AUTOMATED WAREHOUSE SYSTEMS – THE CASE FOR FLEXIBILITY
To say that warehouse automation is a current logistics trend is clearly an understatement. According to a report by Zebra Technologies, 27% of operational decision-makers plan to use full automation by 2024, and 61 % will be using at least partial automation. But even if we all admire those cool shuttle systems, picking robots, and self-driving trucks like AGVs, advanced automation is not just about choosing the right equipment. Far from it. Often full automation is not even the best solution.
In this blog post, I will discuss the drivers of automation in logistics, why efficient warehouse automation demands a flexible solution, and how the right automated warehouse system can help you achieve it.
The main driver of warehouse automation is, of course, efficiency. A robot doesn´t need breaks, is never sick, and makes no human errors. But in a complex reality, it also has its limitations. Some of the reasons companies invest in warehouse automation today are:
Why is warehouse automation such a big thing?
- Supporting the complexity of omnichannel strategies, with a broader assortment and more picking
- Demands for shorter lead times in warehouse operations
- Shortage of attractive plots for warehouses, which forces better use of warehouse space
- Demands for better ergonomics for warehouse employees
Flexibility – a must in the automated warehouse
Investing in advanced automation equipment is a costly business, and for most companies, a combination of automated and manual processes is the realistic way forward. Actually, many efficiencies can be gained by optimizing and augmenting manual processes with automated system support.
The keyword here is flexibility. In this fast-changing world, your automation setup must be flexible enough to adapt to evolving customer demands, new technology, and changes in your business strategy.
No matter the proportion of automated and manual processes in your warehouse, a WMS (Warehouse Management System) can contribute to the flexibility you need to optimize your warehouse operations today and in the future. Here are five tips on how your WMS can make flexible automation happen:
5 ways a WMS can improve warehouse flexibility
- Use a WMS to automate decision-making, e.g., choosing the shortest possible pick round.
- Choose a SaaS-based delivery model to prevent the hassle with infrastructure and improve scalability.
- Achieve higher efficiency by integrating your WMS with other systems, such as an Automated Storage and Retrieval System or your Transport Management System, for example.
- Make sure your WMS is highly configurable so that you can change your automated processes quickly.
- Invest in a modular WMS. That way, you can add and remove functionalities that fit your current warehouse situation and needs.
Want to learn more?
Companies must create a competitive advantage through their logistics and warehouse management processes to succeed in this ever-changing environment. And that’s where automation can help. Read our e-book and learn how to make sure your warehouse automation gives a high ROI.