Automation is the development and deployment of technology with
limited human involvement for the manufacture and distribution of products and
services. Implementing automation systems, procedures, and processes increase
the performance, precision, and speed of several traditionally performed
activities by humans.
The software enables certain warehouse automation operations more
effective by-human effort or, in certain situations, by automating repetitive,
manual activities, by allowing associates to focus on more complicated tasks.
Warehouse automation takes several forms, including machines and
robots which support workers with inventory-related processes from when they
arrive at the warehouse until they leave. Using tools to automate warehouse
automation may help warehouses automation maximize efficiency and performance, decrease
labor costs and enhance health.
Automated warehouse management systems are proficient, quick,
adaptable and solid. They take into consideration improved warehousing and
ideal material stream.
Types of Warehouse Automation
Many technologies that assist human workers or handle tasks from
end-to-end fall under the umbrella of warehouse automation. Warehouses are
complex operations, managing a variety of processes and tasks to manage
inventory and distribute goods. Warehouse automation solutions are equally
varied, consisting of several types of technologies designed to speed up
Goods-to-person-technologies: GTP solutions usually involve robots or machines that bring
materials to workers for assembly or packing. It may use cranes or vehicles
that travel around the warehouse picking up materials. GTP includes automated
storage and retrieval solutions and conveyor systems.
Pick-to-light systems use barcodes and LED lights to help workers locate the
correct items to fulfill orders. Pick-to-light systems augment the work of
humans, reducing walking and improving productivity by helping pickers locate
Voice-picking and voice-tasking: Voice-picking or voice-tasking solutions add communication
technology to a warehouse order picker’s routine. Pickers and taskers
communicate, usually through wireless headsets, to coordinate movement and
Sortation system: Sortation
systems direct items to the right locations or to the correct bins by using
various technologies that identify and separate items, directing them to specific
locations for returns processing, to picking zones or to packing stations.
Collaborative mobile robots: Collaborative mobile robots work alongside humans to enhance
picking accuracy and productivity, guiding associates through the picking
process. Some collaborative mobile robots optimize picking routes and tasks
based on the warehouse status and work priorities. Collaborative mobile robots
offer numerous benefits, including flexibility, reliability, scalability,
reduced walking time and increased productivity.
Drones: While drones are technically
robots, most lack advanced onboard computers. Drones are used for inventory
management, equipped with barcode scanners to conduct inventory counts and
alert warehouse staff to products needing restocking or items located in the
wrong storage locations. Some companies are exploring the use of drones for
deliveries, as well.
Benefits of warehouse automation
The benefits of a comprehensive automated warehouse system are
multifold. These include: increased productivity, less worker strain and
fatigue, improved worker satisfaction, fewer injuries, lower operating costs,
increased accuracy, fewer shipping mistakes and space optimization. Investing
in the right warehouse automation solutions is a smart financial decision,
saving warehouse money from reduced errors, fewer injuries and increased
How to build an automated warehouse system?
Many warehouses are looking to leverage automation to improve
operational efficiency but building an efficient automated warehouse system
requires careful selection of the right technologies. To fully optimize
your processes and achieve efficiency, you must choose technologies that
integrate well and work together seamlessly.
These are the technologies you should consider while creating your
own automated warehouse system:
Interoperability between warehouse systems and software: Your warehouse systems and software need to be able to share
data between them, but those systems are not all the same and may have
different data formats. Interoperability solves this challenge by allowing
applications to seamlessly share data, such as inventory data, shipping
information and purchase orders. Without interoperability, data remains siloed
and you cannot benefit from a comprehensive, bird’s-eye view of your warehouse
Cloud computing and storage: When it comes to automating your warehouse systems, cloud
computing and storage offers several benefits, including reduced infrastructure
and maintenance costs. Rather than setting up and maintaining an on-site data
center, cloud computing provides a more scalable solution while reducing the
need for an in-house IT department.
Real-time tracking mechanisms: Modern warehouses use real-time tracking mechanisms like RFID,
which use radio waves to transmit data between tags or labels and computer and
information systems. The benefits include increased visibility into your
inventory throughout the supply chain, including shipping and delivery,
ensuring that the right items get to the right customers at the right time.
Collaborative mobile robots: Collaborative mobile robots enhance the work of human warehouse
associates by guiding them through the picking process to increase productivity
Access to on-demand warehousing: On-demand warehousing gives companies access to additional
warehouse space that is used, rented or leased on a temporary basis to
accommodate short-term capacity needs.
Data analytics and artificial intelligence: Collecting raw data with real-time tracking and other tools is
useful, but data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are the solutions
that turn raw data into actionable insights. Data analytics and AI tools enable
operators and managers to make timely data-driven decisions, responding to
existing information in real-time and even taking proactive measures in
response to predictive analytics data.
Packaging software: It is not
always easy to estimate the correct carton size, even for seasoned packing
associates. Packaging software calculates the ideal carton size for each order
based on SKU dimensions, product weight data and other factors. That means
associates don’t need to guess the right carton size, eliminating wasteful
spend on too-large shipping boxes and subsequent shipping costs and the labor
spent repacking orders.
Drones: Drones can speed up inventory
counts by scanning barcodes and recording item location information in the
warehouse management system up to 50 times faster than manual data capture.
Automated forklift: They can
operate in the same routes used by your human workers but handle tasks that
would typically involve long travel times for stock picking or put-away tasks.
seems clear that also the warehouses need to keep up with technology in order
to maximize profits. Automated warehouse systems help companies to work faster
and more efficient.