Increasing Efficiency through Warehouse AutomationTime to read: 6 minutes
There is growing pressure to upgrade and transform logistics as digitalization and automation sweep the eCommerce industry. Scale capability, greater flexibility, reliable automation, increased efficiency, and lower costs are retail businesses’ top priorities. As a result, many online merchants are looking for practical ways to use automation, intelligence, and unmanned systems to achieve sustainable enterprise development.
Warehouse automation is vital now as businesses and warehouse managers try to boost productivity, cut costs, and streamline operations. People can have many different ideas of how warehouse automation works. Automation in the warehouse includes anything from robots to automated procedures, and its goal is to boost efficiency.
For client delivery, warehouse automation automatically moves inventory into, within, and out of warehouses. A company can reduce labor-intensive tasks, manual data entry, and analysis as part of an automation initiative.
For instance, a warehouse employee might put large products onto an autonomous mobility robot. Warehouse management software tracks inventory moving robots from one end of the warehouse to the shipment zone, keeping all records current. These robots increase this task’s effectiveness, speed, dependability, and precision.
That doesn’t mean robots and programs are displacing people or stealing their jobs. Businesses are utilizing machines’ accuracy and capacity to operate continuously for extended periods. Without the risk of fatigue, warehouse jobs become safer and more effective. Humans are still present in warehouse automation solutions, handling everything from unloading trailers to fulfilling orders.
Why You Need to Adopt Warehouse Automation
A completely automated warehouse system has many advantages. Compared to more traditional automation solutions like conveyors, which are heavy and fixed in place, modern warehouse automation technologies are more adaptable and expandable.
A warehouse’s operation and upkeep can be costly. The average cost to operate a warehouse in the United States in 2022 was $7.96 per square foot. Therefore, warehouse managers must find ways to maximize their costs while keeping expenditures down.
Here are some significant benefits your business can take advantage of when automating warehouse operations.
Avoid Human Errors
Customers receiving incorrect orders is a tremendous disaster for eCommerce businesses. Mistakes such as sending the wrong item can lead to losing buyer confidence. Warehouse automation can minimize warehouse staff decisions, decreasing pick and pack errors and enhancing order accuracy.
Automated systems can increase human accuracy even if no system can be 100% perfect. These systems can swiftly detect and fix mistakes when they do happen. Inventory tracking software is known to be extremely precise and accurate when picking tasks.
Reduce Operational Costs
The cost of warehouse automation initiatives is high, but they often yield quick positive results. Due to the numerous new sources of savings that warehouse automation offers, you can achieve an ROI quickly. Have a more efficient workforce by lowering administrative and training expenses for staff. Ensure shipping accuracy by maximizing product handling and storage costs. Increase customer satisfaction by avoiding inventory errors and removing the possibility of product loss and damage. All these contribute to you having a bigger bottom line with less operational overhead.
Improved Warehouse Productivity
Most warehouse tasks require hours of intense labor and are frequently repetitive. Systems for warehouse automation reduce the amount of work that employees must do. Automation eliminates the need to weigh big loads or measure pallets or packages manually. It also reduces hours of receiving and storing the goods. Instead, less strenuous activities that will increase productivity can be given to warehouse employees. Doing this will raise employee retention levels and overall warehouse productivity.
Better Work Site Safety
Increased warehouse safety is another advantage of automation. Many high-risk activities can be automated by warehouse robots like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs). These robots can take on any safety hazards instead of your warehouse staff. Additionally, warehouse automation systems bring the products to the worker. As a result, it lessens human movement across the building. Fewer people handling goods decreases product damage and raises warehouse safety standards.
Faster Processing Time
Automation can significantly accelerate operations and cut down on handling time. Robots are more accurate and move at a faster rate than humans. Specialized product-picking technologies quickly expedite measurement and accurately record a package’s dimensions, weight, and pictures. When you need to measure thousands of shipments, it saves time.
On the other hand, automated warehouse workflows let you employ particular triggers to carry out many actions without requiring human involvement.
8 Best Uses of Warehouse Automation
Warehouse automation uses many technologies that support human workers or complete activities from beginning to end. To maintain inventory and distribute items, warehouses manage various duties and processes.
Warehouse automation systems are equally diverse, including technologies to accelerate warehouse operations.
1. Warehouse Management Systems
Applications known as warehouse management systems (WMS) are designed to assist with daily warehouse operations.
Thanks to these solutions, you can control, monitor, and optimize the essential operations of your warehouse. You can manage inventory tracking, product picking, packing, and shipping tasks from a single dashboard. WMS can be used to control the machinery for material handling. These systems’ primary goal is to ensure warehouse items move as economically and efficiently as possible. That’s from the moment it enters the warehouse until it leaves.
2. Goods-to-Persons Technologies
Robots or other equipment that deliver materials to workers for assembly or packing make up the majority of goods-to-person (GTP) solutions. It might use cars that drive around the warehouse collecting materials or cranes. Conveyor systems and automated storage and retrieval solutions are also included in GTP.
3. Automated Sortation Systems
Products on a conveyor system are automatically identified, sorted, and directed to particular warehouse locations using automated sortation systems. Depending on the product type, these warehouse automation systems employ various sorting techniques using RFID, barcode scanners, and other sensors. As a result, warehouse operations will be more efficient, requiring less order handling and restrictions.
4. Pick-to-Light Systems
Pick-to-light systems help your warehouse employees find the right items to complete orders by using LED lights and barcodes. Pick-to-light systems supplement human workforces by minimizing walking and increasing efficiency by facilitating quicker item location for pickers.
5. Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
AGVs traverse a predetermined path across the warehouse using magnetic strips, floor markers (stickers), wires, lasers, cameras, and other sensors. Only large, straightforward warehouse settings with properly created navigation layouts can have these warehouse automation systems. AGVs are not recommended for complicated warehouses with limited space and a high volume of human traffic.
6. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
AMRs use inbuilt sensors, cameras, and computers to move through a warehouse more effectively than AGVs. These added functions make them more adaptable and intelligent. AMRs, in contrast to AGVs, self-learn, and process paths in real time. AMRs can move materials independently without the aid of physical guides or other markers. These robots are explicitly made for warehouses that are labor-intensive with high-volume needs. They can safely operate safely in settings with human employees because of in-built sophisticated guiding algorithms that detect different barriers.
7. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)
An AS/RS accurately and quickly stores and retrieves goods from predetermined warehouse storage locations. AS/RS enhances safety, boosts productivity, and optimizes floor space, making it perfect for manufacturing and distribution facilities.
One of the most cutting-edge examples of warehouse automation solutions is the use of drones. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, are sophisticated flying machines that find cargo and carry out inventory counts. This is made possible through onboard optical sensors, infrared cameras, barcode scanners, RFID technology, etc. If any item is in the incorrect storage location or the products require replenishing, they automatically transmit alerts. They can easily access even the deepest corners of your warehouse.
An ineffective warehouse negatively impacts the customer experience. Automated warehouses are more efficient and thrive despite rising client demand. It’s essential to keep up with the trends to remain competitive. In the last five years, the adoption of automated storage and retrieval systems has increased by 80%. Using warehouse management systems has resulted in a 30% decrease in the typical order-picking time.
You can choose from various warehouse automation options based on your warehouse’s demands. These collaborative automation solutions can decrease operational expenses, safety hazards, processing times, and errors. They help boost productivity and efficiency by carrying out everyday warehouse activities effectively and quickly.
More and more companies are investing in solutions that automate the management and handling of items in their facilities. The business, the industry, and the market demand it.
When you’re ready to increase the efficiency of your eCommerce business through warehouse automation, work with ZhenHub. We have everything you need to optimize your logistics operations, from an inventory management system to a global network of fulfillment centers. Find out which automation solution works best when you sign up at our website.