When people often think about "warehouse automation," they might picture big warehouses with expensive robots and conveyor systems with hefty price tags, seemingly reserved for industry elites in manufacturing and online shopping.
But that's not true.
Because of quick advancements in both software and hardware, warehouse automation is no longer just a dream but an accessible and flexible reality for all businesses today.
In this blog, we will show you how you can make the most of warehousing automation to streamline your operations and stand out in the competitive world of warehousing.
Understanding Warehouse Automation
Warehouse automation involves using technology to simplify storage and handling tasks, making them more effective and reducing the need for people to do the work.
Warehouse automation is about using smart technology to make as many warehouse jobs as possible. When these automation systems are used together, they change the way warehouses work.
Warehouse automation doesn't just get rid of manual work; it makes it better by adding precision and speed that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Plus, it makes the warehouse a safer and more reliable place to work.
Why Should You Adopt Warehouse Automation?
Adopting a fully automated warehouse system comes with several advantages. Unlike traditional solutions like heavy and fixed conveyors, modern automated warehousing automation technologies are flexible and can grow with your needs.
Cost Efficiency: Operating and maintaining a warehouse can be expensive, but warehouse automation offers a solution to maximise profits and minimise costs. Despite the initial investment, quick returns come from administrative and training expense savings.
Error Reduction: Warehouse automation minimises human errors by reducing staff decisions, decreasing pick and pack mistakes, and ensuring precise inventory tracking.
Enhanced Productivity: Automation systems reduce the workload for employees by eliminating the need for manual weighing, measuring, and storing of goods. This allows employees to focus on less strenuous tasks.
Improved Safety: Automation contributes to increased warehouse safety by automating high-risk activities through robots like Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). These robots handle safety hazards, reducing the risk to warehouse staff.
Faster Processing Time: Automation significantly accelerates warehouse operations and reduces handling time. Robots and specialised technologies expedite measurements and accurately record package details, saving time, especially when dealing with large quantities of shipments.
Different Warehouse Automation
Let's take a look at the wide range of automation options that ultimately lead to efficient warehousing for many businesses.
Note: Not all warehouse automation will apply to businesses of all kinds. Consider this list as a way to understand the possibilities of warehouse automation.
Making things easier in handling materials, picking orders, and packing, robotics are here to make sure everything is accurate and fast. Let's break down robotics into different kinds:
- Robotic Mixed-Case Palletizing and Robotic Layer Building: These technologies help stack different products neatly on a single pallet and create layers of the same products.
- Robotic Delayering and Descrambling: These help take apart stacks of products and organise them when they're all mixed up. This makes getting things ready for storage or shipping quick and easy.
- Robotic Piece Picking: This makes picking individual items fast and precise. It often involves using advanced robots that move independently to get the job done.
These are the heavy lifters in the automated warehouse, working non-stop to move materials with efficiency and precision.
1. Case Erectors and Cartoners:
These help quickly put together boxes and carton packaging. They make assembling packages fast and easy.
2. Check Weighing and In-Line Scales:
These make sure that all packages weigh the right amount. It helps make shipping more accurate by ensuring everything is within the required weight range.
3. Shrink Tunnels and Bundles:
Used for packaging, these technologies make wrapping and grouping products secure. They help keep things in place during shipping.
4. Various Types of Sorters:
Technologies like NBS and Bombay Sorters categorise products into different groups based on specific criteria. This makes the sorting process more efficient, organising products based on certain characteristics.
3- Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS)
AS/RS is important for keeping things simple and flexible as it ensures there's lots of storage space and it's easy to get to. There are different types, like:
- Miniload Systems: Working on a smaller scale, these systems do similar jobs to regular AS/RS but focus on smaller things like cases or totes.
- Unit Load AS/RS: These come in two types, either using cranes or shuttles. They handle bigger loads and are served by top providers like Swisslog and Dematic.
4- Goods-to-Person Technologies
1. KIVA Systems/Amazon Robotics/Grenzebach:
These are good at carrying shelves of products to the workers. It makes picking things faster and better.
2. Blackline Lithium-Ion Based Robots:
These robots use lithium-ion technology and are great for getting products to people. They're good at handling lots of products efficiently.
5- Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Similar Technologies
Found almost everywhere, these vehicles are continually improving:
These are used for lots of jobs, like moving small parts around or handling bigger loads. Good companies like Egemin and Dematic take care of these.
2. Automated Trailer Loading and Unloading:
This is a new way of doing things. It makes loading and unloading trailers easier and faster. It cuts down on the hard work people have to do, making the whole process quicker.
Real-World Examples Of Efficient Warehousing
Companies of all sizes are now adapting to smart warehousing led by different automation technologies, and these successful businesses are speaking examples of it.
Amazon Robotics: Transforming Order Processing
Amazon leads the way in warehouse automation, employing over 200,000 robots alongside its human workforce. These robots are crucial in picking, packing, and shipping items, reducing human workload, and ensuring swift order processing.
Tesla's Precision Manufacturing: Automated Assembly Lines
Tesla's manufacturing facility demonstrates extensive automation, particularly in assembling electric vehicles. Robots are integral to their production line, ensuring precision and efficiency in constructing various vehicle parts.
Walmart's Alphabot: Streamlining Online Grocery Orders
Walmart's Alphabot system optimises online grocery fulfilment, using automated carts to retrieve items for orders. This speeds up the assembly process at picking stations, ensuring quick and accurate order fulfilment.
Get Smart Storage Solutions For Your Warehouse With OZI Racking!
If you are looking for a reliable storage solution for your efficient warehousing, OZI Racking is your go-to solution. We are the leading and most entrusted distributor of dependable solutions for shelving and racking in Australia. Our premium racks, shelves, beams, and other racking accessories are made of high-quality material, ensuring maximum durability for your smart warehousing. Get in touch with us or explore our website to find the best solutions for your modern warehouses.