Warehouses have long taken advantage of emerging technologies to improve processes—and automation is no exception. While some fear that robots are set to take over jobs, automation technology can actually be extremely beneficial to both the warehouse and its employees. Companies don't completely automate their operations, but rather use automation to complete repetitive or unsafe tasks to improve efficiency.
Types of Warehouse Automation
As automation technologies continue to advance, workplaces are finding many different ways to incorporate these systems into their warehouse management system. Some common systems for warehouse automation include:
Known also as GTP solutions, goods-to-person technologies are probably the most common kind of automation found in a warehouse. GTP solutions typically use robots and/or machines to travel around the warehouse and delivering materials to workers for assembly or packing. These include:
- Conveyor systems: Conveyors are arguably the first kind of automated technology introduced to the warehouse. Conveyor belts move materials or items along assembly lines or to other locations like packaging and sorting areas.
- Automated storage and retrieval systems: When most people think about warehouse automation, they're thinking of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). AS/RS uses cranes, carousels, and vehicles to move items within a warehouse and storage locations.
Using barcodes and LED lights, these systems help workers quickly locate the correct items while fulfilling orders. Pick-to-light systems improve productivity by helping workers find items faster and without taking unnecessary steps.
Collaborative mobile robots
These kinds of robots work alongside humans often guiding operators through the picking process. In addition to improving accuracy, come systems can actually optimize picking routes and tasks. Other benefits of collaborative mobile robots include more flexibility, reduced walking time, and enhanced productivity, reliability, and scalability.
Photographers aren't the only ones who can use drones to elevate their work! When equipped with barcode scanners, drones can be especially helpful when it comes to conducting inventory counts, finding items in the wrong place, materials that need to be restocked, and other improvements for inventory management.
With the ability to identify and separate items, these systems are used to send items to the certain locations in a facility like picking zones or packing stations.
Improving the facility by integrating warehouse automation solutions can offer numerous benefits for any organization. From simple systems to transport materials to complex autonomous robots helping associates complete repetitive tasks, implementing a comprehensive automated warehouse system can increase productivity, reduce strain and fatigue in workers, lower operating costs, eliminate shipping mistakes, and so much more.
Similar Glossary Terms
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
- Warehouse Logistics
- Warehouse Racking
- Inventory Management
- MRO (Maintenance, Reliability, and Operation)
- Perpetual Inventory
- Lean Maintenance