In the last decade, retailers have been facing a variety of challenges associated with the increased volumes, regular occurrences of peak periods, and growing demand for physical labor. In warehousing, picking operations have been critical for the efficiency of the entire supply chain, being crucial for customer satisfaction.
Our customer is a large international retailer, and they were struggling with an ever-present problem in the retail industry: lack of visibility in picking operations. Like many other retailers, the customer had no way to measure the performance of the picking process. Being a key bottleneck in warehousing, we were tasked with developing a system that could diagnose picking operations in real-time so that they could make better operational decisions.
To achieve these business goals, we used state-of-the-art Ultra-Wide Band tags to follow assets in the warehouse and developed advanced descriptive analytics to get key insights from the raw data. The solution uses edge hardware for data collection, and cloud computing for analytics and reporting.
This led to a working system that created real-time heatmaps of the customer warehouse and reported key figures on selected time windows. This helped the customer identify bottlenecks in the warehouse layout and product placement.
Real-time Asset Tracking and Monitoring in Warehousing
Prime Vision approached us with a concept of the solution for automating processes in warehousing, including real-time asset tracking and analytics.
This new solution collects location information, processes it immediately, and reports findings in a simple user interface. It is comprised of two elements:
– Geofencing, on the hardware side:
- Ultra-high frequency tags on assets (robots/carts);
- Anchors and beacons receive tag position signals and send them to the platform/server;
- Industrial grade router that allows the creation of one network per customer (VPN).
– Software platform:
- Central server, which is the source of truth for asset information;
- Cloud platform built-in Containers with the latest .NET technologies. This platform processes raw data and creates heatmaps and reports;
- Ability to connect many warehouses into the same cloud platform;
- Hybrid cloud storage is flexible for varying customer needs;
- Real-time monitoring;
- VPN tunnel and adopter for secure data transfer.
Microservices: Perfect Fit for Individual Business Capabilities
One distinctive feature of the cloud-agnostic approach is that the solution can run on-premise (on the client machines) and in the cloud. Customers have the possibility to use the software in different ways. For some of them, it is handy to use the cloud version of the platform, while others prefer to host the application. Microservices and a cloud-agnostic approaches allow satisfying both of these options.
Hence, microservice oriented architecture provides:
- Performance and increased work speed;
- Fault tolerance;
Team: Integration and Instrumentation
Right from the start, our goal was to focus on the technical part, while ensuring that our team is fully engaged in the project and is synchronized with the customer.
Our customer has already had an in-house team and needed some extra skills, so we opted for the extended team model that implies sharing development time and expertise on solution architecture.
The team works according to the classic Agile Scrum methodology with 2-week sprints and a team of up to 15 people. Team roles and responsibilities cover the following domains: Architecture, DevOps, Senior Software engineering, Automation Testing and Frontend engineering.