Whitepaper: Self-flying drones automate inventory tracking in the warehouse


Over the past 20 years, supply chain innovation has enabled retailers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and manufacturers to accelerate the movement of goods across the supply chain, reduce costs, and achieve dramatic improvements in customer service. Despite the prevalent use of technology and the availability of precise data, one area of the supply chain that had been left behind is inventory tracking.

In the warehouse, sophisticated Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) have played a key role in turning inventory data into insights that help improve operations. Even so, the costly, labor-intensive chore of tracking and accurately recording inventory data has failed to evolve. Lacking a better option to get the job done, warehouse employees are required to take time away from value-added tasks to manually track pallets on the warehouse floor. It is a monotonous, tedious, and often dangerous job that is universally unpopular among warehouse personnel. As a result, employee satisfaction drops, process compliance suffers, and inventory errors are seen as an ‘acceptable failure’ within an other-wise exceptional operation.

Inventory tracking is not something that should be overlooked in the quest to fully optimize the supply chain. It is a vital process for companies striving to achieve supply chain excellence, but it is no easy task. Errors in large warehouses are difficult to find, and that challenge scales in direct relationship to the size and height of the warehouse. The continuous movement of goods introduces new errors constantly—often before existing errors are resolved. This means that many errors are only discovered at the point of fulfillment, causing interruptions of normal operations, the potential for partially completed orders, and delays or unfulfilled orders that negatively impact customer service.

A new approach to inventory tracking

Recent advancements in indoor drone systems are enabling today’s most innovative retailers, 3PLs, and manufacturers to fully automate the process of inventory tracking. By capturing accurate inventory data with human interaction, these systems help detect and correct inventory errors, omissions, and discrepancies before they disrupt operations or compromise customer service. By providing frequent and consistent feedback, these systems also help management identify and eliminate process errors that can impact upstream and downstream operations. Ultimately, fully integrated indoor drone systems enable the zero-error warehouse.

Read the full white paper below to learn how automated inventory tracking can lower costs and improve accuracy, efficiency, autonomy, customer service, and safety—all to create a better, smarter warehouse.

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