Automation is a smart solution to many of the issues faced by the warehouse industry today. With options for all enterprises and premises it can take those repetitive pain points that make every day operations inefficient and revolutionise them. Any repetitive tasks can be automated to improve productivity and cut down on wasted costs and time – it’s the best part of optimising logistics no matter level your business is at.
Warehouse automation – the options
- Automated barcodes. Inventory management is one of the major challenges for any warehouse and working with a system of barcodes makes it possible to significantly improve efficiency. The use of barcodes plus automation removes the need for manual entry of data, reducing errors in the process of shipping and simplifying the tracking of stock. Options range from a simple handheld barcode solution to powerful scanners that can read items at height or distance to avoid the need for access via ladders etc.
- Automating data. A wealth of systems exist today to automate the way your business uses data. For example, software can replace manual data entry, pulling numbers from a range of data sources into the right locations in an accounting system to improve accounting processes.
- Automated vehicles. Forklifts and pallet jacks are often the most frequently used warehouse vehicles and options now exist to automate these. Automated vehicles are programmed to follow specific paths around a warehouse and to move stock on the basis of digital commands. There are many advantages to opting to automate the vehicles that you use in the warehouse, not least that taking human drivers out of the equation significantly reduces the risk of injury, damage or health and safety problems. There are also great efficiency gains to be made as automated vehicles don’t require breaks and can be programmed to take the shortest possible route around a warehouse to optimise performance. You can add automated vehicles to your warehouse as and when required – you don’t have to invest in an entire fleet in one go – and most will work with your existing layout without the need to make expensive changes. There are also now options to lease automated vehicles if you don’t have the up front capital investment to buy.
- Automated picking. These super efficient systems can significantly improve the efficiency of the picking process. Custom, modular storage solutions combined with automated picking solutions, such as robots, can minimise picking times and ensure optimum accuracy with every order. Automated picking can help to improve space efficiency as well as reduce workforce costs. There are a range of different solutions available, from a full robotic picking system to options with elements of automation, such as pick to light or pick to voice.
The process of integrating automation into any warehouse needs to start with getting perspective on how your existing operations function and where there is a need for improvement. That could be in terms of the way that you use data or picking and packing processes that could be more efficient. From there almost anything is possible.