Warehouse Automation Explained

April 28, 2022

We can see an increased interest in automated warehouse devices, but we don’t know a lot of answers to the questions such as “What is warehouse automation really?” and “How can we benefit from it?”

Speedrack will help you better understand how large e-commerce companies use it to control inventory and boost sales. With our help, you’ll also be able to identify if an automated solution is right for your company.

What is warehouse automation?

Warehouse automation is a way to cut costs and streamline operations. It uses robotics, conveyor belts, and other technology to move inventory into, within, and out of storage facilities. This means that manual labour like walking throughout the warehouse and using hand trucks to bring boxes to the shipping dock is eliminated. For example, a business might choose to automate its warehouse to increase production.

Types of warehouse automation

Warehouse automation can be automated in many different ways, from robotic operations like picking and scanning to the use of vehicle fleets. So many possibilities make automation one of the best ways to improve your bottom line. The most common types of automation are explored below:

1. Goods to person technologies (GTP)- Goods-to-Person (GTP) technologies are part of a new breed of “picking solutions” that bring items to the person doing the picking, rather than requiring the person to travel to the things. GTP systems take their pick lists from a central database, and then automated equipment, like robots and conveyors, locates the items in the warehouse and delivers them to a picking area where they are picked by hand. Companies that leverage GTP technologies can reduce operating and order fulfilment costs and improve service levels. By bringing items to the worker, rather than requiring workers to travel to the things that need to be picked, GTP technologies make picking solutions more efficient and easier for workers.

2. Automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) – Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) is one of the most efficient types of GTP technology available today. This system automatically places items in and retrieves them from storage without warehouse workers needed to handle those goods – minimising labour and maximising efficiency. Warehouses using AS/RS systems are much more efficient than warehouses without them. The warehouse software organises and makes data available, but it also communicates directly with the AS/RS systems to coordinate workflow. As a result, a warehouse can grow with demand and process orders with a smaller staff.

3. Pick to light systems- The pick-to-light systems provide companies with a highly reliable, cost-effective solution for automating order picking and putaway applications. The pick-to-light systems eliminate the integration of moving parts such as conveyors and carousels, further reducing operating costs with the help of illumination.

4. Autonomous mobile robots (AMR)- Fully autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are widely deployed and used globally in the e-commerce sector. Mobile autonomous robots help improve the overall efficiency of warehouse operations and reduce labour costs by automating repetitive tasks. Additionally, today’s generation of AMRs allows for deeper analytics and data collection for better warehouse decision-making. Furthermore, these robots are plug-and-play, allowing for rapid and easy deployment.

Benefits of warehouse automation

When implementing an automated warehouse, one of the first benefits that you’ll realise is a reduction of manual errors. Studies show that when you multiply 1%-3% error rate by error cost, you realise how significant its impact is on your company’s profits.

Other benefits are discussed below:

1. Increase in speed- Warehouse automation increases the rate of warehousing operations. The most effective warehouse automation systems include robots and conveyors to optimise retrieval processes. These systems facilitate free overnight shipping by speeding up order-fulfilment times. At the same time, warehouse automation speeds up inventory management processes through the automatic counting of items.

2. Space maximisation- Warehouse automation systems use robots, automated guided vehicles and other devices that utilise space more efficiently than traditional warehouse design. The systems use conveyors and lifters to move products where they can be retrieved or stored. This reduces the amount of space needed for aisles, making it possible to store more merchandise in the same amount of space.

3. Enhanced inventory count- Automated warehouse systems can help reduce human error in the inventory management process, increasing the accuracy of inventory counts and related data.

4. Better safety- Using warehouse automation systems, workers do not need to walk about the facility searching for products. Instead, workers are freed to perform other tasks that help improve warehouse efficiency and worker safety. This reduces product damage and can dramatically increase the speed of completing shipments.

Reach out to your warehouse service provider, and discuss about getting automations for your storage house now!