1. Automation in logistics is the key to improving work in modern warehouses
2. What is warehouse automation?
3. Automation in logistics, i.e. faster, more efficient, more convenient …
4. IT systems as a guarantee of success in the logistics industry
5. What is digital automation and what are the benefits of implementing it in your warehouse?
6. Choose comfort in your operation by implementing automation in logistics
7. What is physical automation in logistics and why is it worth implementing?
8. Take advantage of the available advanced automation systems in logistics
9. Logistics areas in which it is worth implementing automation tools
10. Costs and depreciation of tools that improve warehouse work – is it a profitable investment?
11. Automation prognosis in logistics
In the era of the industrial revolution, we deal with the widely understood automation of work in almost every sector of the economy. This is done especially in those areas where, until now, human hands were necessary to perform specific tasks. However, the cost of hiring an employee is high, and so he is not able to complete many activities as quickly as possible. Therefore, the introduction of an automation system to the workplace turns out to be extremely effective. This allows you to minimize the costs of operations, while saving time and increasing the precision of the work performed. All thanks to the involvement of tools available on the market to improve a specific procedure.
In addition to the agriculture, construction and production sectors, the logistics industry is a leading field in the implementation of the above-mentioned activities. Automation in logistics is the nail of robotics today. It is therefore worth getting to know the available automation options and find out how and when to apply them in your workplace.
Warehouse automation is nothing more than the process of managing and moving products, streamlined with the use of modern tools. This applies to both the warehouse itself and the process of loading the goods. The key value of implementing technological innovations in this field is the reduction of the demand for the proverbial “human hands”. In other words, this method effectively reduces the costs of work performed in warehouses, rather than involving human resources.
Of course, the staff oversees certain processes, but they must properly train and learn about the tools to improve their work. In an automation project, the company can successfully reduce labor-intensive activities consisting in repetitive and heavy physical work. Automation in logistics is therefore the key to the success of warehouse owners.
In the process of automation in logistics, the preparation of reports and protocols may also be improved, as well as the significantly accelerated process of data analysis. Physical activities consisting in loading parcels are increasingly replacing mobile robots. The work of this equipment is to move the assortment from one end of the warehouse to the shipping area. Its software, on the other hand, monitors and records the entire process. It also allows you to update data on all activities performed so far.
It is worth starting warehouse automation with the implementation of a warehouse management system (WMS, short for warehouse management system). It stands for Data Collection and Inventory Control.) It is known that it is quite expensive to implement automation systems, but it is undoubtedly profitable to incur such an investment. It is amortising itself quite effectively in the future. The future of warehouse automation lies in robotics integrated with artificial intelligence (AI, short for artificial intelligence).
The technology of automatic identification and data collection is an abbreviation of the English phrase AIDC Automatic Identification and Data Capture. Just like mobile barcodes, this is an example of digital automation in a warehouse. The overriding advantage of the automation of digital processes is the possibility of integration with enterprise resource planning systems (ERP, short for enterprise resource planning). As a result, many works and processes, which until now were supervised only by human minds, have been replaced by the proverbial computer.
Safety has increased and the likelihood of failures and errors minimized. Above all, the above-mentioned activities have been significantly accelerated, with the simultaneous possibility of reducing human resources. AIDC technology includes radio frequency identification (RFID, short for Radio-Frequency Identification) and mobile barcode scanning.
Automation significantly improves the comfort of work, as well as improves customer service and reduces operating costs. Digital automation requires – as has already been mentioned – significant costs, which should be spent on hardware, software, necessary service contracts. You should also take into account the time needed to train an employee who does not generate profits during his work, but learns to use the implemented software. However, all this bodes well for the future of the company.
Physical automation is the use of technology with the intention of minimizing the need for human resources in carrying out specific activities. Various tools are available for this, the implementation of which in your warehouse brings long-term benefits. They will be approximated in a moment. In general, warehouse automation works by coupling software and technologies such as robotics and sensors to automate tasks. These products correspond seamlessly with existing tools such as inventory management software.
As already mentioned, the implementation of the warehouse management system (WMS) does a good job. It streamlines manual processes and data collection, and performs the function of inventory control and supports data analysis. The warehouse management system allows you to view all orders that need to be filled in one day. It also allows users to select similar goods to fulfill all these orders at once. Basic automation is the use of machines and vehicles to reduce repetitive tasks.
Advanced systems, on the other hand, use the increasingly popular and available in Europe artificial intelligence and robotics. An example in this regard is a conveyor or carousel, used to efficiently move inventory from point A to point B. Autonomous mobile robots for shelf loaders that lift racks with products and deliver them to people for picking and sorting, is another tool that is implemented is for highly advanced warehouses.
Another example in the discussed scope are robotic forklifts. They use advanced artificial intelligence. Examples of this are cameras and sensors to navigate through the warehouse and transmit the location of each forklift truck to an online tracking portal.
- in terms of receipt of goods – the possibility of using integrated software (also functional on mobile devices). Captures, processes and stores data that has an impact on automated work in the further and earlier stages;
- when it comes to returning goods – the automation includes the implementation of conveyors. This streamlines the procedures for processing returns along with putting them in designated places;
- in the process of picking, sorting and consolidating goods, involving only human labor is costly and time-consuming. Autonomous mobile robots increase the efficiency and speed of these processes through AS and RS systems (short for Automated Storage and Retrieval System, meaning retrieval and storage of goods);
- in replenishment of warehouse resources – consisting in the implementation of an inventory tracking tool, thus enabling automatic re-orders.When an inventory item indicates a lack of goods, which must always be present in the assortment (e.g. in the case of storehouses), the system automatically triggers an order request and indicates them for approval. Automated replenishment can help prevent reloading costs and loss of inventory due to spoilage and theft;
- in the packaging process – the packaging stage in order fulfillment is crucial not only due to the high cost of manual operations, but also the environmental impact of packaging materials. Automated packaging and cartoning systems help reduce costs. For this, algorithms are used to determine the best type of shipping packaging based on product attributes (e.g. durability), dimensions and material costs, which also has a positive effect on the environment:
- during shipping – Automated shipping systems use conveyors, scales, dimension sensors, printers and applications to determine available carriers, estimate shipping rates, and label packages for shipping.
It is estimated that the service life of stacker cranes may be 20-25 years. However, it should be remembered that in order to achieve this service life of devices, they must be regularly serviced and inspected. As for the real advantages of implementing automation in logistics, it is undeniable to save space than in a traditional warehouse. Moreover, in the long run, the implementation of automation helps to reduce electricity costs. This is done especially in enterprises where it is necessary to operate cold stores and freezers.
It is worth noting that the activities performed by nine forklifts with nine operators can be successfully replaced by only three employees who control the work of the warehouse stacker crane at three work stations. Many warehouse owners – due to their savings – use rented UTB (Handling Equipment). It turns out, however, that this cost significantly exceeds the cost of automated storage systems, although, of course, depreciation in this case takes place over a longer period of time.
The implementation of warehouse automation tools will help solve the problem of insufficient warehouse space as well as ineffective warehouse operations and will reduce the work of human hands. In the West, it is estimated that online retail sales of goods will reach $ 500 billion in the long term. This increases the demand for warehouse services. Cutting costs associated with the reduction of human resources is critical to effectively balancing the need for more space and services. It also helps to resolve difficulties in employing and retaining only skilled labor. Failure to plan these trends may cost more than the expense of gradual warehouse automation.