Microsoft believes that manual tasks such as picking and packing account for the majority of labor costs in warehousing operations. In order to help cut down on these costs and optimize the flow of products, the tech giant has now announced a preview of Lenovo's Digital Distribution Center (DDC) solution, in collaboration with Nvidia. This move is Microsoft's latest step in its previously announced partnership with both the aforementioned companies to help bring advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to Azure IoT Edge.
DDC is an IoT solution that helps utilize distribution centers to their full extent, enabling the optimization of retail, manufacturing, and logistical operations through real-time scalable package detection, validation, and more. AI and ML inferencing is used in multi-video stream analytics, improving the solution over time through self-learning. Since DDCs are built using the Azure IoT Central platform, they are also said to be simple to set up, allowing solution adopters to focus less on the operations and management surrounding a global IoT solution. Lenovo and Nvidia have been noted as the key components behind the addition of "unique value" to industry-relevant solutions like this.
Microsoft is previewing the solution at its Inspire 2019 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tech giant announced a number of new products and investments ahead of the event, including upcoming features for Teams, a new migration program for Azure, and more. It also reversed its decision to take internal usage rights away from partners, given the negative feedback against the move.
DDC releases in the future will be adding features like geofencing alerts, palletization, depalletization, and last-mile sorting. You can observe a demo of the solution in its current form at the Microsoft partner booth during its ongoing Inspire 2019 conference, set to end on July 18. If you're interested in joining the preview program, you can contact Lenovo at IoTSolutions@lenovo.com.