Skip to main content

Nokia’s autonomous monitoring service looks to upend warehouse industry

With Nokia AIMS, autonomous drones seamlessly fly though warehouses, scanning inventory and constantly keeping managers up to date.

In the never-ending quest for efficient, customer-focused and cost-effective operations, warehouse operators today face a difficult choice.

Either they invest heavily in high-cost manpower to manage their massive inventory, or they accept the inevitable costs of “shrinkage” where products are lost or misplaced in large warehouses. That can add up to an annual loss of up to 20 percent of the inventory value, which not only adds massive expenses but also affects the ability to ship products to customers.

Now, Nokia has solved this dilemma with the launch of our groundbreaking Autonomous Industrial Monitoring Service (AIMS). These autonomous drones seamlessly fly though warehouses, scanning inventory and constantly keeping managers up to date. The result is improved accuracy and efficiency at lower costs.

AIMS transforms the traditional inventory cycle counting process with autonomous drones and cloud analytics software. Soon the high labor cost, human error and occupational hazard of workers manually scanning boxes throughout warehouses will be a thing of the past.

The American wholesale distribution company Graybar is the first to deploy this solution in its warehouses, having just signed an inaugural commercial contract with Nokia.

“Supply chain innovation is vital to our long-term success,” said Mark Hirst, Graybar’s VP Technology. “Very few technologies can simultaneously boost performance while reducing costs, but we believe AIMS can deliver both.”  

Graybar is a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest distributors of electrical, communications and data networking products in the United States.

Graybar has also purchased Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) to help improve the connectivity in its warehouses. Its first installation will be in Graybar’s St. Louis Service Center, with possible expansion to additional warehouses in the future.

The attracting, retaining and accuracy of human labor is one of the biggest pain points for warehouse operators. Detailed, up-to-date inventory analytics can reduce low-value manual labor and transform productivity and efficiency.

Once AIMS is deployed, it looks to provide an improvement to Graybar’s inventory management costs and efficiencies by at least ten times over – and solve the potential peril of human safety issues in large-scale warehouses.

“Traditional warehouse inventory counting is manual, inefficient and prone to human error,” explained Paul Heitlinger, Nokia AIMS general manager. “Nokia AIMS helps customers such as Graybar improve overall efficiency with an expected 30-40 percent return on investment.”

The culmination of years of Nokia Bell Labs research, AIMS represents the fusion of AI-enabled drone-based hardware, camera-based indoor localization, data analytics and computer vision. It brings together barcode scanning and drone autonomy technology into one seamless warehouse management service.

AIMS can be used to improve service levels for warehouse operators, distributors, third party logistics, equipment manufacturers, retail and grocers.

From vertical farming to warehouse inventory management

AIMS got its start in the world of vertical farming, with Nokia partnering with AeroFarms to monitor its high-tech, indoor farms. The Nokia Bell Labs innovation provided continuous monitoring of the growth of millions of plants. Drones peeked into the most inaccessible nooks of a vertical farming tower, covering far more ground at a far faster pace than any human.

AIMS is now setting its sights on also upending the warehouse industry. It offers multiple avenues of industrial value, from reduction in salaries for unnecessary work to fewer management overheads, and fewer worker injuries and compensation.

AIMS’ user-friendly interface allows customers to get a daily snapshot of their inventory so users can locate missing inventory and see historical data.

It all adds up to a new world in efficient warehouse management solutions.