Traditional fulfillment processes are infamous for lengthy picking times, inefficient storage space, and congested shipping areas. Modern automation technologies empower warehouses to optimize and eliminate the most tedious tasks to meet increasing demands. Automated ecommerce fulfillment combines software, robotics, sensors, conveyance, and other technology to streamline repetitive and ergonomically taxing tasks faster and more efficiently than traditional methods.
Automated order fulfillment optimizes the ecommerce order process by integrating automation at key areas of the fulfillment process, such as receiving, sortation, storage, picking, packing, shipping, and all material handling processes in between.
To stay competitive, distribution centers and warehouses must meet increasing demands for faster shipping, adapt to labor shortages, and improve quality, all within a limited footprint. Some companies have met these challenges head-on by automating their entire fulfillment center, while others automate key sections of their process. However, ecommerce fulfillment automation, even if implemented in only a few areas, can have the following benefits:
- Boost productivity
- Improve worker safety
- Reduce inventory management errors
- Minimize physical space needed for storage and fulfillment
- Reduce time to fulfill orders
As ecommerce grows, order fulfillment processes must evolve to meet increasing demands. Automation can help improve these processes by increasing warehouse efficiency, reducing order errors, and optimizing space utilization.
Systems such as pick-to-light, RFID product tracking, and integrated order processing can bolster productivity by 30-50%, reduce picking error rates as much as 67%, and improve warehouse space utilization by 10-20%. Automation solutions further streamline order fulfillment by reducing touch points and worker travel time that typically slow down order fulfillment times, allowing goods to reach the consumer faster. When factored together, it’s no surprise that automating your warehouse processes can lead to significant improvements in operations. At JR Automation, we have the expertise to help find the right automation solution to outpace your competitors.
A distribution center is always bustling. The first steps of the order fulfillment process happen simultaneously including receiving inventory, storage, and order picking. Fulfillment processes can be made easier with vision, sensing, robots, and conveyance systems working alongside employees. Review the most significant automation opportunities within order fulfillment below.
Inefficient inventory management is one of the largest cost drivers within warehouses thus making it a key opportunity for improvement through automation. By utilizing logistics software and automated or semi-automated scanning processes, warehouses can ensure items are stored effectively and tracked accurately throughout the fulfillment process.
Automated picking can include robotics, lighting, sensors, and other technology to improve speed, safety, and accuracy of goods-to-person
workflows. There is a wide range of automation options, including pick-and-place robots, conveyance sortation systems, and operator-assist pick-to-light stations.
Automated sorting systems can look different across warehouses, including using a series of technology to move items around the warehouse to sort them into bins, carts, or other containers. Robotic sortation systems are efficient and make large-scale, complex tasks simpler to manage.
Shipping & Receiving
As demand increases for faster and more accurate fulfillment, autonomous palletizing and depalletizing solutions have become critical to meeting delivery times. Robotic palletizing and depalletizing of workcells can improve employee safety and boost productivity in one of the busiest parts of the facility.
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can provide a more efficient material handling process. While AGVs and AMRs differ in flexibility and capability, both technologies save labor costs by automating repetitive material handling tasks and reducing time to move products from point A to point B.
Before investing in new automation or upgrading existing systems in your fulfillment or distribution center, it's critical to understand how best to integrate these technologies in your facility. Sometimes automation is used to increase efficiency, adjust to labor shortages, or maximize productivity; however, it’s important to have clear and measurable business goals before investing in new equipment or adjusting your current workflows. At JR Automation, we help our customers identify a problem, develop a process, and design a solution tailored to your specific needs. We future-proof our systems so that our customers are ready for changing demands for years to come.