From Sorting to Software, Automation Increases Accuracy and Efficiency
As material handling technology advances, it becomes clearer and clearer that warehouses and DCs must continue to automate in order to remain efficient and financially sustainable. While the challenges and solutions are different for every warehouse and DC, a thoughtful and careful analysis will identify the right path toward increased automation for your organization.
Warehouse automation is simply the application of equipment or software to achieve greater efficiency. Logically, there is a break-even point at which a particular solution becomes cost-effective. The analysis of operational data helps determine which systems are optimal for each unique scenario.
Warehouse management system (WMS) software is foundational to optimizing inventory and fulfillment processes. This software collects real-time data across all connected systems to deliver accurate inventory numbers and troubleshoot bottlenecks.
Of course, automation is not infallible, and data should be properly front-end loaded to ensure best results. If solutions are implemented without sufficient engineering, planning and implementation, disappointment may follow.
Material Handling Solutions
Once you’ve identified areas in need of help in the physical space of your storage or fulfillment operations, you can compare various automated material handling solutions.
Goods-to-person automation not only increases efficiency, but also can maximize available space and optimize product flow. Racking and shelving can be enhanced with motorized conveyors, automated carousels and vertical lift modules. Classic racks can be upgraded to mobile pallet storage systems. Automated picking systems can work in tandem with human operators. Sliding-shoe, cross-belt and bomb-bay automated sortation systems are incredibly fast and efficient, and can be utilized to speed up fulfillment. Automated guided vehicles can transport loads between multiple loading and unloading points.
The benefits of automation can be significant. Take the example of automated picking systems. Not only does implementing such a system reduce operator walking time by shortening picking routes—efficiency can skyrocket. In fact, MHI reports 30% to 50% increases in pick-rate productivity and 99.9+% accuracy rates for pick-to-light picking systems. And another study found 67% fewer errors when compared to manual picking systems.
Why Warehouse Automation is Even More Important Today
In addition, automation has many benefits for warehouses and DCs that are most suited to our evolving economy:
- Reduce the amount of labor required while making tasks easier for human operators by enhancing ergonomics and decreasing the potential for accidents.
- Cut excesses while facilitating better product control through improved inventory management.
- Lower overall handling costs in manufacturing, distribution and transportation once ROI is realized.
- Improve inventory management and the accuracy of information through real-time monitoring.
Let’s Talk About Automation Solutions
To talk about WMS software, automation and other material handling solutions to make your company more profitable, contact AEC today.