Smart warehouse technology powered by 5G, combined with the sensor- and data-driven Internet of Things (IoT), will transform logistics and supply chains as the Ford assembly line did for manufacturing in 1913, attendees were told at Ecommerce Operations Summit 2021 in Nashville.
Michael Miller, Deputy Director of Engineering at the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corp. and one of the two speakers in the session, said the infrastructure required to enable this future state is being laid now.
“What Henry Ford did was innovative and revolutionary and transformed an entire industry,” Miller said. “We’re talking about building something akin to that. Not a smart warehouse and supply chain for today or tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow.”
Miller is the program director for a smart warehouse prototype for the Department of Defense, at a U.S. Marine Corps facility. The project includes a partnership with a Virginia-based academic-industry consortium whose efforts are being led by Miller’s co-presenter, Sachin Shetty, Associate Director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) at Old Dominion University. This consortium is also involved in various smart logistics projects at the Port of Virginia in Hampton Roads, led by Shetty.
Miller said a smart system using 5G and IoT could have provided a major benefit during the recent Colonial pipeline hack that shut down over 40% of the company’s operations.