Many warehouse processes are now more efficient thanks to technology. Automating manual, repetitive tasks can be helpful in certain cases. This allows associates to concentrate on more difficult tasks. There are many types of warehouse automation, including robots and machines.
These tools aid inventory workers in all aspects of inventory management, from their arrival at the warehouse to their departure. Warehouse automation solutions can be leveraged to increase productivity, accuracy, labor costs, and safety.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that robots will take over or steal jobs from humans. Instead, companies are leveraging the accuracy of machines and their ability to work continuously for long periods of time without fatigue to make warehouse tasks safer, more efficient, and safer.
Although warehouse automation systems can automate everything, humans still play an important role in the process. Let’s look at the different types of warehouse automation, How warehouse automation works, and what the main benefits are for warehouses that implement automation technology.
Types of warehouse automation
Warehouse automation encompasses many technologies that aid human workers and handle tasks from beginning to end. Warehouses are complex operations that manage a range of tasks and processes to distribute goods and manage inventory.
There are many warehouse automation solutions that can be used to improve the efficiency of your warehouse.
Goods to Person (GTP) solutions often involve robots or machines that transport materials to workers for assembly and packing. You may see it using cranes or vehicles that move around the warehouse to pick up materials. GTP also includes automated storage, retrieval, and retrieval solutions as well as conveyor systems.
- Automated storage systems and retrieval systems: The bulk of warehouse automation is represented by automated storage and retrieval services (AS/RS). AS/RS is a type of GTP technology that uses vehicles, cranes, and carousels to transport items through a warehouse and store them in warehouse storage locations.
- Conveyor systems: Conveyors are among the oldest technologies for warehouse automation. Conveyors are used to moving material along or around assembly lines. They can move inventory from work areas like packaging, shipping, and sorting areas. GTP technology also includes conveyor systems.
Pick to-light systems to make use of barcodes and LED lights in order to assist workers in locating the right items to fulfill orders. Pick-to-light systems increase productivity and reduce walking by allowing pickers to locate the correct items more quickly.
Voice tasking and voice picking
Voice picking and voice tasking solutions are an extension of a warehouse order picker’s daily routine. To coordinate movement and picking tasks, taskers and pickers communicate often using wireless headsets.
Sortation systems direct items to the right places or to the correct bins using various technologies. These technologies identify and separate items and direct them to certain locations for returns processing or to the packing stations. More information on sortation is available here
Collaborative mobile robots
The collaborative mobile robots are designed to work with humans and improve picking accuracy and productivity. They guide their associates through the picking process. Some mobile robots can be collaborative. They optimize picking routes and tasks according to warehouse status and priority. Collaboration with mobile robots has many benefits. They offer flexibility, reliability, and scalability. They also reduce walking time and increase productivity. What’s a pick-and-place robot?
Although drones can be considered robots technically, they lack sophisticated onboard computers. Drones can be used to manage inventory. They are equipped with barcode scanners that allow for inventory counts and alert warehouse staff of products that need restocking. Some warehouse automation companies are also exploring drones for delivery.
How warehouse automation works
Automation in warehousing can be used in any situation as a means to complete repetitive and tedious tasks using less human labor. It is tedious to try and put 1000 pairs of the same shoe into one box. Automating the task is possible by using automation technology this saves people hours of tedious work and allows them to spend their time on more difficult tasks. Automation can be beneficial for any task that is repetitive.
Modern technology, such as drones and machine learning, makes warehouse automation possible. This allows for multiple tasks to be completed and more complex work to be performed. Automation was a term that used to refer to a conveyor belt or machine at a fixed place doing the same thing repeatedly. Engineers had to predict their greatest volume requirements in order to design solutions.
This made automation more expensive than necessary if the actual volume was not what they expected. Modern warehouse automation solutions often use robots and cranes capable of performing a variety of simple and more complex tasks. They can also be deployed according to operational needs. Some automation solutions, such as collaborative mobile robots, use AI and machine learning to optimize tasks in real-time based on warehouse conditions or work priorities.
Benefits of warehouse automation
A comprehensive automated warehouse management system has many benefits. Modern warehouse automation technologies can be more flexible and scalable than older solutions such as conveyors that are heavy and locked in place. Warehouse managers can rent additional robots during peak seasons to meet increased demand and return them when normal demand returns. Because collaborative mobile robots don’t need infrastructure changes like conveyor systems, they are easier to put in. Warehouse automation also has other benefits:
- Higher productivity
- Worker fatigue and strain are less
- Satisfaction of workers has improved
- Lesser injuries
- Lower operating costs
- Accuracy increases
- Shipping mistakes are less frequent
Warehouse automation also offers space optimization. This allows warehouses to optimize their vertical space by placing items at higher locations that are difficult to reach for humans or forklifts. Warehouses can make more cubic feet by making it easier for cranes, drones, and other AS/RS solutions to reach these higher storage locations.
Warehouse automation solutions can be a smart financial investment. They will save warehouse money, reduce errors, fewer injuries, and increase productivity. Flexible warehouse automation systems can be cost-effective and provide a quicker ROI than older, less flexible technologies.