For Maersk Line, the management of warehouse inventory is one of the most essential barometers for determining the flow of the supply chain, the financial cost exposure, and the business decisions that are made. It is also one of the most difficult, monotonous, and boring operations to do consistently in warehouses, with the validity of the data often being called into question, and it requires personnel to work at heights.
Founded in 1928, Maersk Line is the world’s largest container shipping company by both fleet size and cargo capacity, offering regular services to 374 ports in 116 countries (Source: Wikipedia).
In addition to offering container services, Maersk also provides supply chain and logistics/warehousing services for its clients. This requires that the company store items within warehouses at various stages of the logistics workflow. Tracking the locations of inventory throughout its vast warehouse space is an ongoing task for the inventory team at Maersk.
“As a supply chain integrator, we are constantly looking for new innovations and engineering solutions in our warehouse operations. We wanted to deploy a safer, more accurate, data-driven inventory solution that addressed our decarbonization goals for customers and prevented our workforce from working at heights,” said Erez Agmoni, Senior Vice President of Innovation & Strategic Growth for Maersk North America.
Verity is one of the innovators within the autonomous inventory counting market. The company has an airborne inventory management solution that employs autonomous drones to capture warehouse inventory information and process the data.
Warehouse drones from Verity move from pallet to pallet, scanning barcodes at any height with high-resolution cameras on board to get accurate inventory data in three dimensions. The system takes one day to learn how to use, and the electric-powered drones go back to the charging pad when they need to. They can work at night or on the weekend without overhead lights on. The drones take pictures of the SKUs on the pallets to find inventory mistakes like missing or wrongly placed pallets.
Once the data is collected, the system compares the results with the data stored in the warehouse management system (WMS). It then turns this information into key insights that are sent directly to Maersk users through a dashboard. The results are stored in the cloud, can be shared, and provide actionable warehouse data that gives supply chain leaders better analytics.
“We view the Verity solution as an important differentiator to make our customers more competitive through higher quality, faster inventory data,” Mr. Agmoni said.
The Verity system has improved data accuracy, along with improving the cycle time required to update inventory data. In addition, Mr. Agmoni appreciates the improvements in effective customer decision-making as Maersk clients manage their assets throughout the Maersk logistics chain.