Automation Technology: Does it belong in your warehouse?
Automation has slowly expanded over the years, but with businesses eagerly adopting solutions that make processes quicker, easier and smoother, it’s clear automation is here to stay.
The topic of automation is one that elicits many different reactions from various people because it’s a catalyst for change. The change can be minor or significant with a number of goals that usually include improving accuracy and system throughput. Ultimately, automation contributes to cost savings, which means businesses can grow and hire more people. The goal of automation isn’t replacing people; it’s improving processes and making new and better opportunities for them.
What’s the right automation system for your operation?
Before introducing automation to a warehouse, it’s important to first make sure your existing processes are efficient. If you just copy how you currently do things and add automated processes, you may miss some easy (and low cost) ways to improve the final system. Other things are to identify specific pain points as well as the ultimate goal for automation – accuracy, throughput, better ergonomics, etc. What are you trying to accomplish? Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to determine what kind of automation you need and where.
When it comes to auditing, automation is invaluable. Unit and Mini load systems allow you to efficiently conduct an internal audit rather than bringing in another company to calculate the inventory for you. Any time an external auditor is brought in, productivity drops as normal processes are hindered. It’s not the auditor’s fault; that’s just the nature of audits.
Some warehouses are embracing automation by using drone auditors to navigate pallet racks and count inventory. This automated approach improves accuracy by removing the chance for human error.
Automated technology like AGV’s is ideal for dealing with high volumes of material being moved in similar, repeated paths. AGVs use computer-controlled navigation systems that are programmed to follow a path to transport materials. These warehouse vehicles reduce labor and production costs, improve space utilization and can be redeployed.
Another useful piece of automation is the Vertical Lift Module (VLM). This vertical automated storage and retrieval system provides optimal storage density, flexible storage strategies and greater productivity by improving picking performance.
The benefits of automation are far-reaching and, as technology advances, we expect the advantages to increase as well. If you are interested in implementing automation solutions in your facility, contact the industry experts at Carolina Handling. We utilize a consultative approach that allows us to look at your facility holistically and provide solutions to meet your automation needs.