Smarter warehouses stay ahead of the competition with machine vision AI

When choosing to outsource warehouse operations to a third party logistics (3PL) company, buyers demand an excellent customer experience with accurate on-time deliveries of the right product, at the right time, in the right place. Or they take their business elsewhere. On average, 69% of customers will not shop with a company again if their delivery is late according to the Warehousing Education & Research Council (WERC).*

Consumers are also demanding more product variety. As more manufacturers and distributors take on a greater number of distinct items in a product range, product proliferation– and the need to pack smaller more differentiated items – is becoming an added pressure in the warehouse.

With 3PL providers under continual pressure to stay ahead of, or at least match the service levels of their competitors, many are turning to new technology to increase their automation.

WERC foresees increasing investment in automated systems throughout 2020 in areas where the technology can prove it benefits the bottom line and increases productivity. Measurable ROI and success from early adopters is influencing companies who hesitated to invest previously but who now see the attraction of the capital investment required.

Those aiming to lead the field are finding machine vision AI technology to be a game-changer in the race to optimize warehouse packing lines with innovation delivering improved accuracy, efficiency and quality.

ADLINK is helping a number of customers to transform their warehouse packing lines with a state-of-the-art machine vision AI solution. The Smart Palletsolution brings intelligence and automation to a labor intensive packaging and logistics process. It generates value from vision data and provides intelligent insight which can be acted upon in the moment to make a truly automated warehouse operation run smoothly, efficiently and effectively.

The goal is to optimize the warehouse packing line and automate the quality checking process to improve accuracy and efficiency without causing costly disruption to existing operations.

Using two GigE cameras, an Edge AI Gateway computer and ADLINK Edge™ software, package contents are recorded and classified as they move along the packing line. One camera scans the box contents and the other reads a barcode. As the package moves through the quality check-point, two images are recorded and a machine learning model identifies the object. The computer is taught to identify objects in hundreds of different positions, lighting scenes, and other variances with the repetition of this modeling being critical to greater performance and accuracy. Any incorrect contents are instantly detected by cross referencing the real-time vision data of the box contents on the packing line against the packing list on the Warehouse Management System. If an item is in the wrong package an error is detected and a label is printed on the box to signal that a manual quality check is required to remove the incorrect product.

The result is greatly improved accuracy, efficiency and quality within the warehouse operation. Something of tangible and measurable business value to 3PL customers and operators alike.

Investing in machine vision AI technology such as Smart Pallet is potentially transformational and happily it can be realized without the hefty price tag and operational disruption that a large scale IT investment project can often entail.

One ADLINK distribution customer uses ADLINK’s Smart Pallet solution as a nondisruptive investment to enhance existing operations. The packing line conveyor still works in the same way but the technology enables accuracy of over 99%.

The ADLINK solution is ready to go out of the box with minimal configuration required in order to transform warehouse logistics operations by replacing traditional, manual barcode scanning. As a smart solution, Smart Pallet includes all the hardware and software needed including ADLINK’s Smart Cameras, Edge IoT software for real-time connectivity, and Edge IoT apps for machine vision.

The Smart Pallet solution makes packages and pallets themselves intelligent so they can detect where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there, in real-time. This yields improved warehouse logistics and productivity and delivers a competitive edge in 3PL.

Learn more here: or visit us at the 2020 International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) Convention in San Diego March 15-17.

*Warehousing Education & Research Council, 12/31/2019

Author: Hilary Duffy
Author: Hilary Duffy

Global Product Marketing Manager – IoT Software & Solutions at ADLINK Technology