A Step by Step Guide to Loading Dock Automation
| Kargo | 8 min
What You Need to Know
A recent survey by global consultant SCALA reveals that 69% of respondents plan to invest at least $1 million in warehouse automation between now and 2028. Nearly a quarter (23%) plan to invest approximately $25 million or more.
By extending automation to loading docks, your warehouses achieve better efficiency and accuracy at crucial entry and exit points, while contributing to a safer work environment.
For many companies, loading docks present gaps in supply chain visibility. But there are literal truckloads of data passing your docks everyday.
With Kargo, computer vision automatically captures shipment information and loading dock activity to create a new source of data that you can use to improve your logistics processes.
Freight label information, bar codes, or other data elements on pallets are compared against bills of lading to verify shipment accuracy, flag discrepancies, and update inventory in real time.
Plus, by expanding common definitions of data to include visuals, Kargo offers contextual understanding of your operations. Explore efficiency ratings by dock door, track safety violations via AI identification, or see exactly what happened in the warehouse to resolve a damage claim.
Companies that don’t have access to this data are already falling behind. As automation expands, the gap between which companies are innovating and which are stagnating will only get wider.
The good news is that automating your loading docks may be easier than you think - and the benefits can accrue quickly.
Here are some of the ways you can streamline operations:
- Eliminate manual scanning during loading and unloading to limit risk of human errors and increase productivity.
- Verify actual shipments against bills of lading and other documents automatically for improved accuracy and shorter dwell times.
- Flag damages and discrepancies in real time, before downstream customer impact becomes more costly for everyone.
- Update existing inventory systems in real time, so your network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distribution centers can assure product supply.
- Access video evidence of all dock activity to resolve issues with complete accuracy and transparency, while building trust with customers.
- Provide actionable data to drive continuous improvements across loading dock activity, shipment accuracy, warehouse throughput, logistics networks, trucking partnerships, and customer satisfaction.
Bringing these benefits to your supply chain and logistics can happen in a matter of weeks.
In this guide, we tell you what to expect as you ramp up automation.
Any questions as you review? Email us at email@example.com
When you start exploring loading dock automation, we connect on your needs and how you deliver on your customers’ needs.
The main point of discovery is to determine how automation can drive revenue based on your company’s unique position in supply chain and logistics.
- We explore how computer vision solves common industry challenges and closes gaps other technology can’t.
- We review ways to empower greater accuracy and productivity, so you can capture greater market share.
- We examine partner benchmarking and determine customer service opportunities to build stronger relationships.
- We discuss how to tackle other big industry changes ahead, so you can be a leading voice at your organization.
When you’ve finalized your decision to move forward, we visit you onsite to develop your onboarding strategy.
- We create current and future state maps of your operations, so you have a clear understanding of how Kargo improves workflows.
- We align on milestone commitments with timelines that support progress expectations.
- We perform constellation mapping of your label requirements to ensure capture of data attributes that matter to your business.
When this stage is complete, your company has a clear set of automation goals and a plan to achieve them.
Kargo Towers are installed in warehouses by a Tower technician and electrician crew. Our team takes care of the labor. You’ll just need to clear the dock area ahead of time.
Once the Towers are up and running, our remote team finalizes software installation, activating your Towers for immediate and ongoing use.
When this step is complete, your loading docks are officially able to capture and translate data automatically.
Your data is available in the Kargo Platform, where you can manage shipments and analyze trends for continuous improvements.
On the first day of installation, Kargo coordinates with your warehouse manager to confirm loading dock and electrical panel access, plus any other details specific to your scenario.
In some cases, a technician comes out the day before installation begins to pre-drill anchor holes. This can help with speed and efficiency.
Each Kargo Tower gets its own dedicated electric circuit. Electricians install 120-volt panel switches, while Tower techs stand up the Towers, using a forklift and rigging, before anchoring them into place.
If your warehouse needs additional electrical work, like transformer and panel upgrades, we work with you to ensure this is done before or during installation.
As each Tower goes up, electricians hardwire them individually, turning them on for the first time and testing them for readiness.
With the Towers turned on, Kargo’s software team takes over remotely.
Before Tower installation, we’ve already done things like create your facility pages, configure dock doors, and populate orders.
Now, we perform quality assurance checks for connectivity, making sure data uploads as expected.
Tower technicians stay onsite while software engineers work, so that if anything needs to be adjusted, you have full support available.
When installation is complete, some Kargo users like to do an informal unveiling. Grab your staff for a quick reveal and peel the film off the Towers. It can be pretty satisfying.
The next step in loading dock automation is integration of Kargo data with your existing systems.
Full integration with Kargo achieves the fastest possible data capture and delivery, real-time exception or error flagging, and network-related decision making.
- Manage verified data and access visual proof on the Kargo Platform
- Share manifest data with Kargo automatically via API or email
- Receive real-time data from Kargo to your logistics platforms
Kargo can connect to any enterprise resource planning (ERP) software or warehouse, transport, or yard management system (WMS, TMS, YMS). We work with your IT team so they can connect Kargo and your existing systems via API or EDI.
There may be some customers who prefer to perform full integration at a later phase of implementation. In these cases, you would onboard Kargo as a partially integrated solution, exploring how automation can provide returns at massive scale.
When it’s time to transition your operations, Kargo provides your company with several days of onsite training. This stage is when we connect with key stakeholders and staff who will work directly with Kargo.
We review how Kargo works, spotlighting features that matter in the warehouse:
- Automated data capture as freight enters and exits warehouses
- Visual indicators on Towers that flag pallet damages or discrepancies
- AI-based safety monitoring that tracks safety compliance
If your company opts to include Kargo Forklift Cameras, we show your team how to attach camera packs to the forklifts for more complete visibility of pallets and the warehouse environment.
In the office, we train managers and other leaders on the Kargo Platform and make sure you’re fully proficient working with your loading dock data.
At this stage, we begin in-depth conversations around how to make your data most impactful to your company’s objectives. These conversations inform how Kargo can support you long-term.
A few weeks after initial training, we follow up with another onsite visit or a virtual check-in with operational stakeholders.
Now that your team is more familiar using Kargo, the focus shifts to optimizing automation for greater impact to your key performance indicators. You may also want to onboard additional users.
- We look at your data, discover trends and opportunities, review integrations between Kargo and your other platforms, and align on progress expectations.
- We also set up specialized features, like automatic email reports by shift and dock. This lets workers focus on what is relevant to their performance.
During training and optimization periods, you’ll have ongoing access to support.
Kargo is here for you for the lifetime of our relationship. We include predictive maintenance of Kargo Towers and software updates when applicable.
Typically, we send a Tower technician to your sites approximately every six months. The technician checks your Kargo Towers, including camera lenses and air filters, to ensure everything is functioning as expected.
Regular operational syncs between your team and Kargo support continuous improvements, better use of data, and roadmapping for the future.
Depending on your goals, you may see returns on your automation investments quickly.
- As measurable results emerge, many clients choose to expand automation to additional facilities.
- With more of your loading docks connected, logistics networks gain agility that can drive additional returns.
- Returns at the network level can be reinvested in end-to-end automation strategies or other growth opportunities, like new geographies.
Throughout your growth cycles, Kargo can advise on new ways to leverage loading dock automation.
With industry automation increasing, shippers and 3PLs can stay ahead of the curve by automating loading docks now.
Implementation with Kargo is easy, predictable, and quick to deliver returns. Our team is here to help you do more with your logistics.
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