Using Automation to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

Posted: December 8, 2023


Warehouses play a crucial role in quickly getting your products to their final destination and keeping your customers happy. Having an efficient warehouse not only gets products out the door faster but can have a significant impact on your bottom line.  

Automation plays a key part in improving the efficiency of a warehouse. From picking and sortation, to barcoding, palletizing, and material movement, robotics are taking over to improve accuracy, reduce damages, and boost productivity. As warehouses become increasingly automated companies are seeing the benefits of streamlined operations and a safer, more productive environment.  

Your warehouse is essential to the success of your company. Increasing efficiency is likely a top priority for your warehouse team. Here are a few ways that automation can be used to improve your warehouse operations. 

Ways Automation Can Improve Your Warehouse Operations 

Warehouse automation can help tackle employee shortages and quality issues to make your company more productive. Here are a few examples of automation that could be incorporated into your warehouse. 

Robotic Work Cells 

The use of robotic automation in warehouses has been increasing in recent years as robots are now being used to palletize, depalletize, and pick products. A robotic work cell is a system of machines or resources used in a manufacturing or warehouse environment. The work cell typically includes a robot or system of robots, tools needed to complete tasks, and safeguards. Work cells are designed to improve the speed and quality of a process which in turn leads to a better process flow. 

Collaborative Robots 

Collaborative robots (or cobots) work alongside operators to complete tasks continuously and more accurately. In addition, collaborative robots can be re-tasked to different areas of your warehouse or production line and easily re-programmed.  

AGVs and AMRs 

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) move materials around to different points in your warehouse. Both can transport heavy and bulky loads. AGVs travel through warehouses on designated and predetermined paths and handle a lot of product retrieval tasks. AMRs determine their own path while detecting and moving around obstacles. 

Automated Put Wall 

What if you could cut out miles of conveyance and several thousand square feet of fulfillment floor space? Our RFSS Robotic Sortation System, also known as an automated put wall, can make that happen. The robotic sorting system consolidates orders prior to packing, eliminating labor. The RFSS Robotic Sortation System also maximizes warehouse space by building vertically (up), instead of horizontally.  

Software Solutions 

Incorporating software solutions into your automation systems can provide you with essential data to improve your operations. From predictive maintenance and labor planning to inventory management. Software solutions can help improve the flow through your warehouse by optimizing how and when orders are picked in different areas of the warehouse.  

When it comes to equipment maintenance, software can provide real-time data to predict and warn your team of potential issues on a piece of equipment. This available data can not only reduce equipment downtime from an unexpected repair but can save you money and increase the life of your equipment.  

Ways Automation Increases Warehouse Efficiency 

Pressure is growing to update warehouses as automation becomes more prevalent throughout the industry. While the benefits of automation are well known, justifying the switch from current operations can be challenging. The hefty upfront costs of implementing a fully automated solution often deters companies from making the commitment. 

To justify the cost of automation, companies need to understand how it will impact their overall business. Here are five ways automation can lead to increased efficiency that improves your bottom line: 

Solve Staffing Challenges 

Whether your company is struggling with finding or retaining staff, or you do not have a qualified workforce, this can cause issues for your company. Automation can step in to handle work where and when you do not have people to complete critical tasks in your operations.  

Reduce Operational Costs 

Automation reduces the potential of mishandling or damaging products, minimizes inventory errors, and reduces picking and packing errors. The reduction of errors saves time and money. Additionally, automation can complete a series of tasks in seconds that would take humans much longer.  

The cost of moving and storing inventory is something to consider as well. As more orders are shipped, inventory will need to be replenished more often. Manual labor for moving inventory can require long hours to complete. Robotic systems, like AGVs (Automated guided vehicle) or AMRs (Autonomous mobile robot), can work continuously and move products more consistently.  

The use of robots can aid in eliminating product waste. Eliminating waste saves your company from the cost of needing additional supplies due to errors that result in products being thrown away.  

Improve Productivity and Reduce Processing Time 

Some manual tasks require hours of human labor to complete. By implementing automation to handle repetitive tasks, your employees can take on more complex work that allows them to feel challenged.  

Automation keeps work moving. Unlike human beings, robots and automated systems can work continuously. Products can be picked 24/7, which allows you to process more orders and faster.  

Reduces Safety Risks 

Robots can take the place of humans in jobs that pose potential risk or injury. Very repetitive jobs or frequent transportation of heavy objects could lead to ergonomic issues for an operator.  

By using automation to take on these heavy or repetitive duties, people are saved from possible injury. By reducing the risk of injuries, work at a warehouse can continually be completed without downtime. 

Cut Down on Errors 

The speed and accuracy of your company's pick rate plays a huge role in keeping customers happy. Automating processes will help improve pick rates and eliminate wrong items being selected. When people are handling repetitious tasks, it is easy to get fatigued and make errors. Robots don’t have this issue and are designed for accuracy and repeatability. 

Automation can and will change your warehouse, but that all depends on how well you adapt it to your facility. Using data and automation in the correct way can help significantly improve your operations. This is where our team can help you successfully implement automation. We will work with you to choose the right automation for you and will help your team understand how to use it.  

Visit our website to learn more about our knowledge in warehouse and logistics automation. Or contact us today!