“I’ve seen firsthand the challenges that warehouses face in terms of productivity and efficiency,” says Jeff Lem, the president of Portable Intelligence. He’s also someone with 30-plus years of experience in the supply chain industry.
“Despite advancements in technology, barcoding and wireless are still the predominant technologies being used to manage warehouses and, as a result, siloed workers are going about their day largely unsupervised, relying on tribal knowledge and experience to complete their assigned tasks. This has led to large gaps in productivity between tenured workers, new employees, and temporary staff.”
In 2015, he realized the solution to the problem was to merge human and machine efforts to bridge the productivity gap. The end result is Portable Intelligence, a revolutionary company that’s helping businesses who manage inventory get complete visibility of their stock all while creating warehouse optimization without extra space and labour.
It can do this through their task management solution TED™, which stands for Task Engine Distributor. TED's unique selling point is its use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and location management to enhance warehouse task management; it can optimize workflow through real-time labour tracking, perform inventory management, and assign tasks based on business needs. Basically, TED™ is the missing link in warehouse efficiency.
The system is able to recognize and anticipate when a task should be created and to whom those tasks should be allocated - allowing for a more enhanced workflow in the warehouse. And, as warehouses onboard autonomous mobile robots, TED can be extended to synchronize the tasks of people with automated vehicles. Finally, TED is backward compatible with existing ERP systems and technologies such as barcoding, voice picking, and wireless, making it a truly comprehensive solution for warehouse optimization.
“The biggest challenge we’re trying to solve is getting warehouse workers, who are generally free spirits, to accept being told what and when to do their tasks,” Jeff says. “While they still largely control the 'how' of tasks, under this new paradigm, their efforts will be synchronized with other workers and the facility in general. Their work will no longer be done in isolation but rather as part of a larger group effort.”
The next big goals for Portable Intelligence are to make task management as ubiquitous as barcoding, to continue to revolutionize the industry, and make warehouse processes more efficient, productive, and profitable for all involved.
To help them grow their business, Jeff says he jumped at the chance to join ventureLAB’s latest Accelerate AI cohort. The program helps entrepreneurs like Jeff expand their AI-based, supply chain-focused startup.
“VentureLAB has provided much-needed access to advisors and testing space,” he says. “The additional space allowed us to better simulate a warehousing environment, thus we were able to fully test and build our prototypes before going to market. They also have a wealth of resources, including mentorship, networking opportunities, and access to funding and support that I knew would be invaluable for Portable Intelligence as we continue to grow and scale our business.”
He says his advice for entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own company is to, first and foremost, believe in their idea and be passionate about it. Secondly, develop a deep understanding of your target customer - what are their pain points and how you’re going to solve those problems. And try not to do everything yourself, focus on what you’re good at and delegate, if you can, the rest.
“Apply for programs or resources and join peer groups – share and learn from others. Finally, your entrepreneurial journey is a marathon – changing an industry often takes longer than expected,” he notes.
“Our mission at Portable Intelligence is to make customers’ lives better. Warehouses are under a lot of pressure these days to perform – the expectation is on time delivery with 100 per cent order accuracy – little to no room for error,” he says. “Little wonder there is a lot of turnover and it's hard to hire warehouse workers. For us, it’s more about how do we help a warehouse re-engage workers and remove the friction around delivering customer satisfaction? [We believe] the only way to do this is through task management.”
Led by our seasoned expert Advisors and business leaders Garry Chan and Krishna Vempati, this free comprehensive 6-month program will propel Accelerate AI companies to solve the modern-day challenges of the supply chain industry by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning into their established product offerings. We are excited to watch the immense growth of these companies as they tackle some of the most challenging entrepreneurial hurdles in technology today.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 5,000 jobs and raise more than $340 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.