additional functionality and create a WMS deployment often from end to budget. Keep in mind that the additional functionality end to ensure data can add to the budget quickly. WMS applications have and transac­ ional t matured and are now often offered as on-premises and integrity. cloud options. WMS can also be disguised as supply chain execution software with low-level functionality. So be prepared to closely assess the differences in inventory management software, as there is overlapping functionality and all the features of the WMS may not needed. Extensive testing and a phased approach will allow the organization to succeed in its WMS deployment. In summary, when deploying the new generation of WMS applications, remember the following: 1 6   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 17. 4 IMPLEMENTATION Home Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap ■■ Determine organizational needs. ■■ Create a short list and select a system. ■■ Implement using a phased approach. ■■ Stabilize and make sure staff is comfortable with the system before going to phase two. ■■ Implement the second phase with additional modules. ■■ Retest from end to end including interfaces, exceptions, automations and workflows to ensure all systems work together. —Dylan Persaud Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology 1 7   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T
  • 18. ABOUT THE AUTHORS Home BRENDA COLE is site editor of Search ManfacturingERP.com. She works with the editorial team and contributors to produce articles, guides, newsletters, tips and podcasts. She is a graduate of Northeastern University, where she majored in journalism with minors in English and sociology. Email her at bcole@techtarget.com. M2M Innovations Invigorate Warehouse Management is a SearchManufacturingERP.com e-publication. Jason Sparapani | Managing Editor, E-Publications Editor’s Note M2M Technology Bridges the Real-Time Gap Software Options Are Expanding for Manufacturers How to Deploy New WMS Technology Brenda Cole | Site Editor DYLAN PERSAUD is managing director for Eval-Source, a software consultancy in Toronto. Positions he has held include business systems analyst, implementation lead, project and product manager, enterprise architect, configuration specialist, market analyst and manager of research. David Essex | Executive Editor Kerry Flood | Managing Editor Linda Koury | Director of Online Design Neva Maniscalco | Graphic Designer Mike Bolduc | Publisher mbolduc@techtarget.com Ed Laplante | Director of Sales elaplante@techtarget.com TechTarget 275 Grove Street, Newton, MA 02466  www.techtarget.com © 2013 TechTarget Inc. No part of this publication may be transmitted or reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. TechTarget reprints are available through The YGS Group. About TechTarget: TechTarget publishes media for information technology professionals. More than 100 focused websites enable quick access to a deep store of news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial to your job. Our live and virtual events give you direct access to independent expert commentary and advice. At IT Knowledge Exchange, our social community, you can get advice and share solutions with peers and experts. 1 8   M 2 M I N N OVAT I O N S I N V I G O R AT E WA R E H O U S E M A N AG E M E N T