In the world of industry, warehousing has always played second fiddle to manufacturing. While companies decided to focus on the need to speed up production, warehousing tended to be ignored or overlooked. Well not anymore. E-commerce has put the spotlight on warehousing and only companies that have understood the complexities and demands of inventory management and the need to automate to manage high-velocity, high-volume, and fulfillment operations will survive today. In short, warehouse automation — the use of technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of warehouse operations — has become a necessity to improve process efficiency and productivity.
“E-commerce operators require up to three times more space than traditional warehouse users. That’s because of the greater diversity in products they handle and the need to have them immediately accessible,” says Neil Johnston, ID Label President, and CEO in an interview. That’s where WMS helps. These software solutions give real-time visibility into inventory levels, stock locations, and order fulfillment status as well as track picking processes.
These automate and manage material handling equipment in warehouses and help with equipment control, routing, and tracking. For example, WCS would allow a manager to pre-determine specific routes that a forklift or other machinery may take in a warehouse. Why is this important? According to the Essential Warehouse Workers Briefing Book, most warehouse laborers work 12-hour shifts and walk 20 miles a day. With the right automation, work roles can be redefined and processes made more efficient.
These can help automate tasks such as picking and packing. Autonomous mobile robots for example use sensors and computers to navigate warehouse aisles and locate items, with no human control needed. Gartner predicts more than three-quarters of large enterprises will have adopted intralogistics smart robots in warehouse operations by 2026. “Labour availability constraints, rapidly rising labor rates, and the residual impacts of COVID-19 will compel most companies to invest in cyber-physical systems, especially intralogistics smart robots,” says Dwight Klappich, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice in an interview.
Warehouse travel time can consume as much as 50% percent of working hours. Using an automated storage and retrieval system can increase the speed and efficiency of moving inventory. These automated processes store and retrieve inventory on a pallet or in bins in a warehouse. An example would be automated storage and retrieval systems that store and retrieve inventory using cranes or shuttles.
Fast-moving warehouses are smaller but need more frequent replenishment. Slow-moving warehouses have large inventory levels but work on less frequent replenishment.
Large warehouses need automated solutions that can handle the increased volume.
For smaller warehouses, a pick-to-light system may be more cost-effective. Larger warehouses may need an automated storage and retrieval system.
And the fourth question to ask is — Who can helpyou with your warehouse automation needs?
Blue Star E&E would be your answer. We offer warehouse automation solutions that range from material storage, material handling, order fulfillment, material movement, truck loading, and warehouse management software to traceability solutions (laser-based). The systems are suitable to automate industries like FMCG, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and glass among others. Give our experts a call to know more.