Automation is a powerful tool and comes in many shapes and forms. In warehousing, automation is generally used to improve existing methods by increasing efficiency, speed, reliability, accuracy and (eventually) cost savings.
Robotics in manufacturing has been well established for many years and applications within warehouse operations will become more mainstream. We’ve compiled a list of pros for modern warehouse solutions.
- Modern warehouse automation technologies are more flexible and scalable compared to older automation solutions like conveyors, which are bulky and fixed in place.
- Warehouse operators can rent additional robots to accommodate increased demand during peak season, returning them when demand returns to normal.
- Collaborative mobile robots also don’t require infrastructure changes, unlike conveyor systems, so they’re easier to implement.
- Space optimisation is another benefit of warehouse automation, allowing warehouses to maximize the use of vertical space by storing items in higher locations that are typically difficult for warehouse operatives or forklifts to reach. Drones, cranes and some AS/RS solutions make it easier to access these higher storage locations, so warehouses can monetize more cubic feet.
- Many automated and robotic systems are well developed, and it is often a case of establishing suitability of the technology within the logistics operation.
- The potential flexibility of some of the robotic technologies may reduce the risks traditionally viewed with large automated systems.
- Robotics will no longer be the domain of just the larger businesses who have driven much of the development to date. Some of these robotic solutions can be adapted and utilised in a small traditional warehouse to support existing staff.
WAREHOUSING TECHNOLOGY TRENDS 2021
Many warehouse operations have some form of mechanised material handling solutions to improve productivity; forklift trucks, conveyors, sorters, product to picker systems to automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). The easier jobs in the warehouse have always been the quick wins for automation.
Pallet stacking robots and robot de-layering are well established undertaking repetitive tasks that can be mechanised reasonably easily.
Collaborative robots are becoming increasingly common directly supporting human activity such as independent load carrying robots that can move a completed pallet to a loading bay determining their own route through a warehouse.
Piece picking robots are another area of development, with the ability to move around a warehouse and pick items from shelves at multiple levels using an extendable arm with grip and sucker technology. They will become more sophisticated as they are developed for differing operations in conjunction with AI.
Other systems are based upon the product to picker concept. These robots sequence the product presentation, usually the shelving unit and appropriate pick shelf to the pick station, reducing picker travel time, improving pick productivity and space utilisation.
Here at Barnes, we maintain 50,000 sqft of modern racked warehousing which uses wire guided VNA trucks to maximise efficiency of space. We also have a bespoke Warehouse management system that allows us to track product location whilst on site. We also offer pick and pack operations, as well as full pallet movements to fit your needs.
Investing in the right warehouse automation solutions could be a smart financial decision. With technology ever evolving more trends will come and go so keep your eye on the world of warehouse automation.
Get in touch to find out how our warehouse solutions can support your business.