Warehouse automation has a lot of benefits for business. From improved efficiency and increased safety to the fact that volume of order fulfilment errors can be slashed by introducing some simple automated systems, there are many reasons to invest in the technology that can make this happen. Automation can be physical – for example introducing equipment such as robots or robotic systems – or it may be process automation that is focused on digitising manual processes. These are some of the biggest trends that are impacting on warehouse automation today.
Upgrading simple, repetitive labour intensive tasks
Virtually every warehouse today is beginning to integrate some form of automation to improve processes and productivity. That could be automated storage and retrieval systems, forklifts, conveyor systems or product to picker systems. Identifying the right combination of basic automation for your business is an essential place to start and a key trend in the industry.
Warehouse management systems in the cloud
The introduction of a Warehouse Management System (WMS) is another key transition step towards full automation. Today, rather than investing in WMS hardware and software most businesses can access this via the cloud. This makes a range of benefits instantly available, including improved scalability, tighter inventory control, greater cost efficiency and providing central access to key information.
Analysing big data
With the trend in cloud WMS making data processing more accessible to all, many businesses are now also embracing the advantages offered by big data. This entails analysing operational and performance data to identify opportunities for improvement.
The idea that warehouses could be home to robots used to be something considered more Sci-Fi than real life. However, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles are increasingly becoming the norm. You don’t have to be Amazon to integrate this technology into your warehouse, as it’s now much more widely accessible. AMRs etc are a big trend in warehouse automation because they have so many advantages. They could take the form of floor cleaners, forklifts or pallet movers. Wherever they are used they help to increase efficiency, reduce reliance on human staff and minimise the potential for accidents.
The Internet of Things
As we move towards warehouses that are increasingly digitised and connected it’s the Internet of Things that makes everything possible in terms of bringing all the technology and objectives together. The Internet of Things provides an efficient way to connect all the systems and devices within a warehouse environment, providing for a much more seamless approach and allowing for effective tracking and perspective. Strategically placed Internet of Things devices enable everything in a warehouse to be monitored from one place. They are also key in ensuring that investment in technology as well as the human workforce is optimised and that all can work together efficiently.
From big data to autonomous vehicles and introducing the Internet of Things these are some of the biggest trends in warehouse automation today. In this fast moving sector it pays for any business to remain on top of the technology that can deliver operational and efficiency improvements.