The logistics industry is rapidly evolving thanks to the emergence of new and innovative technologies. One well-known example is the inventory/pallet dimensioner used in warehouse management. Accurate dimensional data can make warehouse operations a lot more efficient and improve overall business planning. But why do warehouse managers need dimensional data, and how does this technology improve the efficiency of operations? Below we discuss the answer to these questions. Let's get started.
Dimensional data includes pallet dimensions, i.e. when products are entirely packed. The dimensions of a single unit contain the longest, median, and shortest sides, which are the pallet's length, width, and height, respectively.
Storage space is one of the most significant cost factors in a warehouse, constituting about 25% to 30% of total costs. The more space a warehouse takes up to store the inventory, the more costs it will incur (read our earlier article to learn about more ways to optimize your warehouse space: link). Warehouse managers look for intelligent solutions for effectively managing the storage space. Dimensional data of the underlying inventory is of vital importance in this regard. With more accurate data, the selection and placement processes become more efficient. Managers can select the most suitable inventory items and storage locations to save idle spaces. This means that more products can be stored in the warehouse.
Storage constitutes about 25% to 30% of total warehousing costs
Secondly, when it comes to distribution and transportation, most carriers run out of space before they reach the maximum weight limit. Planning the packaging and having an estimate of dimensions can help you plan the storage arrangement so that you can ship more products in the same price.
Capacity planning is an essential aspect of warehouse management. It reduces inefficiencies in processes and saves storage costs. Inventory dimensional data plays a key role in defining the total capacity of the warehouse. Managers analyse inventory dimensions and determine the warehouse's current storage capacity and the required capacity for future plans.
Imagine how cumbersome it is to measure the package manually. Walking around the sides taking reading and storing it is slow, inaccurate and can be harmful for your business. Dimensioners can measure up to 10x faster than humans, which means more data is collected in less time and products are stored in the warehouses faster. Most warehouse businesses get a return on their investment within the first 3-6 months of investing in dimensioners. Seeing the speed, accuracy and revenue that the dimensioners bring to the warehouse, the cost is low.
Product packaging should have the least environmental impact, it should be sustainable. Dimensional data about a particular stock-keeping unit defines the most suitable packaging solution for the underlying item. Having accurate dimensional data means that you can plan product’s packaging efficiently. This will in turn enable you to get better estimates of the shipping cost you will incur and will decrease volumetric weight leading to a reduction in shipping costs.
A couple of years ago Apple stopped providing phone chargers in their new boxes. This is a classic example of sustainable packaging and it fits Apple’s campaign of ‘reduce environmental impact’ by reusing old chargers and also by enabling a smaller box size which is cheaper to ship. This way, Apple is not just saving on new chargers and reduced shipping costs, it is also building a positive brand image by supporting minimum environmental waste (unless you really needed that new charger of course…).
Perhaps the largest advantage is that accurate dimensional data is essential in warehouse automation, which often heavily relies on having lots of data. It helps you plan what kind of features you will need in machines to help you reduce the manual effort. For example, you want robots to pick-up boxes, scan then and put then at the right place in your warehouse. You will have to use dimensional data to define the functionality of the robot because they have limitations too. Your machinery should be designed around the size of boxes that your warehouse stores so that robots can pick, scan and store them correctly. This is an extremely important benefit of having accurate dimensional data about your boxes or items.
Most automation technologies are highly data driven and often require dimensional data
Fact: The global warehouse automation market is expected to grow by more than $30 billion in 2026. (Zebra)
A (pallet) dimensioner is a modern tool that collects dimensional data for SKUs. It replaces the traditional practice of manually measuring the dimensions with tapes and taking photos. Pallet dimensions nowadays use 3D dimensioning technology that uses a high-definition camera or laser to measure dimensions accurately and effortlessly. For reference, a dimensioner can measure up to 10 times more boxes compared to a human doing it manually.
A well-thought-out dimensioner operation is one that is integrated with other operations. For example, some companies have started using barcodes and QR code scanners with their dimensioners also to identify which SKU has what dimensions and then automatically store it in the WMS. The data is automatically stored and AI systems provide helpful insights on where this item should be stored in the warehouse for maximum space optimization.
This type of integration might feel advanced or unnecessary to many businesses but in this competitive environment where the businesses need to make the most out of their logistics, it is the minimum.
We can safely conclude that dimensional data can have a big impact on making your warehouse more effective. Inventory managers can make more intelligent choices and maximize overall operational productivity.
It also enables further automation as lots of these solution leverage data. One of these solutions is Powerhouse AI. Our application leverages dimensional data to increase its accuracy even more to determine the exact number of inventory on a pallet, rack or shelve. Feel free to get in touch with us if you want to know how our software can help you in automating your stocktake or inbound processes: making your warehouse more efficient, less prone to human error and enabling you to make more intelligent decisions.