Warehouses are in demand and are now big business. Due to an increase in ecommerce and fast shipping expectations, warehouse space and efficiency is paramount. Robotic warehouse automation can help meet the demand for space and increase productivity.
In the face of real-estate and labor pressures, automated warehouses are becoming increasingly necessary. Replacing repetitive tasks with automated systems can eliminate time-consuming, laborious and often manual tasks. Certain aspects of automation allow warehouses to maximize vertical and horizontal space. Automation processes allow employees to focus on essential tasks such as quality control and customer service.
Combining human effort and automation processes in warehousing is critical for delivering the best level of service in warehousing today. In this article, we go over the top ten warehouse automation trends.
Warehouse Automation Trends
Multi cloud-based Warehouse Management System (WMS):
Cloud-based warehouse management solutions are designed to help with the critical functions of day-to-day warehouse operations. Utilizing a cloud-based system offers warehouse management a streamlined platform for improving communications and inventory management. A cloud-based system removes IT integration, financial and scalability challenges, and introduces high levels of interoperability and a flexible SaaS based operating system.
Mobile Robots as a Service (RaaS):
Raas is a rental service that allows warehouses to lease autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) through a subscription plan. Leasing robots as needed instead of purchasing them outright benefits warehouses in several ways both financially and operationally.
It makes best in breed multi-robot machines more attainable, because the expense becomes an operational expense (OpEx) with a minimal initial investment (CapEx). It also allows for much easier scaling, as adding or updating necessary robots is more feasible through a subscription service.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems ASRS:
Various computer-controlled automated storage systems store inventory in a compact footprint and efficiently retrieve merchandise when needed. These systems help warehouses maximize space vertically and horizontally. Vertical storage can be extended to heights beyond human reach. Spacing storage shelving can be placed closer together due to ASRS systems’ small dimensions.
Internet of Things (IoT):
IoT comprises connected objects capable of collecting and exchanging data in real-time through embedded sensors. In a supply chain or inventory management, an RFID tag is placed on each item that needs to be tracked, supplying important data to enable critical decision making. IoT can be used throughout the global supply chain allowing for better communication between suppliers and customers. IoT in warehouse management provides visibility into the supply chain process from ordering to shipment delivery or third-party logistics warehouses.
Big Data and Analytics:
Warehouses produce enormous amounts of data, and it requires analytics to make sense of it all. Big Data consists of massive datasets that go beyond what is commonly used to manage and process data in a single company. Big Data Analytics allows warehouses to monitor and track inventory, across the supply chain and into the external world. Analytics of large amounts of data also help supply chain leaders to make critical decisions based on accurate projections.
Collaborative Robots (COBOTS):
Cobots are robots designed to operate with direct human interaction. These robots assist with automation by completing monotonous, physically demanding, complex, or hazardous tasks. Cobots can be flexible and easily programmable, adding to their synergy with human employees. Often used for inspection and picking, these automated guided vehicles allow workers to concentrate on tasks requiring problem-solving skills
This order fulfillment process uses voice commands to communicate with warehouse workers. Also known as pick-by-voice or voice-directed warehousing. This system is paperless and often has a multi-language capability for common languages. A voice picking system enhances productivity by decreasing errors and increasing efficiency.
Small computers that warehouse workers can strap to their wrists, head, or body parts while working. Wearable technology frees up warehouse workers’ hands, increasing speed and accuracy. Connected to cloud-based technology allows the data they produce to be uploaded immediately, improving inventory and order fulfillment accuracy.
A warehouse layout includes the interior and exterior of a warehouse. Warehouses today use technology like automated shelving to help with data flow and inventory management. A smart layout is designed for scaling, allowing warehouses to adapt to increased demands.
Often associated with flying outside, drones are gaining popularity in warehouse automation. Capable of flying around to scan pallets and counting inventory, they connect to cloud-based WMS, submitting collected data instantly. Some warehouse drones can scan 200-400 pallets per hour.
Finding cost-effective automation solutions is critical for warehouse management and the brands they serve. Globally, the ecommerce market is expected to reach USD 27,147.9 Billion by 2027. Warehouse demand will increase along with ecommerce growth.
Retailers must meet customer demand for order accuracy and delivery speeds that can compete with retail giants like Amazon.
GreyOrange combines AI-powered cloud-based software and smart robotic automation to help warehouses meet modern fulfillment demands. Contact us today if you’re looking for cost-effective warehouse robotics and automation solutions that can scale with you.