Automation has become a trending topic across many industries today. However, it’s not just a passing theme but has a lot to offer the warehousing world. If you’re looking for ways to increase productivity, reduce errors and improve operational efficiency then investing in warehouse automation could provide a simple solution.
Reasons to invest in warehouse automation
- Reducing labour costs – warehouse automation effectively applies equipment and machines to repetitive and manual processes that are less likely to be efficiently handled by a human workforce. As a result, labour costs can be reduced and employees are freed up to add value elsewhere.
- Improving productivity – an automated warehouse can potentially run 24/7 without the need to accommodate breaks or downtime that a human staff may require. Operational speeds are increased and the rate of error is reduced.
- Better oversight of the business. Automation accompanied by a warehouse management system can provide in-depth real time insights into how the business is running, from packing rates to stock locations.
Where can you use warehouse automation?
- Barcodes and Scanners. Integrating the use of barcodes and scanners into your business provides opportunities for better stock management and reducing human error. It also opens up a range of other automation opportunities, including automatic reordering and technology to support more appropriate staff scheduling.
- Picking. Every warehouse relies on picking - automating this process makes it more efficient and helps to reduce associated costs. There are many options for automating picking processes, including those that are half manual, such as pick to light and pick to voice.
- Automated vehicles. Automated guided vehicles can move around a warehouse environment without the need for a driver. Not only does this help to reduce labour costs but it can also improve efficiency and minimise the potential for issues with health and safety too.
- Inventory management and back end processes. Applying automated systems to inventory management provides a significant upgrade to any warehouses still relying on manual systems. Inventory automation delivers data in real time and minimises the potential for errors. Decisions can be made based on accurate and up to date information and the administrative burden of stock management is significantly reduced. Automated inventory handling provides much more accurate oversight on stock too, making it possible to get greater perspective and improve overall efficiency.
- Robotics potential. The combination of robotics, AI and automation could be responsible for enormous change in the warehouse industry in the near future. Amazon has already trialled robots in warehouses (supervised by humans) after buying robotics company Kiva in 2012. As a result of the trial, Amazon said it planned to increase the number of robots in its warehouses by 150%. Robotic support could be applied to almost any part of warehouse operations, increasing performance and reducing error as a result.
Automation has a lot to offer the warehouse industry and is already being applied by across the sector. Investing in this type of system could provide competitive advantages and the opportunity to be more cost effective for every business today.