Warehouse Automation Basics

To remain competitive warehouses today must automate. Automation does not necessarily mean replacing all the physical structures like your wire shelving or racking systems, although depending on your business focus it might involve updating some of your storage equipment.

Rising customer expectations and supply chain needs require warehouses to gain efficiencies and streamline portions of your operations. Automation provides a way to meet these challenges and make a significant positive impact in a short period.

Amazon Effect

The so-called Amazon effect has changed the way warehouses must do business. The Amazon effect refers to how online retailers have begun to supplant brick and mortar stores.

Shopping and customer expectations have changed. Amazon has met this challenge and helped to create this climate of better service by leading the way in developing innovative, technological approaches to meet the challenges of the changing shopping landscape.

The highly automated Amazon warehouse facilities help the company maintain the large market share that Bezos’ business currently enjoys.

Reasons to Automate

Warehouses are a vital component of logistics management. How quickly and efficiently you can receive and deliver the product directly affects the success of the rest of the supply chain.

Your ability to deliver product can mean the difference between success and failure for the upstream and downstream businesses with whom you interact.

Automation helps create faster turnarounds, cuts costs, and allows you to quickly scale up or down operations based on supply and demand.

Automation 101

For an existing warehouse, determining how best to implement automation can seem not only daunting but cost prohibitive.

Automation, however, does not mean you need to spend outside of your budget and completely revamp how you do business.

Begin by taking a close look at your business model to improve basic areas more easily suited to automation.

These areas include your warehouse management system (WMS), inventory controls, and data collection.

Warehouse Management Systems

Identifying your company’s goals and objectives is the first step in finding the right WMS. Take a holistic approach and include possible changes in other areas of automation you might implement.

Depending on the WMS you choose, the inventory component could meet your objective to improve and automate this critical aspect of your operations.

The type and quality of technical support require some thought before switching to a more efficient WMS. Some offer direct phone access to technicians, others have chat or email only, and support hours of operations could be limited.

Review things like web-based or server based and determine which works best for your business.

Inventory Automation and Tablets

Automating inventory gives you updated and accurate data on your inventory status instantly. You have complete transparency as to the status of all your products.

By including a high-speed Wi-Fi system in your warehouse and providing tablets to employees, you can use the data to make decisions quicker and more efficiently.

Physical Automation

You may have an operation that would benefit from physical automation. Physical automation includes implementing mechanized automation such as robots, vertical lift systems, or similar mechanisms.

The right physical automation systems will do all the repetitive, and time-consuming tasks humans typically perform. This allows you to use your workers for more essential tasks where direct human involvement is needed.

The system you choose may pay for itself eventually by decreasing the number of workers on your payroll, saving significantly on costs. You may find that investing in a system such as a vertical lift module may great improve your speed of input and delivery.

Contact Us

If you are considering automating your warehouse or updating your operation, please call 800-589-7225 (RACK) to speak with a Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc, project manager. We can provide application specific solutions for your unique needs at an affordable price.

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