Vimaan: solving warehouse inventory chaos automation

KG Ganapathi, CEO and Founder of Vimaan, the AI warehouse inventory company, on his company’s growth, automation software and plans for the future

Tell me about Vimaan, your role and your responsibilities there?

Vimaan is a Computer Vision company whose mission is to provide comprehensive, near real-time inventory visibility in warehouses and fulfilment centres.  I am the Founder and CEO of the company.

How does Vimaan utilise AI?

Vimaan utilises a sophisticated sensor and camera suite positioned and mounted strategically across the warehouse – both at stationary locations as well as on mobile equipment and robots to capture information from the warehouse environment.  We then use our machine learning and localisation algorithms to extract relevant information from this data, including inventory location, workflow process, inventory details such as barcodes and human-readable text such as quantity, SKU, expiry dates; other visual features such as dimensions, damage, etc..  Finally, we then merge this data and contextualise it against the warehouse database to identify discrepancies as well as provide richer information regarding the inventory.  

Talk me through your emergence from stealth mode to conquer the warehouse inventory chaos.

Vimaan was in stealth for over four years.  During this time, we got to understand the problems commonly faced by customers across the supply chain that related to warehouse inventory management, and the associated wastage and costs.  We systematically broke these problems down by workflow (incoming, receiving, put away, storage, pick, pack and ship), and then further developed a platform of technologies to address these issues and provide the customer with far greater accuracy at a much lower cost.  In addition, we penetrated several Fortune 500 customers in this space, and proved not just the capability but also the value, and have now entered full production at many of these facilities.  Once we had built confidence in our solution and traction in the marketplace, we decided to come out of stealth.  In the meantime, of course, we also were successful at raising venture capital from top tier Silicon Valley VC firms

How do your customers benefit from your automation technology?

One of the challenges in the warehousing space is the trade off between inventory accuracy and the costs needed to achieve that accuracy.  Accuracy is very important because it ensures that workers that pick products from locations to fulfil orders are as productive as possible, not spending their time looking for items and that trucks are not parked at shipping docks, waiting for orders to be filled. Similarly, the cost of fulfilling an order incorrectly is also very high because of the returns, charge backs and excessive reverse logistics costs involved. Often, when warehouses are collocated with an assembly or manufacturing line and tasked with feeding components to the line in a Just In Time manner, inaccuracies in inventory can result in line stoppages because the correct item was not found in time.

But historically, achieving and maintaining this accuracy has been very expensive, because it requires an inordinate amount of quality audits and inventory control-related labour.  Our technology addresses this trade off: A warehouse manager no longer has to choose between high inventory auditing costs and high accuracy. Our automated systems enable practically 100% accuracy with almost no labour involvement 

What can we expect from Vimaan and its use of AI technology in the future?

Computer vision in supply chains is still in its infancy.  There is a tremendous opportunity to increase visibility, reduce costs, reduce waste and make logistics operations much more efficient. We believe that more distribution centres and fulfilment centres will adopt technology like this in the future, and it will become a standard offering to track and maintain inventory accuracy, quality and visibility. 

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