Nov 1, Technology , Warehouse 3 comments. Imagine stepping back in time to visit a large warehousing operation in Welcome to our tour of a logistics warehouse in the late 20 th century. Pay attention as we move through the building, because while a lot of things are different to the warehouse of today, many of them appear subtle to the eye, but have huge meaning in terms of warehouse efficiency and productivity.
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- The ultimate guide to warehouse order picking
- Automated storage systems
- Warehousing 101: An Introduction to Warehouse Automation
- How E-Commerce Is Changing The Future Of Warehouses
- 7 Innovative Warehouse Management Technologies to Adopt
- 7 Smart Warehouse Technologies to Implement Today
- Automated Material Handling Equipment and Products to Support the Supply Chain.
- Warehousing 101: An Introduction to Warehouse Automation
The ultimate guide to warehouse order pickingVIDEO ON THE TOPIC: CoGri Group - International Warehouse & Industrial Floor Solution Specialists
Written by Dustin Caudell Thu, Nov 08, Supply chain professionals are facing more challenges than ever in the constantly changing world of warehouse management.
Emerging trends in omni-channel retailing, consignment inventory and complex global supply chains put more pressure on the warehouse to increase throughput, cut costs, and reduce inventory cycles. As a warehouse professional, you also face the internal pressure of continuously managing the storage and handling of greater volumes of inventory, raw materials and assets more efficiently year-over-year.
That means having to implement new improvement strategies to gain critical efficiencies, reduce costs, and maximize productivity.
Zebra listed all these factors and more as drivers of change in the warehouse marketplace. In short, your job is not only difficult, but may be getting more difficult every year. Warehouse Automation technology may be the key to solving your warehouse and distribution challenges—and making your life a little easier in the process. Thousands of businesses worldwide have already taken the leap. In a nutshell, warehouse automation enables a warehouse operation to achieve greater outcomes with significantly less effort through the use of one or more technologies.
The best warehouse automation solutions are scalable, ergonomic, and provide a return on investment ROI in months, not years. Process automation, sometimes referred to as system automation, digitizes manual processes like inventory data collection and integrates that data into your software environment, such as your database or Enterprise Resource Planning ERP system.
This type of automation runs on an ecosystem of barcoding and wireless barcode scanners to input and track data, which is then communicated via software to a centralized repository where the information is stored for future retrieval. Physical automation, which includes various forms of mechanized automation, refers to the use of robots and robotic systems in the warehouse.
More costly to implement, physical automation only provides a reasonable ROI for larger high-volume warehouse and distribution center DC operations. Both types of automation enable improvements in warehouse procedures to levels not possible by human agency alone. Modern warehouses typically use process automation in one form or another. Bigger warehousing and DC enterprises may also utilize physical automation as well. While automation is powerful, not all types of automation carry equal impact or are necessarily the right answer for your specific needs.
More basic automation principles, however, can provide an ROI in months, depending on your solution provider.
However, due to the unique requirements and floorplans of individual warehouse or DC facilities, physical automation can also be difficult to scale across your operation.
Compare this to process automation in the form of an automatic data collection ADC solution or a Warehouse Management System WMS , both of which can be adopted by and scaled across warehouse operations of virtually any size, type, location or industry. The warehouse occupies a critical role in the supply chain.
As a core component of logistics management, your warehouse is not just a back-end operation that stores goods, materials or assets. Problems or delays in the warehouse operation can flow downstream to impact invoicing, cash flow and customer satisfaction.
CyberCore Technologies offers a great example of how the right solution and implementation plan can have a major impact on enterprise-wide operations. Since inefficient processes can have downstream consequences, that means the reverse is also true.
Using automation, efficiency gains created in the warehouse can be passed on, driving improvements in the rest of the organization and supply chain. Over the decades, warehouse management has developed into an intricate science. Automation technology taps into this knowledge-base to position the warehouse to improve performance, catalyze faster turnaround in supply chain process cycles, and support company growth. Companies that introduce automation technologies in their warehouse often experience several of the following benefits:.
Automation helps reduce overhead, driving cost savings associated with labor, equipment and maintenance, while also increasing throughput. It also pushes down spends for energy consumption, storage space and safety incidents. Automation can raise the productivity of each worker without increasing your headcount, in turn increasing the throughput of each shift. Automating processes, such as data collection and inventory transactions, can help reduce lost inventory, shrinkage and misplacement while also pushing toward This level of inventory control means fewer shipping errors as well.
It also contributes to reducing or eliminating the need for staging to support just-in-time JIT methodologies for order fulfillment. Click here to learn more about accelerating your inventory management practices. These benefits become especially impactful for refrigerated or temperature-controlled facilities or warehouses that handle hazardous waste.
Essentially, warehouse automation is needed when the burden of handling warehouse processes manually with paper, spreadsheets, tribal knowledge, etc. When this happens, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:. Thousands of warehouse managers and IT professionals have solved these very same problems by implementing warehouse automation solutions.
The very first area of your warehouse to automate should be the data collection process. Traditionally, data is collected is through handwritten notes on paper or manually keyed or re-keyed data entry. That error then compounds as the imperfectly captured data for that material is binned, transferred, picked, packed and then shipped.
In this scenario, the customer could potentially end up with the wrong product altogether because the transposed SKU represents a different item, setting off the costly return process.
Even at After a year workdays , that 0. Now those 20 bad transactions balloon into 15, per year. Needless to say, that 0. By automating the data collection process, we remove that opportunity for human error, thus reducing the chance that the product will be improperly received, stored, transferred, picked, packed, or shipped to the customer. Data collection automation involves implementing a system where information from incoming shipments are captured via barcode scanner and communicated via software to central data repository, such as database or ERP system.
Modern automated data collection solutions take the capture process a step further by mobilizing the data capture devices in the form of wireless barcode scanners, handheld computers or ruggedized tablets.
A truly automated mobile data collection solution will use device-agnostic software to enable two-way communication between those mobile handhelds and the database or ERP. Data can also be collected from all sources, such as barcodes, RFID tags, industrial internet of things IIoT devices, physical automation equipment carousels, vertical lifts, etc.
Not only does this data collection ecosystem all but eliminate human error from the data entry process, it provides the warehouse manager with accurate, high-quality data that informs real-time decision-making regarding inventory stock levels and manufacturing materials or components. Automated mobile data collection should be the first step in your warehouse automation journey. Inventory data is only as good as the quality of data you collect. Automating inventory control usually takes the form of an inventory management system IMS.
This software platform provides the ability to gain total visibility into your inventory as it flows through your warehouse. Although there are many IMS solutions out there, software like ShipStation is more tailored to smaller retail and online businesses while enterprise platforms, such as RFgen , are developed specifically with the needs of larger or enterprise companies in mind.
Inventory management software essentially allows the product data captured in receiving to be updated in real-time as inventory transactions take place. For example, Receiving Joe scans the products in receiving, automatically populating the IMS with data. Then, he hands the pallet off to Putaway Mary, who scans the bin where the stock will be stored. Now the system knows where to find the inventory and how much is on-hand in those particular bins. Later, the inventory can be transferred to a new bin with another set of scans.
When it comes time to pull that inventory for an order, Picker Larry has an exact count of that stock. Picker Larry picks the items and quantity and updates the IMS with his handheld scanner. Again, these transactions update the system in real time. Packer Jane has the right product in the right amount, which is then sent to the customer. Now, the Warehouse Manager can see that the newly pulled items have caused the level of that stock to fall below the re-order threshold.
Inventory control software should be paired with an automated data collection process, otherwise your inventory levels will become inaccurate, creating the same problems as before. On the adjacent shelf, he notices a bin full of dusty microchips that have since become obsolete and worthless.
In both cases, money is lost due to bad or missing data. Ideally, your data collection solution will go hand-in-hand with your inventory management solution. Supply chain solutions providers like RFgen offer an all-in-one solution that helps you automate data collection, procure enterprise mobility hardware and integrate those systems with inventory management software and your database or ERP environment to create a multi-directional data communication ecosystem.
However, if you are looking to take warehouse process automation a step further to gain additional functionality and efficiency, you may be in the market for a warehouse management system, a WMS.
What is a WMS? A warehouse management system, or WMS, is a software platform that takes over and automates internal warehouse logistics to make intelligent, real-time decisions that direct your worker movements through the warehouse with maximum efficiency. Like inventory management software, a WMS helps you control and track movement of materials in your warehouse or distribution center, but with far more functionality and operational flexibility. Unlike inventory control applications, true WMS software provides a higher level of control and resource utilization for product movement and storage in and around your warehouse and DC facilities.
The first WMS were computer applications that provided simple storage and location functions. Since the early days of WMS, these programs have evolved significantly into either standalone applications or as an extension of your Enterprise Resource Planning ERP system that communicates with your database and other warehouse technologies, such as mobile devices, RFID tags and robotics. The modern WMS has evolved out of the realization that warehouse employees spend a significant chunk of their time walking around.
Add to this daily maintenance tasks, such as trying to find room for incoming product, shifting stock around, and cleaning or reorganizing, and it becomes clear how many opportunities there are to lose out on productivity. Warehouse management software streamlines these time-consuming tasks by directing processes like picking, putaway and replenishment along optimized paths that cut out unnecessary movement and minimize the time it takes to perform each action. Combined with the ability to direct and validate inventory transactions as it flows through the warehouse, WMS solutions have the potential to provide major gains in efficiency, productivity and cost-cutting.
While expanding your existing ERP may sound attractive, note that these modules tend to be heavyweight solutions best-fitted for very large enterprise operations that generate hundreds of millions—if not billions—in revenue each year. In addition to paying for components, licensing and setup, your company will have to shell out money for development time and wages for IT support staff as well. Implementing a WMS can be complex and requires close integration with your existing warehouse processes and workflows.
Your warehouse also needs to remain up and running at full speed while the new WMS is tested, integrated and deployed until your team has had a chance to learn the new system. Like any form of change management, an effective plan can make the difference between implementation success or failure. Warehouse automation can help you and your enterprise increase customer satisfaction to levels not otherwise possible through human-directed work alone. Automation is not only the future of warehousing but the badge of the modern warehouse, DC and manufacturing operation.
Warehouse automation comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. If your company is expanding but experiencing growing pains in the supply chain, then warehouse automation may be on the horizon.
Dustin manages our sales activity globally. Dustin has spent his career providing growth and leadership to small and medium-sized high-tech software companies and the clients they serve. Why RFgen?
This sentiment holds especially true for organizations who rely on warehouse staff or automated equipment to fulfill orders. E-commerce behemoths such as Amazon have forever changed the perception of how orders should be fulfilled, both in terms of time and accuracy. But, while your company might not be promising same-hour delivery , these changing expectations are not to be ignored— in fact, they should be shaping your ever-changing warehouse order picking strategy. Warehouse order picking is a simple concept, but in practice, picking processes can be complex. For instance, if your competitors are undercutting you in terms of fulfillment time or you have received public online complaints concerning order accuracy from customers, the first factor you need to reassess is your warehouse order picking process.
Automated storage systems
Westfalia provides quality products and services throughout the entire project. Westfalia's automated storage systems developed over 20 years ago and proven every day since, have many unique features that are quite attractive to those seeking new solutions in the field of automated storage. The personalized support and customized solutions we provide our customers are matched only by the innovation of our products. And, unlike many technologies that quickly become obsolete or outdated, our solutions are designed for long-term use. Their quality, reliability and flexibility give customers the ability to adapt to changing market conditions now and in the future. From the moment the idea of improving your warehousing and material handling systems arises, Westfalia is your reliable and innovative partner offering the following solutions:. Our Mission: To deliver unparalleled warehousing solutions by earning the trust of our customers, understanding their business needs and honoring the commitments we make.
Warehousing 101: An Introduction to Warehouse Automation
This sentiment is particularly true regarding the fields of warehousing, distribution, and logistics. Ostensibly, the world of smart warehousing can be a difficult one to navigate, especially once you take the time to consider the rate with which new products are being introduced to the market. Some of these you may have heard of, some you may have not. Read on to discover the value these new technologies can bring to your warehouse. Long gone are the days of error-riddled picking; now, warehouses can benefit from near-perfect picking rates when picking automation elements are integrated into the flow.
Keep up with the latest trends, information, technology, and news for Technology and Operation teams across the e-commerce retailers and the 3PL world. Mapping out space and predetermining pick paths is vital to creating that flow. But your warehouse setup is more than just a design on a piece of graph paper. You will need to purchase warehouse equipment and tools to facilitate the flow of goods through each area—without blowing your initial budget, of course. And that fact begs the inevitable question: Which pieces of equipment are absolutely essential when setting up a proper warehouse? Warehouse equipment is essential—or not—depending on your products , your volume , and your business model. On top of that, these factors should be at the heart of all decisions in the warehouse setup: where things are located; the processes, procedures, and pick paths workers follow; and the equipment used. Regardless of the product, every warehouse moves things, stores them, keeps track of them, and sends them out.
How E-Commerce Is Changing The Future Of Warehouses
Written by Dustin Caudell Thu, Nov 08, Supply chain professionals are facing more challenges than ever in the constantly changing world of warehouse management. Emerging trends in omni-channel retailing, consignment inventory and complex global supply chains put more pressure on the warehouse to increase throughput, cut costs, and reduce inventory cycles. As a warehouse professional, you also face the internal pressure of continuously managing the storage and handling of greater volumes of inventory, raw materials and assets more efficiently year-over-year.
Until the Internet age, warehousing and distribution remained largely the same across industries. But the rise of e-commerce certainly disrupted that. Here, Sierra Clark examines how e-commerce has changed warehousing and how warehouses can succeed in the current environment. When a business sells physical product in any capacity, a functional and efficient warehouse becomes crucial to the productivity and success of their operation. Until the Internet Age, warehousing and distribution remained largely the same across industries. However, the rise of e-commerce led to massive technological and operational changes, and many businesses have been forced to rework their entire business models to remain relevant and competitive. Additionally, mobile shopping has become a simple and risk-free experience. As a result, e-commerce sales have continued to skyrocket. As a result, many businesses have opted for a solely online presence.
7 Innovative Warehouse Management Technologies to Adopt
However, with new technologies such as cloud software , augmented and virtual reality, drones, robots , autonomous vehicles, IoT , and wearable devices will without a doubt transform the world of warehousing over the coming years. With the support of artificial intelligence, big data, and advanced predictive analytics, warehouse planning and analysis is expected to evolve to the next level. Today's inventory management requires workers to scan items manually, which is a time-consuming error-prone process. It's impossible to keep track of all items in the warehouse manually. Can drones and robots be the future? The industry is buzzing with the talk of drone and robots use within warehouses. However, in larger warehouses, flying drones and robots now patrol distribution warehouses regularly and are fast becoming the norm. They've become workhorses of the e-commerce era online that large retailers such as Amazon can't do without. Two drones can do the work of humans over the same time period, according to supply chain specialists. This means they can do several tours of a warehouse - even at night - compare results, identify discrepancies, and build up a much more accurate picture much more quickly.
7 Smart Warehouse Technologies to Implement Today
Warehouse automation is widely touted as one of the most effective ways to boost ROI by reducing labor demands, enhancing accuracy, and improving efficiency. In reality, complete warehouse automation entails automating a variety of aspects of operations, from automatic data capture to software systems, storage and retrieval, and more. And as anyone in the warehousing industry is well aware, warehouses are rife with repeatable, process-oriented, and error-prone tasks, ranging from manual documentation errors to picking and stocking errors, shipping and receiving errors, and much more. For this reason, there are many aspects of warehouse operations that can be automated, including:. Out-of-stock conditions can lead to dissatisfied partners and customers, damaging brand reputation, and excess inventory that spends too much time sitting idle on racks and shelves continues to eat at bottom-line storage and operational costs. And when downtime occurs as a result of lost productivity or more serious errors, warehouses are either hindering growth or actively lowering profits. In general, warehouses should make use of vertical space and configure layouts to support the optimal traffic flow.
Automated Material Handling Equipment and Products to Support the Supply Chain.
Plunkett Research, Ltd. Jack W.
Warehousing 101: An Introduction to Warehouse Automation
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