While the idea of a warehouse run by robots might seem like something from a sci-fi film, the reality is that this is a vision that is not far off. Warehouse automation and the use of robotic solutions can generate significant advantages for any warehouse business, from reducing the cost of labour to minimising errors. If you’re not sure where to start with the potential that this has – or you’re keen to find out about the challenges – this is what that future of warehouse automation might look like.
Why consider warehouse automation?
One of the biggest driving factors is cost. Integrating warehouse automation can help to increase productivity and prevent waste, both with respect to the space available and also time and resources on site. Other benefits include:
- Reducing labour costs by replacing some of a manual workforce with robotic solutions
- Greater agility and responsiveness – for example, robotic solutions can receive, process and pack orders 24/7, improving customer service and boosting productivity
- Improved health and safety - an automated warehouse environment relies less on human activity, which means that hazard exposure for staff can be reduced. One obvious example is an automated stock take, which uses a drone with a camera to check stock stored high up so that humans don’t have to try to reach it
Robotic solutions have a lot of advantages when it comes to improving operational efficiency and performance. However, like any technology, they also come with their own share of challenges too.
- Robots require the right environment in which to function. Something like an uneven floor could cause problems where automation is concerned as it may destabilise a robot or cause issues in terms of carrying out tasks. So, where automated solutions are going to be used it’s essential that the environment is assessed to ensure that it supports this technology.
- Equipment needs to fit within the right criteria. Warehouse robots will be designed to work with pallets that fall within specific criteria, for example. This could be something as simple as ensuring that the pallet is the right size, with no protruding elements and that the stock on it is secured and properly loaded. This may mean that existing equipment in a warehouse may need to be updated to accommodate automation.
Integrating automation – what does this look like?
- Picking, packing and handling products. Robotic solutions offer the opportunity for 24/7 labour, which can help to reduce costs on an ongoing basis.
- Chatbots for customer support. Again, chatbots are available around the clock and these AIs learn as they go to be more accommodating and helpful to customers.
- Automated warehouse solutions. From moving pallets to storage and retrieval, robotic solutions can be integrated at any point to enable greater efficiency and productivity within your warehouse.
The reality of robots – and what they can offer in terms of warehouse operations – is very different from the fiction. From cutting costs to increasing customer satisfaction levels, warehouse automation offers many benefits to those businesses willing to buy into it as the future.