Exploring the future of technology and warehouse operations with Robert Kriewaldt

Robert Kriewaldt is Senior Vice President for Phoenix Logistics, a 3PL that offers warehousing, distribution, and transportation support across multiple industries. Robert has worked in the logistics industry for over 25 years, and has been able to evaluate and implement a number of technology systems. OneTrack recently sat down with Robert to explore where technology can have an immediate impact in warehouses today.

What opportunities do you see for technology in warehouses today?

The biggest opportunity I see is for simple things. There are obvious ones, like using APIs to exchange information with other companies instead of phone calls and spreadsheets. But there are also many that are overlooked.

A great example of that is checklists. So many warehouses still do important checklists on paper, for everything from food safety protocols to inspections of material handling equipment. A quick win is to digitize these checklists. Digitizing checklists can drastically improve compliance because managers are alerted whenever a checklist is not completed, or if any issues are reported during the check. Those digital checklists can also be easily retrieved for reporting to OSHA or other agencies.

That makes sense for warehouses who are looking for some quick wins. What about those who want to explore more advanced technologies?

A few things come to mind for me. The first is Artificial Intelligence. AI has been a buzzword forever, but now there are real solutions that are beginning to deliver value in many different areas.

A second thing is the easy availability of rich data. In our food logistics business, we can track the temperature of every parcel and ensure it is within safe food handling guidelines at all times. If any parcel has a higher than expected temperature reading, we are immediately notified. This helps us ensure our operations are always within the guidelines we set out for them.

Let’s dig into Artificial Intelligence some more. What are some ways AI can improve efficiency in warehouses?

Artificial Intelligence is a great asset for improving efficiency because it enhances warehouse employee decision making. For example, AI can integrate with your warehouse management system and over time provide more optimal routing for material handling equipment or suggest more efficient inventory storage locations

As AI systems learn your operations, they can start predicting demand, allowing you to better coordinate labor and equipment for the highest possible throughput at the lowest cost.

What else can Artificial Intelligence do?

Another big area for AI is in safety. Safety is always the number one priority in any warehouse, so it makes sense that technological developments and investments should focus on it. AI can detect unsafe conditions or behaviors before humans can. For example, is a forklift operator showing aggressive driving patterns? Do those operators have higher accident rates? AI can answer those questions and set up proactive alerting to prevent safety incidents before they occur.

How can warehouses start incorporating Artificial Intelligence in to their processes? What is the first step?

The first step is to take a look at your organizational priorities for the year. Are they in safety, productivity, customer service, or something else? Then look for specific AI solutions in those high priority areas. Because AI is a newer field, you may not be aware of all the different solutions that are out there. Talk with different vendors and figure out if their offerings can improve your goals. If you move forward to a pilot or install, be sure to set clear KPIs and measure them consistently so you can evaluate how the AI technology is improving your organization.

As Senior Vice President for Phoenix Logistics, Mr. Kriewaldt oversees the company's day-to-day operations as well as corporate strategic development. With more than 25 years of experience in the industrial real estate and logistics industries, Mr. Kriewaldt boasts extensive expertise in real estate practices as well as third-party logistics operations, contract negotiation, and new business development. Mr. Kriewaldt proudly fosters long-lasting business relationships by putting the customer first and creating mutually-beneficial partnerships for all involved. He also holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Texas & a Juris Doctorate degree from Marquette University.