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May 21, 2020 | 13:05

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Over recent years, automated warehouse solutions for logistics and transportation, supply chain and manufacturing processes became widely popular. The reasons are several, for example, robotic warehouse systems, and autonomous vehicles speed up the workflow process and help to deal with the local tasks faster. In this article, we will dive deeper into the aspects covered by warehouse automation technology, explain its main layers, and real-time cases.

Warehouse automation technology: foundations, means, and layers

Do you remember how often it happened to deal with the typical humans’ mistakes when it comes to manual operations? For small companies, errors could be barely considered as it’s easier to fix it or exchange the wrongly filled report. But when we are talking about the massive corporation with the numerous departments across the country and with the customers across the globe, human mistakes here are resulting in delays, failed deadlines, low productivity, and money lost. That’s why automated warehouse systems are created to minimize companies’ risks and optimize the workflow process by picking repetitive tasks and optimizing them for a better solution.

Automated warehouses integrate technologically-advanced solutions such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT to simplify the monotonous tasks and routine work. For example, when the product is moving across a warehouse, automated robotic machines could save time for transportation, and decrease the number of product stops. So, the combination of automated storage and retrieval system with the warehouse management system helps to increase productivity.

There are two main parts we could divide general automatic warehouses with Physical and Process automation. Both pieces have their layers correspond to the specific activities.

  • Physical automation corresponds to the usage of automated robotic systems, which helps to provide a high ROI for high-volume warehouses. Among the layers, there are automated guided vehicles, automated storage and retrieval system, autonomous robots.
  • Process automation is related to digital automation processes in the automated warehouse management system. Among the layers, we could define ERP systems, barcoding scanners.
  • For both process automation and physical automation warehouse, the aim is to improve procedures, overtake the problematic tasks, concentrate on more significant activities required human inputs except for the robotic vision. For different sizes warehouses, there could be used either one or both automation types aimed to provide higher ROI within the shortest terms.

    How do automated warehouse solutions work?

    Every business may opt for its own custom solution to automate warehouse processes. Instead of the manual work and depending on the company size, each business will choose the best-automated warehouse system to implement. Here are some of the most used to increase effectiveness and raise productivity.

    Barcoding

    Barcoding

    The easiest way to implement automated warehouse solutions is to add barcode labeling to reduce possible errors in tracking, or mistakes while entering a goods’ data. Among the main benefits for business barcoding brings:

  • Faster inventory tracking to monitor each movement from start to final point. For example, executives can quickly check arrival planning and schedule the right entry for ships and cargos. If the fleet arrives simultaneously with shipments, then the downtime cost will be much lower. Except for it, managers can control the list of items and prevent stuff lost within the one delivery.
  • Prevented delays due to staff shortage and improved picking efficiency of workers. Managers could reallocate employees more efficiently within the needed area. It will help to minimize or even remove delays and increase the workflow process.
  • An automated pre ordering process. The automated warehouse management system will order a new measure of stuff as soon as the goods are counted as lower than the reasonable amount. The manager will receive notification about the pre ordered items and the exact number of current assets.
  • Remove manual typing of product data and exchange it with barcoding. It will help to gather data quickly and save time on goods management. Unfortunately, some companies still type and check all of the 50K items manually instead of using the barcode scanning systems and minimizing failures and errors.
  • Automated Guided Vehicles

    Automated Guided Vehicles

    Automated guided vehicles are innovative solutions for navigation inside the warehouse. For example, there are robotized trucks to move items on a manufacturing system or transport stock from warehousing to assembling plants. Since these trucks are automatically guided, setting up the underlying stream or reconfiguring the course as fundamental is straightforward. Transponder labels are used to guide when the vehicle should stop or perform an activity, for example, speeding up, or lifting or bringing down. Custom AGVs development can help companies create hardware adapted to their needs. It will be a smart investment for warehouses to exchange manual work to automated.

    Automated storage and retrieval system

    Automated storage and retrieval system

    For what do companies use AS/RS systems? Conveyors and AS/RS (automated storage and retrieval system) are used in distribution centers, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses. AS/RS systems accommodate advanced inventory control and goods tracking. The main idea is to reduce cost on serving the device, which may help more than 30 years; exchange employees on complicated work, and increase workplace safety.

    Warehouse Management Solutions

    Warehouse Management Solutions

    Automation warehouse operations are impossible without the right automated management solutions. Among the widely used, we can define warehouse control systems, warehouse execution systems, warehouse management systems. The final decision regarding which one to choose depends on the inventory size, required options, and the list of features. The most appropriate one for non-automated companies is WMS. WES and WCS are the right fit for technologically advanced businesses. To help you with better understanding, let’s explore each type of automated warehouse management system.

  • WMS manages inventory flow, orders, and labor tasks. The system helps to manage orders within several channels, control the communication with customers as well as the quality of customer services. WMS is usually a choice for small businesses to start implementing an automation warehouse control over every department to improve the work quality.
  • WES is a complex of WMS and WCS features. It’s a light version of complicated solutions for small businesses, and a reduced version of multiple featured software for medium-sized companies. For both representatives, WES helps to manage both customers and shops.
  • WCS is an advanced software created to manage the flow of different stuff such as pallets and cartons during its move by the automated robotic hardware. WCS is used to exchanges real-time data about material optimization to exchange communication and processing orders.
  • Cases of warehouse automation systems

    Indeed, even with a charge credit, the expenses for an automated warehouse management systems are very high, mainly when web-based business activities are included. It’s the reason online business request arrangement manual, aside from in individual nations like China, where coordinations chains, for the most part, manage tremendous volumes.

    When can an automated warehouse be useful? To keep up the operational limit in case of failure, organizations must respond rapidly and think about raising concerns. Also, the distribution center can decrease process adaptability. An automated warehouse is increasingly hard to change and can keep an organization from developing.

    The real samples of implemented warehouse automation systems show that it raised the company’s productivity by 30%. The space utilization is also was optimized by 17%. Here you can see real samples of companies with automated warehouses, and results they reached by the technologically advanced solutions.

    IKEA

    Being a worldwide leading retailer, IKEA’s directors applied automated warehouse systems to ensure everything is set up, and every item is followed. Their supply chain management system is controlled via the development department. It permits the organization to save money on warehouse space, gathers exact information, and guarantee on-time transfer.

    Amazon

    The worldwide known company with significant storage and almost uncountable volume of items in need of a propelled administration framework. Amazon warehouse automation is implemented to check where each thing is and creating routes to pick up stuff in the briefest time. The company has its own WMS system to collect data to the inventory and run a smooth process of management warehouse.

    Nike

    Nike utilizes stockroom equipment and programming to work its 2,000,000 square-foot area. Their handling system controls machines with extensive framework permeability of work processes, guaranteeing quicker throughput, and higher profitability.

    How to implement these methods into your business?

    There are three main steps to implement automated warehouse solutions. Except for the business size and needs, we suggest considering the primary actions first.

    Step-1: start with data collection

    Automated data collection will help not just reduce paperwork, but also minimize possible human errors occurred. Some companies still use spreadsheets to store collected information about delivered stuff. Instead of barcodes to scan and save the data in cloud-based software, managers walk around with pen and paper and rewrite the name and number. But one-day such manual work could lead to a mistake which might cause financial loss.

    For instance, when a shipment shows up at your warehouse, workers investigate each one, record, or type in the amount, before being put away in containers. Each time your worker enters sum, or some other sort of data, there’s a chance of human mistake, for example, a re-requesting of numbers. Since the error is recorded, and in the “paper made” database, it can affect a full request, and the wrong info is binned, moved, picked, stuffed, and afterward sent.

    Step-2: control your inventory

    As soon as you optimized a data storage process, then work on the next stage with the inventory. Every scanned item info is stored in the catalog, where this data is saved and controlled in real-time. For example, when the new shipment arrived, employees could scan products and receive immediate information about its condition, and other details. Another worker scans the bin where the stock will be held. Every step is controlled and managed in a WMS. It checks where to discover the stock and what amount is stored in bins. All data exchanged in real-time, so employees are keen on the stock number they received and stored.

    Step-3: implement WMS

    WMS helps to optimize the activities as mentioned above and spread the tasks across every department. Each company is free to choose both custom and ready-made solution with the list of essential features. Before choosing the best solution for your company, figure out the focus needs to be solved within the WMS system. Another vital step is to educate existing employees with the new software, primarily when they used to manage stuff manually and wrote paper-pen reports. The last step is the most complicated to implement if it wasn’t in use earlier, but in a month of usage, you will notice the positive changes.

    In conclusion

    The automated warehouse system needs much time and effort to implement. The best solution for businesses is to have its custom software developed from scratch. To develop it, you need to opt for a reliable team, who has proven expertise in warehouse automation development. We at AMCON SOFT have proven expertise in custom software development for warehouse automation. Contact us for more details.

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    #Custom Software#Logistic#Transportation
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