Automation has brought about revolutionary changes in almost every industry today. Business processes have been made so much easier and faster with automation, that efforts are being made to introduce automation in every possible facet of a business.
The warehousing industry too, has seen major changes with the advent of automated processes. Warehouse automation has several benefits that help companies improve their productivity and enable them to maintain their position in the competitive market.
What is automated order picking in warehouse management?
Developing an optimized technique for picking up orders in a warehouse can be a challenging task. This is all the more challenging if your warehouse is dealing with situations like diverse inventory, a revolving door of pickers, a myriad of SKUs, and lightning-fast picking goals.
Automated order picking is the solution to these problems, which many businesses have resorted to. It refers to the use of robotic or semi-robotic technologies that enhance the work of human pickers or may even eliminate the need for a human hand in order picking. An efficient automation tool works in conjunction with the warehouse workforce and can be easily integrated into the existing warehouse processes and infrastructure.
Automated order picking in warehouses aims at reducing walking time and shortening picking routes, integrating with your existing warehouse management system and supporting accurate picking and packing. Industries like e-commerce, manufacturing, retail, transportation, food and beverage, medical equipment, and many others can benefit from automated picking.
So, what are the automated order picking advantages that we have been talking about? What makes automation a boon for warehouse management? Well, here is a list of six reasons why automated order picking delivers great returns on investment for your warehouse.
Fast services and improved productivity
There is no second opinion about it that automation improves your process’ productivity; not just in the warehouse but in any area of your business. Irrespective of what kind of an automation tool you use, be it just an automated storage system or a storage and retrieval system, an autonomous picking vehicle, or even a light-weight collaborative system, your processes will become more productive than before. It is important, though, to choose a system that best suits your requirements; one that can be easily integrated into your existing process. Only then will the automated yield the optimum results.
Automation of your warehouse processes may seem like a very big initial investment. But the returns on investment are visible within three to four years of initiation. These financial benefits are mostly experienced as a result of huge cost savings from various sources, such as:
Reduced labor and equipment costs
l Reduction in land use requirements
l Reduced waste
l Reduced Maintenance costs
l Reduced energy costs, especially for refrigerated and frozen warehouses
No new infrastructure needed
Another great advantage with automation tools is that you do not need to build or acquire any major infrastructure to incorporate the new technology. The system can be very easily integrated with your existing warehouse processes. Unlike the initial days of automated order picking systems, the modern-day systems are much more lightweight and easier to maneuver within small spaces. These warehouse order picking systems can also be programmed to navigate themselves efficiently within the restrictions of your warehouse’s available area. So, you don’t need a bigger warehouse or support structures to accommodate these automated systems.
It is not necessary that all warehouses will be the same, be it with respect to area or processes. Every warehouse has its own unique requirements. That is why the automated order picking system cannot be a universally standardized system that fits all. Customization is one very useful feature in automated order picking systems. You may choose or customize the system according to the requirements of your warehouse. You can choose between Hybrid systems, two cranes in the same aisle, combining different picking strategies, and many other customization options.
Optimized space utilization
If you have been running a warehouse for long now, you would know that there is never enough space in a warehouse. Any business would want to utilize as much space as possible for storing its inventory. So, you would try to make optimum utilization of the existing space or build a space at minimum cost.
An automated order picking system can be perfect for optimum utilization of space. Using high-density automated storage or retrieval systems, you can store maximum amounts of products in minimum space. In fact, it is found that an automated storage and retrieval system can store nearly 40% more packages than a conventional storage rack.
Better inventory accuracy
Automated order picking systems are generally integrated with warehouse management software. This software records all the activity related to your warehouse, from keeping stock of inventory to tracking deliveries. When the warehouse order picking system is integrated with the software, the amount of products picked up is automatically recorded in the software. This allows you to have real-time information on your inventory levels.
With manual order picking processes, there is often delay in entering the data, or there may be errors. With an automated system, the chances of errors are minimum, which is why the information that you get can be considered to be accurate.