Automation includes any technology that augments or replaces human labor. It can take many forms, from machines to robots to IT systems — but no matter the form, it all aims to provide facilities with the same benefits: reduced labor costs, improved accuracy, and enhanced safety.
Lately, automation has become increasingly popular in warehouse settings. Companies are taking advantage of the machines’ abilities to gather accurate data and perform continuous work. Below, we’ll take a deeper dive into warehouse automation, and we’ll discuss four of the best warehouse automation innovations for reducing labor costs.
Types of Warehouse Automation
All forms of warehouse automation fall into two major categories: process automation and physical automation. Here’s an overview of their differences:
Process automation, also called system automation, digitizes manual processes. It uses barcode scanning technology to capture, track, and enter data into a central database, such as a warehouse management system.
Physical automation uses mechanized, mobile equipment to streamline operations requiring physical labor. This is usually where robots are utilized. While physical automation solutions can come with a high price tag, they deliver high productivity and cost efficiencies in the long term.
4 Cost-Saving Warehouse Automation Innovations
There are many efficient, reliable warehouse automation innovations available. However, there are a few that prove themselves most valuable in terms of reducing labor costs.
1. Storage and Retrieval Systems
Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are engineered to buffer, store, and retrieve products on demand. The design for each system can be tailored to fit the needs of your facility, and it can be integrated with your warehouse management system for an even more streamlined process. You can choose from carousels, cranes, shuttles, vertical lift modules, micro-loads, mini-loads, unit-loads, and more to automate your order picking and packing, shipping staging, or storage.
2. Inventory Management Software
Automated inventory management software uses technology to effortlessly and precisely manage warehouse stock in real-time. It can process customer order deliveries, fulfill inventory demand, manage real-time data, and work together with your current warehouse management systems. Whether you’re tracking raw materials, finished goods, or operating supplies, this software can maximize your facility’s scalability, decrease the risk of human error, and save labor time.
3. Sortation Systems
Automated sortation systems identify incoming items and divert them to a specific location within your warehouse. They use barcode scanners and other sensors — which can be customized to fit your product’s and facility’s specific needs — to receive, pick and pack, and ship orders.
There are two types of automated sortation systems: case sorters, which sort and transport entire cases, and unit sorters, which sort and transport individual items. Both types are proven to make your warehouse operations more efficient, with improved order accuracy, less damaged product, and reduced labor costs.
4. Conveyor Systems
Automated conveyor systems provide fast and safe transportation for products throughout all stages of the production and delivery processes. They’re ideal for large warehouses that cover lots of ground because they free up space, reduce workplace injuries, and cut downtime and labor costs.
Streamline Your Warehouse Operations with RapidVeyor
Warehouse automation tools work great for many facilities, but the switch to automation isn’t always an overnight change. A lot of facilities don’t have the time or money to implement tons of robots all at once. Instead, they need affordable tools they can implement and use to streamline processes, now.
A portable conveyor makes the transition to automation more affordable and immediate — plus, they’re also useful for one-off tasks like shipping and receiving. For example, a smaller warehouse might have one big shipment day, where they need to get a lot of product off a trailer and into a specific part of the facility. You can’t have a permanent conveyor there, because it would block normal operations, but a portable conveyor makes the work easier, reduces labor needs, and can be put away when the job is done.
RapidVeyor is a portable, modular conveyor system designed to streamline a variety of warehouse operations. Although it’s not “automated” per se, RapidVeyor is a technological innovation that can help you save on labor and other operational costs. It comes in 12.5-foot or 20-foot lengths that can be put together and positioned to fit the length and layout you need.
Some additional features that add to RapidVeyor’s versatility include:
- Lightweight material – RapidVeyor is simple to set up, lift, and move around. Conveyor sections also come with a cart for convenient storage.
- Variable speed drive – RapidVeyor is built with a variable speed drive that can operate in forward and reverse settings.
- Comprehensive functionality – Two drop-in-drives are available for the RapidVeyor, which allows the system to operate either on the ground or on stands. This ensures comfortable reach and efficient navigation.
Labor is one of the most difficult things to come by these days, but with tools like the RapidVeyor, you don’t need it. Technology decreases strain on your employees and boosts efficiency — and ultimately, profit. Reach out to our team to order your RapidVeyor solution today.
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