Technologies for Warehouse Automation

Written by Goh Siang Wei, DLSM

by Goh Siang Wei, DLSM

Warehouses are playing an important role in the flow and delivery of the products from the manufacturers to the end-users. Operating a warehouse at the maximum efficiency is a challenge for a warehouse owner as the activities of the warehouse are complicated processes. Consequently, a human being is limited to overcome all the challenges and the problems due to it could be a huge data and process. Therefore, technology is playing an important role in turning out some of the solutions to overcome all of these situations to manage the warehouse in the way of achieving the cost-effectiveness, efficiency as well as to manage it in the environment friendly.

Improving Performance in Warehousing

Automation technology can be defined as the devices that are exposed to accomplish the tasks given with little to no human interaction. The automation technology can be in different size, function, mobility intelligence and cost from the robotic processes automation to the flying vehicles aided by the artificial intelligence (AI). The automation technology can recognise the surroundings and make the decision independently. Thus, automation technology can be adopted in the warehouse to assist the activities and improve the flow of the warehouse. Therefore, automation technology contributes a lot to the warehouse. There are many benefits and advantages of implementation of automation technology in a warehouse including incremental of the efficiency and productivity, space optimization, increasing inventory accuracy, reduction of human errors, reducing the risky incidents as well as enhancing the revenue by improving the perfect order fulfillment rates, speed shipping and finally the customer satisfaction.

Aerial Drones for Accurate and Faster Inventory

Accuracy and reliable data are very important to an efficient and effective warehouse. Inventory is a vital portion of assets in a business. Hence, it is important for the workers in the warehouse to know accurately and timely the quantity of the inventory and the location of the inventory. Itis a challenging and complicated tasks the quantity and the types of inventory is huge and varied. Therefore, drones have been created to allow the companies to overcome the challenges.

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Image taken from https://www.pinc.com/blog/how-humans-and-robots-will-work-together-in-the-supply-chain/

The drones equipped with the advanced optical, RFID and barcoding sensor have the ability to improve the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the warehouse inventory cycle count. The Drones provide an innovative solution for scanning the inventories and pallets in the warehouses. The camera and the barcode scanners will be attached to the drones and the orders will be given which the drones able to move through the warehouse quickly to access the inventories. There able to lifts the barcode scanner up to the desired heights of the shelves and move to the down of the aisles to scan the barcodes of the pallets. At the same time, the operators receive feedback from the scanning of the drones in real-time. The feedback from the scanning can help the operators to do the inspection for the condition of the inventories and verify the content of the pallets. The results from the scanning can be sent to the warehouse managers or upload directly into the warehouse management System (WMS). Therefore, it is undeniable that drones have the ability to work in the giant warehouse with a large number of inventories efficiently, safely and reduction in time-consuming.

Image taken from https://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/white-paper-on-warehouse-transformation-using-autonomous-drones

Butler system

Butler is a storage and retrieval robot. The new methodology used by the butler system is “goods-to-person” and it aims to reduce the walking by workers. Butlers will move around the warehouse similar to the intelligent forklifts, carrying the shelves stacked with different products to a floor assistant.

Image taken from https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/mitsubishi-talks-pick-stake-greyorange-robotics-may-invest-20-million-68619

The Butlers navigate the warehouse floor, retrieving mobile racks and moving the racks to the pick stations for order picking from the shelves. ABC analysis is implemented in arranging the mobile racks with fast-moving goods to the most convenient locations. The robots will be utilized trackless navigation guided by QR codes which are located in the floor. Butler System can improve the space utilization which double-sided Mobile Storage Units allowed the multi-face picking and reduction aisle footprint at least 50%.

Image taken from https://www.roboticsbusinessreview.com/unmanned/greyorange-grabs-green-in-super-hot-mobile-market-robot-investments/

Automated Guided Vehicles(AGVs)

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are driverless material handling equipment or load carriers that travel movement self-governingly throughout a warehouse.Their development is coordinated by a blend of programming and sensor-based direction frameworks. Since they proceed onward an anticipated way with unequivocally controlled increasing speed and deceleration, and incorporate programmed hindrance identification guards, AGVs provide safe movement of loads. Run of the mill AGV applications incorporate transportation of raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods in support of manufacturing production lines, and storage/retrieval or other movements in support of picking in warehousing and distribution applications. AGVs are additionally utilized in inbound and outbound dealing with for replenishment and for picking. For instance, AGVs may be used to transport inventory from receiving to storage locations or from long haul stockpiling locations to forward picking locations to replenish stock. Moving inventory from long haul stockpiling to forward picking locations ensures that adequate inventory is accessible to pickers, making the order picking process more efficient.

Image taken from https://logisticsinside.eu/new-jungheinrich-agv-for-sauer-polymertechnik/

Conclusion

Automation technology is very useful and helpful in making the movement of the warehouse activities can be in the situation of steadily and smoothly. The less interaction or no interaction of humans at all in finishing any task surely can reduce labor cost and errors. It is undeniable that warehouse activity can be occurred and run efficiently by implementing automation technology.


References

Ee Soon Sern, DLSM. (2018). “Autonomous Mobile Robotics for Effective Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-mobile-robotics-effective-warehousing, accessed 15/03/2020.

Israel Pilapil, DLSM. (2019). “Crucial Technologies Warehouse Efficiency”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/crucial-technologies-warehouse-efficiency, accessed 15/03/2020.

Jon Goh Woon Keong, DLSM. (2019). “Nine Technologies to Boost Warehouse Productivity”. Retrieved from: https://sipmm.edu.sg/nine-technologies-boost-warehouse-productivity/#Automatic_Guided_Vehicles_AGVs, accessed 15/03/2020. 

Natali Taglic. (2020). “What are automated guided vehicles?”. Retrieved from https://6river.com/what-are-automated-guided-vehicles, accessed 15/03/2020.

About the Author Goh Siang Wei has substantive years of experience specifically in warehouse management. He is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Siang Wei completed the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) on March 2020 at SIPMM Institute.

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