Warehouse managers often cite productivity improvements as the main benefit of location tracking systems. Precise data can help managers identify workflow bottlenecks, but also improve safety in a warehouse by alerting workers if they get too close to machinery or moving vehicles. However, effective location tracking can also hold some more unexpected benefits.
Identify worker emergencies quickly
A busy warehouse is inevitably a hive of activity and noise. In the event a worker falls ill or is injured, they might not be able to raise an alarm or be heard over the sound of moving vehicles and machinery. By tracking workers, you can identify where any colleague is at a given time if you are concerned about their situation. For example, if a worker suffers a heart attack, a tracking system could be configured to not only send an alert to say the worker hasn’t left an area, but can also pinpoint exactly where he or she is located. You can then find and arrange aid much more quickly than having to search the warehouse floor for the missing co-worker.
Test evacuation routes
In the case of an emergency, every employee should know how to leave the warehouse and get to a safe location. Practice evacuations are an invaluable way to make sure every worker knows the emergency routes out of a building, but also gives management or safety officials a way to check their emergency procedures work. By tracking the movements of workers during the evacuation, you can assess if emergency routes are optimised for fast exit and can identify any blockers.
For example, if the data shows a bottleneck in a certain area or by a specific set of emergency doors, you can investigate how the area could be kept clear or if the doors need replacing. The analysis process is no different to the way the data can be used to optimise vehicle traffic flows or performance, but can have a significant impact on the overall safety of the warehouse.
Get visibility during emergencies
In the event of a real emergency, an effective tracking system can check whether all workers have left the building or identify quickly if any colleagues are still at risk. If a worker cannot evacuate, emergency services can also use the location data to find and help them without spending time looking for them elsewhere.
Monitor equipment wear and tear
Tracking technology not only shows vehicle location and proximity to others, but can help you to identify wear and tear on those vehicles before it occurs. This not only reduces the risk of workplace incident if the vehicle or machinery becomes dangerous through degradation, but can also help to plan for future upgrades or trigger safety assessments.
As an illustration, you could gather tracking data about how far each forklift has travelled in a central location without having to check each vehicle individually. Over time, tracking data can help you estimate when replacements or assessments are needed, avoiding an unexpected breakdown that could leave you without operational vehicles.
Track electricity/charging requirements
If you know how far a vehicle can travel on a full battery, you can calculate when charging is required. Tracking vehicles can therefore highlight when unnecessary battery charges are carried out, for example when drivers do this to have a break or a chat with their colleagues. Identifying the culprits can help eliminate these needless charging stops and in turn increase productivity.
Monitor restricted areas in your warehouse
Tracking the location of your workers can help you monitor a restricted area in your warehouse, such as a chemical store. The right tracking systems will help you identify when and how someone might access a restricted area so you can act accordingly. The end result may be an emergency interception, better signage, training or security, but without the right tracking you may be left unaware.
Increase the power of your data
Location tracking systems shouldn’t work in isolation from other data-rich systems. The greatest benefits come from combining data from different systems to build a fuller picture of warehouse workings and possible improvements.
If you handle perishable goods in your warehouse, you may also use a series of systems to monitor the temperature or humidity of crated goods. By integrating data from both sources, you can calculate how far a driver can travel with a crate before the temperature or humidity is affected and then plan transit routes accordingly.