How Automation Improves Warehousing and Materials Handling

With online retail now dictating how many warehouse facilities are run companies of all sizes are finding increasing challenges when it comes to meeting consumer demand. This in turn has created an added scrutiny on the existing methods and processes that may already be in place and has driven a need for increased efficiency.

Automation

Warehouse automation is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways of managing strategies around e-commerce. In many cases warehouse automation is getting more time and money spent on it than the labour purely because of the fact that at an early stage it is seen as a long term and flexible investment.

On average an automated system can operate at six times the capacity of a standard manual solution; with this increased efficiency any initial investment can be quickly repaid. With correct application and with the machine operating at the optimum capacity a return on investment could be realised in as little as three years in some cases.

Warehousing

Introducing automation to all or part of a warehouse will immediately provide a wide range of benefits including improved efficiency, safer operations, increased reliability, space saving, reduced running costs and even lower building costs. By maximising the available space both in floor space and building height cost are reduced by either holding more items in the existing premises or a smaller building being occupied.

Automated storage and picking machines require less space to operate in than a conventional forklift trucks or aisle trucks. With no specialist flooring or extra expense being required to modify the aisles ready for application automated machines can be a real money saver for warehouses.

Time of course is of great importance when consumers expect a prompt delivery, automated machines can keep the operation moving twenty four hours a day with no reduction in pace. With none of the issues that can be associated with standard labour automated machines provide the ultimate performance in terms of productivity.

Materials handling

Not only do automated machines provide greater productivity during operation they also produce consistent results when handling the materials. There is no longer a need for staff to lift heavy or awkward items; even with appropriate training these actions present numerous risks and should only be carried out when absolutely necessary. In terms of health and safety there is no better option than automation, with less human interference and less staff on the warehouse floor the risk of incident is greatly reduced.

Again with the reduction of staff on the warehouse floor human error can be almost completely eliminated. Common human errors such as picking an incorrect item or putting an item in unsuitable packaging will no longer be an issue; there will be no need to repeat a process if incorrectly carried out first time around saving both time and money and in turn improving efficiency.

Integration between all automated machines and warehouse processes can also reduce stock levels and wasted or damaged stock. Items can be stored in the most appropriate place and order so that, for example, items with a shorter use by date can be picked first or items with a high pick frequency can be located in the efficient zone.

As new and more convenient ways for consumers to shop become available the warehousing system is going to have to adapt and modernise to keep up with demand. As manufacturers and distributors continue to look for more innovative ways of staying ahead of the market, advances in automation will continue to offer a cost effective solution.

Contact us today on 01937 585 057 if you want to introduce automation to all or part of your warehouse.

 

 

Richard Haynes has been in the industrial warehouse industry for many years. You can find him on

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