A Complete Guide to Warehouse Automation

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Aug 5 2022
Jpnovations Solutions

Pressure!! Itís one of the biggest issues that warehouse managers face on a daily basis. Not only are they expected to streamline storage and organization year after year (which means keeping up with the current demand but also adapting to changes such as a wider range of products) - but they must ensure that everything runs smoothly at all times.

Guide to warehouse automation

Otherwise, it could mean wasting too much time and money on unnecessary shipments/stock rotations or worse - even losses due to theft or damage. 

Of course, this can be incredibly disheartening for any professional involved in logistics, which is why warehouses today still need to implement new strategies when it comes down to improving efficiencies, reducing costs, maximizing productivity, and the like – especially when some companies choose to automate processes through systems such as appropriate warehouse automation systems.

 

For example, a warehouse worker loads an autonomous mobile robot with heavy packages. 

This robot is most commonly used to move inventory from one end of the warehouse to another or from storage shelves and racks to designated shipping zones. It may be easier for workers specializing in shipping tasks to grab and pack the order for the customer without moving around heavy pallets and boxes.

Robots that help out in warehouses are also able almost effortlessly to move items by allowing things to be piled on top of each other - which saves time when there’s no forklift available. 

Tasks such as these allow humans to do other things, such as inspecting parts on assembly lines or performing other repetitive physical functions while supervised by industrial robots!

 

Warehouse Automation comes in two parts: Digital Automation and Physical Automation.

You can use digital automation to digitize manual processes and make them more efficient. This can be used to collect information directly via the internet or with a WiFi-enabled device. It can also help you develop business websites and apps for customers that deliver their specific products.

 For example, a food delivery service offering pizza using GPS tracking to find out what is closest for delivery on demand.

 

Warehouse Automation using mobile barcode software helps to streamline workflow for inventory handling operators. This can be easily accomplished with barcode software, wireless barcode scanners, and data management platforms that are used in conjunction to automate key processes. It can be integrated with a warehouse’s existing IT framework or deployed as a standalone mobile application.

How Does Warehouse Automation Work?

Warehouse automation solutions aim to streamline operations in your facilities by using software and technology. 

These “smart” devices include robotic arms, sensors, and other systems that help capture data, manage inventory, and ensure that business-critical tasks are completed efficiently. 

These devices typically operate in conjunction with existing tools such as warehouse management systems (WMS). In addition, warehouse automation solutions require a comprehensive supply chain system (e.g., ERP) that integrates all functions across the enterprise so that communication is fast, visual, and reliable.

 

Why Do You Need Warehouse Automation?

Driven by demographics and a need to increase throughput, supply lines worldwide are experiencing deep strain. 

Automation is an indispensable factor in the warehousing industry since it supports multiple key processes that boost efficiency and keep customers happy. 

From reducing costs of unnecessary activities such as repetitive operations to supporting optimized pick & place actions, warehouse automation can reduce high labor costs and elevate accuracy while managing low-value tasks such as inventory movements into holding areas within close proximity of pick pallets.

 

Warehouse Automation Categories Explained

Warehouse automation encompasses a variety of systems ranging from the complex to the simple. 

The more basic automation strategies include robotic devices, automatic machinery, and vehicles that are used sparingly to free up workers for other essential tasks. 

These relatively simple automation systems can be used in conjunction with advanced technology to operate industrial machines using artificial intelligence, increasing productivity rates.

 

Warehouse automation categories include:

 

  • Basic Warehouse Automation: 

Basic automation refers to simple technology that assists people with tasks. It runs independently, making everyday tasks easier. Conveyors and carousels transport products through a series of connected machines, eliminating the need for manual labor.

 

  • Warehouse System Automation: 

This type of system utilizes software, machine learning, robotics, and data analysis to streamline automating tasks and procedures. A warehouse management structure, for example, evaluates all of the orders that must be filled in a day and instructs users to select similar products to fulfil them at once so that they do not have to visit the warehouse several times.

 

  • Mechanized Warehouse Automation:

Like most in-demand career fields, warehouse automation is trending. This means that there’s a high demand for workers with a good knowledge of how to use it as they’re already hard to find. The good news is that there are plenty of places online where you can find people with the right skills. It’s essential to work at a steady pace. 

When automating any task, first decide what equipment and systems need to be utilized and then figure out how these components fit together.

  • Advanced Warehouse Automation:

Advanced warehouse automation combines mechanized and commercial robotics with highly accurate automated navigation solutions. As an example, a forklift equipped with AI technology is meant to navigate a warehouse and communicate its location over the internet to a satellite.

 

Benefits of Warehouse Automation

  • Increase Speed

We have already mentioned the advantages of using advanced inventory tracking methods. In some cases, it is not a matter of speed but instead accuracy and completion; for example, if you are operating a warehouse for any business that has to ship products at a specific time. 

You will greatly benefit from advanced inventory tracking and routing systems because they can ensure that everything gets where it needs to be on time. 

Advanced Automated Routing Systems (AARS) work by first recognizing what items are needed on what racks in the warehouse, then piecing together an optimized route that leads errant boxes right back to their shelf. 

In the short term, you can also speed inventory management by creating an automatic system for counting items in your warehouse. 

Although technology might not be as effective in the long run, it is far more efficient for expediting inventory management at first - which may come in handy when looking to streamline operations before launching a new or future product line.

 

  • Reduce Costs

Automated systems like those we can provide with our robotics and machine automation technology offer many benefits. 

One of the most important ones is cost-cutting across the board. Of course, it’s not cheap to integrate these systems - but they start to pay for themselves within a given time frame. 

Paying manual labor costs more than using robots, reducing labor costs as more jobs are designated to them as time goes by. Even better, many robotic systems also offer an increase in ROI compared to human employees, who get tired more quickly and can make even simple tasks more challenging than they need to be! For example, a single robot arm performs the job of four harsh manual laborers. 

When an operation is fully automated, it becomes far cheaper! This is because automation increases your business’ capacity levels while simultaneously reducing production costs!

This is precisely true for companies that rely heavily on manual labor during busier periods, like retailers who have to deal with overtime during the holiday season. 

However, their reliance on human workers leads to a greater risk of overtime pay as employees clock additional hours to help keep things running smoothly. 

Instead, use automation to your advantage and cut costs by refraining from hiring seasonal helpers. Machines cannot foresee or understand when it’s the Christmas season, so you won’t have any unexpected hefty bills come January 1st!

 

  • Improved Performance

Working for an extended period of time can increase your chances of injury, but that’s not the only problem you might experience when handling heavy equipment. 

Having too many people trudging through a crowded warehouse and too many people driving up and down aisles both in vehicles and on foot is bound to cause a safety issue or two, especially if they happen to operate forklifts close by! 

That being said, deploying IoT technologies can help maintain even the busiest warehouses while implementing increased safety measures.

Employing modern technology like connected devices and on-site sensors, warehouse workers can keep track of their stock in real-time. 

This functionality helps businesses free up storage capacity and improve the turnover of their money by not over-ordering products that aren’t being ordered as often.

 

  • Maximize Space

The last really important thing we want to cover when it comes to warehouse automation is maximizing space. Again, this is something people don’t always consider, but it’s one of the most significant advantages. 

 

Space plays a significant role in a warehouse or distribution facility, especially when you’re growing and working to optimize productivity. 

Products create a game of Tetris that becomes increasingly difficult the more successful your business gets. If you are trying to find inefficiencies in your operations, automation can help you do that by maximizing the space available. 

Smart machinery can work with the products themselves, increasing overall flexibility and efficiency by repositioning items. This helps reduce the need for complicated forklift maneuvering and frees up space in less than half of the time it takes an operator to manually move items around.

With warehouses, oftentimes, due to lack of space, employees are required to maneuver large machines in order to retrieve and store products. 

Having automated warehouse automation along with using robots for the work within the company allows there to be less shipping damage and an increase in production because robots can navigate around each other without bumping into each other, which can cause breakage.

 

Wrapping Up

If your supply chain uses the same software that it has been using for years, it’s time to innovate. Investing in newer systems is a great way to future-proof your business and ensure that supply chains operate at peak efficiency. It’s not just good for your clients; it can save you a lot of money!