Warehouse automation technology is developing rapidly, which is good news for business owners who want to increase productivity and profitability. However, you'll need to be aware of the latest trends if you want to maintain an edge over your competitors. If you work with us, we'll keep you up to date with what's happening in the industry and tell you which new technologies could work for you.
Let's look at some of the automation processes and tools that are making waves at the moment:
1) High-Quality Warehouse Management Systems
Warehouse management software has been around for a while, but it's becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Warehouse management system (WMS) designers are now responding to users' demands by allowing them to access a wealth of data at a touch of a button, without being overwhelmed by information they don't need. Systems which have the capability of handling last-minute orders or managing priorities are also becoming increasingly important, as is a need to ether encompass Warehouse Control System functionality or to integrate with a third-party (the automation provider’s) WCS.
2) Automated Picking Tools
One of the most effective ways of reducing errors and boosting productivity in a warehouse is to use the most appropriate automated order picking tools. These include:
- Pick-to-light systems
- Pick-by-voice systems
- Goods to picker systems
- Piece-picking robots
3) Robots & Cobots
Forward-thinking warehouse managers aren't just using robots as part of their order picking processes; they're using them to do everything from stacking and moving pallets to de-stuffing containers. 'Cobot' is also becoming a buzzword within the warehouse automation industry at the moment. The term is a shortened version of 'collaborative robot' and refers to a type of robot that's designed to work with, rather than replace, humans. Cobots can help warehouse employees carry out various routine tasks, such as sorting or counting products.
4) The Internet Of Things (IoT)
Technology experts have been talking about the Internet of Things for many years now, but predominantly in theoretical terms. However, smart warehouses are now beginning to leverage the IoT's power to automate more processes. In basic terms, the IoT refers to smart devices which can connect to the Internet and communicate with each other without humans being involved. In a warehouse environment, this could mean robots capable of 'talking' to each other, or devices which can change their settings when required.
5) Intelligent AGVs
You may already use automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) in your warehouse, but it could be worth replacing your old ones with the latest models. Free path AGVs, for example, can travel freely and alter their paths when there are objects in their way, making them efficient warehouse assistants. Future models will also be able to share data with other AGVs so that they can work collaboratively in cost-effective ways. But beware of conflicts between AGVs and other AGVs, or AGVs and manual operations.
Find Out More
To learn more about how keeping abreast of the latest automation methods can enable you to improve your bottom line, check out our free Warehouse Productivity Guide. It contains a host of practical tips to help you fine-tune your operations.
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