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Nokia expert on enabling the warehouse of the future through Optical LAN

Nokia expert on enabling the warehouse of the future through Optical LAN

NetworkingThought LeadershipTop StoriesTrade & Logistics

The warehouse of the future must have a fast, efficient communications network connecting everything and everyone. This is the view of George Verdes, Head of Sales for Transportation and Logistics in MEA at Nokia, who tells us here how Nokia’s Optical LAN is enabling this vision. 

George Verdes, Head of Sales for Transportation and Logistics in MEA at Nokia

Global lockdown in 2020 and beyond has resulted in a surge in e-commerce, along with a change in consumer expectations and behaviour. A need for specific goods quickly coupled with a want for fast gratification has put supply chains and warehouses under pressure to manage their operations with increasing speed.

Warehouse operators are facing cost pressures, tougher SLAs and booming e-commerce markets, which is driving them to open new warehousing facilities closer to the end-user and to increase the use of automation in facilities. LogisiticIQ Research forecasts the warehouse automation market will grow at a ~14% CAGR from US$14.8 bn in 2019 to almost double at US$29.8 bn in 2026.

The benefits of warehouse automation improvement in throughput and productivity, ensures maximum uptime and reduces costs. As supply chain and logistics operations look to digitalise and automate to minimise the impact of COVID-19, the use of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will also drive automation changes in warehousing – a change that requires fast, reliable connectivity.

IIoT will also play an important role in the warehouse of the future. These new and advanced sensors can be deployed in warehouses to monitor temperature, health, energy, light and machines, and used for safety, predictive maintenance and facility management to improve situational awareness in and around the warehouse. Asset tracking, condition monitoring and indoor precise positioning are three elements that are also crucial to the warehouse of the future.

It gives the warehouse operations full visibility of their supply chain which enables them to understand the estimated time of arrival of assets to warehouses, diagnosing unhealthy or disrupted supply chains and provide improved customer service.

Through precise indoor positioning, warehouse operators can improve the safety of personnel and know the location and safety of their assets. Advanced analytics in turn can assist the warehouse operator in using data to make real-time decisions and further improve productivity.

To support the adoption of warehouse IIoT will require secure, reliable data connectivity and communications, yet many existing warehouse networks are holding back operations rather than enhancing them. An annual survey of distribution centres by St. Onge6, a supply chain consulting firm, shows that approximately 80% of warehouses in the United States are manually operated with no supporting automation, 15% are mechanised and just 5% are highly automated. 

The warehouse of the future must have a fast, efficient communications network connecting everything and everyone. This will enable increased productivity and cost efficiency to provide the warehouse operator the sustainable growth and competitiveness it needs. It also enables the implementation of new technologies to further improve operations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect inventory, vehicles, people and equipment, robotic, guided and automated handling and movement, and augmented reality vision picking systems. This data is captured into the warehouse management system where analytics can monitor operational conditions and monitor performance and can be made available in real-time, anywhere.

Nokia’s Optical LAN is built on Passive Optical Network (PON), the technology that brings high-speed broadband to millions of homes and businesses worldwide. Currently our solution supports GPON and XGS-PON and will support 25G PON in the future. It delivers massive high-speed connectivity for everything and everyone in the warehouse to enable warehouse workers to process the increasing volume of information that must be managed quickly and efficiently.

The network requires 90% less equipment than traditional copper-based networks freeing up valuable warehousing space. Nokia’s Optical LAN provides substantial savings on capital expenditure, reducing the total cost of ownership by 50%, while still ensuring a 99.999% uptime. This means that the warehouse can have one single network for all devices and services, with military-grade encryption to ensure it is secure.

Optical LAN has several key benefits for warehouse operators. Passive optical LAN technology is cheaper to install, operate, maintain and power than traditional Ethernet LANs and all services can run on one centrally managed LAN. A combination of fixed and wireless access points provides ultra-fast connectivity throughout the warehouse and centralised network control and automation reduces the need for manual interventions while improving efficiency and reliability.

Fibre optic cable is thin, light, strong, flexible, fire-resistant and substantially reduces copper cabling volume and weight making it easy to install everywhere and easily extend as the warehouse expands. The cable is also resistant to interference and comes with features and bandwidth mechanisms that ensure traffic is managed so that each device gets the required bandwidth.

Passive technology requires less power and cooling, therefore reducing energy bills and carbon footprint, and because less equipment is needed it can save up to 90% of valuable floor space. It is also future-proof, exceptionally reliable and uses military-grade 128-bit data encryption as a standard, while data in-network access points cannot be accessed locally.

With Nokia Optical LAN warehouse operators can begin their digitalisation and automation journey with a high-performance, secure and reliable network which provides the scalability that is needed to connect all their equipment, IIoT devices and employees onto a common infrastructure.

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