Traditional warehouse processes are infamous for long, tedious tasks that require a significant amount of time and labor. But what if you could automate or even eliminate some of these processes? Warehousing automation involves combining software, machinery, sensors, conveyance, and other solutions to complete repetitive tasks at higher speeds than by using employees alone. The benefits include saving labor costs while improving efficiency and productivity with an increase in safety due to improved ergonomics.
A warehouse floor is a bustling place. Many processes go on in warehouses simultaneously, and they can benefit from logistics and material handling automation to keep things running smoothly. Receiving, picking, and packing goods at distribution centers or ecommerce centers could be made easier with robots and conveyance systems working alongside employees. We'll review the most significant automation opportunities within receiving, picking, packing, dispatching, and put-away processes.
When first introducing products to your warehouse, data accuracy is vital. Scanning SKUs or ASNs correctly and quickly sets up the next processes for success. Even a tiny error rate in receiving can add up to product returns and customer dissatisfaction. Automating some or all of the receiving process can improve accuracy. While the unloading of trucks is still typically done manually, automating material handling, conveyance, and scanning products with robotics and vision can reduce error and increase productivity.
Both receiving and picking can benefit from automating physical material handling processes or optimizing data entry and data management. There are multiple systems companies can use to improve the traceability, accuracy, and efficiency of their picking processes, including:
Picking system automation or smart picking systems can include integrating robotics to sort stock, group products into an order, or move products with a conveyance system. Pick-to-light and put-to-light systems use LED lights to guide employees to the correct area to pick or put goods and sometimes include using robotics to scan and trace products. These systems are paperless, reduce the amount of time employees need to find products, and improve accuracy.
JR Automation is a leading provider of automated material handling solutions. Our RFSS system provides an accurate solution for inventory management with real-time visibility into what's on hand at any time. It also automates the physical movements required during pick operations. This means more efficient workflows; increased throughput rates; reduced labor costs; fewer errors due to misplacement or incorrect placement of items in bins, racks, or totes; lower risk of injury due to repetitive motion injuries; and better customer service because goods are delivered faster than ever before.
Packing and storing products in the warehouse is a prime opportunity for integrating automation. Managing how products are packed together in groups and where can be a logistics challenge and a material handling challenge. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to streamline these processes using technology, including optimizing case erection and using robotics to complete case packing. Large distribution centers have automated parts of their SLAM labeling processes, including packing, scanning, applying the label, and preparing the products for shipping.
Automation can improve material handling, package preparation, and staging orders for shipping. Warehouses can use the same systems for dispatching and outbound processes as they use to pick and receive. For example, you can integrate an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) for goods-to-person picking and packing, retrieving goods by a carousel or vehicle and moving them to the employee. Robotic palletizers can prepare large packs or totes at higher volumes and cycle rates than through manual labor alone. Automated warehouse robots for dispatching and outbound include:
- Robotic sorter induction systems
- Sortation conveyance
- Mixed SKU palletization
Putting away stock from receiving is one of the most traditionally manual processes within large warehouses. Depending on the type of facility, put-away processes can be complex, including sorting boxes or totes with many kinds of products. Just like receiving and picking, data accuracy is crucial. Companies can turn to multiple machines and intelligent systems to make these processes faster, more ergonomic, and more accurate. Systems include:
- Automated forklifts
- AS/RS shuttles
- Mini-unit load cranes
JR Automation is a global warehouse automation integrator. We install innovative products that automate the physical processes of receiving, picking, storage, and distribution. We have worked with customers who are expanding their facilities and ensuring their solution will work best in their new facility and have helped other customers add new systems to their existing lines to save time and labor. Automating warehouse tasks means better efficiency, increased sorting and picking rates, reduced labor costs, fewer errors, and better customer service.