Logistics is the lifeblood of any business dealing in tangible goods. With no margin for error, the expectations placed on back-end logistics are tremendous and grow by leaps and bounds as we progress through the digital age. Technology infrastructure is the foundation for enabling precision logistics.
Consumers who have grown to expect that any given item in the right size, color and/or format will reach them anywhere in the world in a matter days and sometimes even hours, have raised the stakes for logistics and demand speed, accuracy, precision and effectiveness.
Leaders from top logistics providers gathered at the Logistics CIO Forum in Austin on November 6-7 to envision the future of logistics and discuss how technologies can bring agility, security and innovation to the industry. From artificial intelligence to robotics, from drones to IoT sensors, the technologies that are being deployed in today’s logistics environments are impressive.
However, one notable challenge was a common thread in many discussions throughout the two-day event. Amid visions of innovation and strategic plans, many of these projects have put the proverbial cart before the horse. How? Every one of these next generation technologies requires rock-solid infrastructure to effectively support it. Want drones and robots working the floor? You’d better have a secure, robust wireless network dedicated to support those devices. Artificial intelligence requires physical layer infrastructure capable of supporting massive amounts of data being transferred to the cloud and back in rapid succession. Physical security technologies require power cabling. The list goes on.
In eager pursuit of these powerful technologies, companies are overlooking the critical step of assessing the readiness of their infrastructure to support these technologies and their level of functionality. Without the critical infrastructure, the latest and greatest technologies won’t work. The lesson for logistics providers: Don’t wait until you’ve assessed, vetted, and budgeted for new technologies to address your infrastructure. Make it part of the project. Doing so can prevent costly rework, missed deployment timeframes and unexpected expense.
What does infrastructure readiness assessment look like?
Below are just a few best practices that can help you begin to plan for infrastructure investments and upgrades that may be required.
- Is there sufficient electrical power to run the new equipment?
- Do you have sufficient routing and switching to support the new applications?
- Are servers updated with required OS/platform to run the new technology?
- If it is a wireless application or technology, can your wireless infrastructure support the additional traffic?
- Is a wireless upgrade required and, if so, are new switches and/or access points required?
- Do you have the proper router/firewall/ security appliance in place?
It may even be a good idea to conduct quarterly surveys to verify that everything is working well and can support IT’s strategic vision. For more information about infrastructure site readiness assessments, read here. Before deploying that new technology to take your logistics facility to the next level, evaluate your infrastructure as a part of every new technology planned to save yourself time, trouble and delays.