When a warehouse or distribution center that houses different processes and products is managed, being operationally efficient means greater profitability. To be more profitable, department stores of large companies already begin to integrate in their processes the automation of tasks through technologies and specialised software.
One of the objectives of automating a warehouse is to expedite the operations of receiving, processing, inventorying and shipping the goods to achieve an effective distribution and with less return margins. All this requires that the storage concept be completely rethought, ceasing to be a place of shelter, loading and unloading, to one with a new design in its infrastructure and planogram, equipped with the most advanced technology in logistics.
Little by little we see how some technological storage solutions begin to change the environment and the way of working in the distribution centers, speeding up the passage of goods through these facilities.
These technologies vary, from robotic equipment for handling goods, to specialized software for better inventory management. Keep in mind that here at SAM Technology you will find what you need in order to take operations to a whole new level and increase productivity.
When to automate warehouse activities?
The decision to have an automated warehouse should not only be based on financial considerations, but also on aspects that directly impact its operation.
The cost of installing the equipment and software required for automation is justified when:
- The movement and volume of goods is high.
- Varied products are managed.
- Orders are prepared or consolidated charges that require sorting and ordering products.
- It seeks to optimize the process to reduce costs.
- It is necessary to maximize the use of space with vertical solutions.
- You want to keep a more precise inventory control that allows you to apply just in time logistics.
- It is estimated that the return on investment can be achieved in less than four years.
What benefits does it bring to the logistics activity?
In the end, what is intended when introducing automation in warehouses is greater efficiency and effectiveness. Among the benefits that can also be achieved are:
- Continuous operations are not limited to the schedule and capacity of the staff.
- Reduction of labor costs by requiring fewer employees to carry out the activities.
- Less accidents and health incidents, as well as safer working conditions for operators and warehouse employees.
- Exact knowledge of inventory levels so as not to fall short of supplies, excess stock or obsolescence of merchandise.
- Optimization of warehouse space by applying vertical systems of great height.
- Reduction in maintenance costs due to the reduction of incidents that result in damage to goods or structures.
- Greater security and less pollution of the cargo because it is not exposed to human manipulation.
- Elimination of human errors in the documentation that can mean delays in the processing of the merchandise.
Improvement in time and accuracy of deliveries
Better level of specialization and training of the workforce, which offers more professional services, which makes it more efficient and productive.
What are AS / RS systems?
As part of the changes in the operability of the warehouses, systems based on the new technologies are also being introduced, among them the Automated Storage / Retrieval System, or AS / RS; which consists in the automation of loading, sorting, storage and shipping processes through the use of robotic equipment and management software.
With this automated collection and storage system, the need for labor is reduced and productivity and efficiency are raised, as it can operate constantly to ensure that work is done on time and is well done.
The concept behind the system is that it is not about the employee picking up and loading the product, but that robotic forklifts and automated sorting and distribution belts bring the goods closer to the worker in the boarding area.
This saves time and generates less fatigue in employees, which makes them more efficient and allows them to focus their efforts on other activities that result in increased productivity.
What are the available technological solutions?
Some technological solutions have already been implemented in the market and others are still in the process of being part of the infrastructure of a warehouse. Among these technologies to improve efficiency are:
Management and control software
The first one records the entrance of the load, assigns it a location and tracks it until its exit, while the second controls the movements of the robotic equipment.
The use of both enables the best use of storage space, guarantees the reliability of the data on the goods and facilitates the handling and traceability of the products.
It is the automated equipment responsible for locating and removing the goods from the storage shelves.
They are the basis of the AS / RS system and are robotic cranes that are installed in the aisles between shelves to collect and move the load between the headers and the space that has been assigned, and vice versa.
In addition to the fact that their low width makes it possible to place the shelves closer to each other, these automated forklifts can travel great distances and rise to enormous height, which makes them useful for using the storage space to the fullest.
Pick to Light, or PTL
For the assortment of orders consisting of different items, nothing more useful than this light-guided system consisting of a display on the shelves that is lit to indicate the item to be stocked and the quantity thereof.
It can be used both in “pick” mode, which is to select the item from a fixed place to place it on a traveling tray, such as “put”, which is to take it from that box in transit to relocate it to a fixed position.
As the employee presses a button to confirm that the action has been performed, the system automatically synchronizes the stock level, so the inventory is always updated.
It is preferably used for the collection of high or medium turnover products, and offers high accuracy and orderly inventory management. In addition to raising productivity by more than 50 percent, they improve customer service, since the elimination of errors generates fewer returns and, therefore, costs.
Pick to Voice, or PTV
It is a variant of the previous system, but instead of using a bright display, the selection of orders is guided by voice.
In this case, the employee follows orders that he receives through headphones and, when using a microphone headband, has his hands free to handle the items carefully.
It also offers the reduction of human errors and time savings by facilitating inventory management.
These are only some of the benefits you would get from an automated warehouse system. Here at SAM Technology Engineers our professionals are ready to assist you and help you with this automation process.